The DUI arraignment is your first appearance in court. The DUI arraignment may occur on the next available court date in come jurisdictions, or perhaps it will be delayed until the prosecuting attorney formally charges you with a DUI (the usual practice for a DUI in Snohomish County District Courts).  The arraignment is mandatory for anyone arrested for DUI.  The first appearance is primarily for the advisement of rights, and your opportunity to declare "not guilty" to the charge of DUI. If you have a DUI attorney, he will advise you of the proper DUI court procedures.  You should always ask for a jury trial in a DUI case in order to keep all of your options open until you have retained a DUI lawyer.

At the conclusion of the DUI arraignment, the Judge will decide whether any conditions should be imposed on you pending trial or further court appearances for DUI.

For first time DUI offenders with relatively low breath or blood test results, the typical DUI conditions, include no driving after drinking, or no consumption of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs pending your DUI trial.  For those with prior DUI offenses, more strict condutions may be imposed. 

It is important to note that there is a risk, albeit minor, that you will be taken into custody during your arraignment for the DUI charge.  This is very unlikely if this is your first offense and there is no major accident involved but you must discuss this possibility with your DUI attorney prior to appearing in DUI court.

After the DUI arraignment you will be given notice to appear for a pre-trial hearing.

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DUI Trial | Criminal Defense

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Criminal Court Procedures Whatcom County

The length of a DUI jury trial is typically two days. It may be as short as a day if there is no blood or breath test (BAC), but rarely does it last three days or more.

The DUI Court will first hear preliminary matters, then what follows is the DUI jury selection (called voir dire). This is the process whereby both sides ask the potential jurors questions to determine their biases, views on police, DUIs, etc., to enable them to excuse up to three jurors the DUI defense attorney feels may be adverse to the defense, or, the State/City.

Once the DUI jury is selected both lawyers give opening statements where they outline for the DUI jury what they expect the evidence to show. The DUI defense attorney may choose to give his or her opening statement after the DUI prosecutor has rested his or her case.

The DUI prosecutor then presents his or her witnesses. Typically those witnesses include:

Investigating DUI police officers;

  • Civilian witnesses or hospital personnel that may be available and favorable to the prosecution at the DUI trial;
  • DUI “Expert witnesses" from the State Patrol breath test department or the state's toxicology lab, both of whom will testify that the breath testing device was operated and maintained in accordance with all required state statutes and regulations governing breath testing; or
  • In a blood draw case, the person who drew the blood in the DUI case and the toxicology lab technician who analyzed the blood will be called.

At the conclusion of the DUI prosecutor's case, the DUI defense may, but is not required to present evidence. In most cases, much of the DUI defense has already been presented through the DUI defense attorney's vigorous cross-examination of the DUI prosecution witnesses.

Typical DUI defense witnesses include:

  • People you were with prior to being stopped by the police who can testify to the amount you had to drink, your apparent state of sobriety, unimpaired coordination, speech and appearance;
  • Passengers in your car who can testify to the above plus your driving and performance of the DUI roadside tests;
  • People you may have called from your car after the DUI stop or from the police station who can testify to your speech;
  • The DUI public defender or other criminal defense lawyer you called from the station who can testify to your speech, the appropriateness of your questions and your ability to understand and follow instructions;
  • Anyone you called or who saw you after release who can testify to your sobriety, coordination, speech and appearance; and
  • Any DUI experts retained to challenge the accuracy/reliability of the breath or blood test (BAC).
  • DUI Defense investigators who have interviewed DUI prosecution witnesses, including the arresting officer, photographed or videotaped the road traveled and the scene of the DUI field sobriety tests, or who is an DUI expert on the limitations of “field sobriety testing.”
  • The DUI defendant does have the option to testify, but cannot be required to. Most DUI juries want to hear from the DUI defendant personally, but there may be sound reasons your DUI attorney will recommend against testifying. While the decision rests with the DUI defendant, the DUI defense attorney's advice should be considered very carefully.

After all the evidence is presented, the DUI judge instructs the DUI jury as to what the law is that they are expected to apply to the facts of the case. Then both lawyers present closing arguments.

Following the closing argument, the jury will commence deliberations, which can last anywhere from 15 minutes to one or more days. Only three outcomes are possible at this juncture:

  • All six jurors can vote to acquit and the case will be over and the matter dismissed;
  • All six jurors can vote to convict and the defendant will be found guilty; or
  • The DUI jurors can deadlock without reaching a unanimous verdict. This results in a "hung" jury and the judge will declare the DUI case a mistrial. The prosecutor then has the option of re-trying the case at a future date, offering a plea bargain to a reduced charge, or dismissing the DUI case.
DUI Rules and Court Procedures

From the outset it is our objective as DUI attorneys to inform all of our DUI clients of the process involved in defending DUIs, from the DUI Court Process itself to the Department of Licensing issues that confront our DUI clients.  The DUI court process is often the most intimidating, and it is our duty to protect our DUI clients from the prosecuting attorney and Judge.  While it is generally agreed that the DUI court process is the most intimidating, the other DUI issues that will be present cannot be overlooked either.  The Department of Licensing Hearing and the license status of an individual arrested for DUI is another critical component to the DUI process.  We will also advise where to get the best alcohol/drug evaluation (a requirement for DUI defendants), where to schedule the Alcohol Drug Information School (a requirement for DUI defendants if alcohol/drug treatment is not necessary) and the DUI Victim’s Panel, how to get SR 22 insurance (if needed), an ignition interlock (if needed), and an occupational license (if needed).

National Trial Lawyers | Criminal Arraignment Skagit County Wa

The DUI motions (or suppression) hearing can be the most important hearing in your DUI defense, because it is at the DUI motions hearing that the judge will hear legal challenges to the admissibility of the State/City’s DUI evidence, and a ruling in your favor can result in DUI evidence being suppressed (excluded) from your DUI trial, including evidence of a blood or breath test (BAC suppression), the results of some or all of the field sobriety tests, or any adverse statements you may have made. Successful DUI pre-trial motions often compel the DUI prosecutor to make an advantageous plea bargain offer, or can, on occasion, result in the dismissal of the DUI charge!

Most courts schedule the DUI motions hearing for a date well in advance of the trial. Some courts, however, schedule DUI motions for the morning of trial.

Most DUI Judges will rule on most DUI motions immediately, but it may reserve ruling until after additional legal memoranda (called briefs) are filed arguing points of law applicable to the facts of the case.

DUI Court Procedures | Law Firm of David N. Jolly

The DUI pre-trial hearing is typically the second scheduled court date and is scheduled at your DUI arraignment and is usually set 4 to 6 weeks after your DUI arraignment.

The date is dependent on which court your DUI case is in, as Snohomish County DUI courts have the DUI pretrial dates 2 months after the arraignments, with Snohomish County Municipal Courts tend to have the DUI pretrial dates 1 month after the DUI arraignemtn (Snohomish County cities include
Everett, Lynnwood, Mukilteo, Mill Creek, Marysville, Monroe, Edmonds and Lake Stevens).  In Skagit County DUI and Island County the DUI pretrial dates are approximately 1 month after the DUI arraignment (including the Skagit County cities of Anacortes, Mt. Vernon and Burlington and the Island County cities of Oak Harbor and Coupeville).  In all of the Whatcom County Criminal Courts, including Bellingham, court appearances will occur within days of your criminal arrest. Whatcom County attorneys must be knowledgeable of the local court system and available to appear at a moment's notice.

The DUI pre-trial is intended to provide the opportunity for your DUI lawyer and the DUI prosecutor to discuss the case (pros and cons), explore plea bargaining options, and to determine whether the parties have exchanged all information required by DUI court rules.

Continuances of the DUI pre-trial hearing are not uncommon. Typically, DUI pre-trials are continued because the defense needs to:

Obtain court ordered DUI information, such as DUI police radio tapes, DUI toxicology reports, documents relating to the breath test, accident reconstruction reports, missing pages from DUI police reports, etc.;

  • Complete DUI witness interviews;
  • Complete DUI independent investigations;
  • Retain DUI expert witness;
  • Locate DUI missing witnesses;
  • Obtain DUI alcohol evaluations; and/or
  • Conduct additional negotiations with the DUI prosecutor.

If no continuance is needed and no acceptable DUI plea bargain has been offered, your DUI attorney may note various legal motions, if applicable, schedule a hearing for them to be heard and schedule a trial date.

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