Confused and Don’t know what to do next? Review our DUI Process breakdown prior to your consultation so you know what to expect.
THE DUI PROCESS –Criminal DUI & Civil MVD
For most people, facing DUI charges is often their first experience with the criminal justice system. The experience can often seem scary and overwhelming. Adding to the confusion is that there are actually TWO parallel matters preceding against you, namely, the criminal DUI case and the civil MVD administrative case. Both processes move very quickly and are designed to confuse and discourage you so that you are bullied into pleading guilty. These matters have serious consequences that affect your freedom and right to drive. And both will require your immediate attention. This is why it is so crucial to hire Kristopher as soon as possible. We will briefly cover what happens in both matters.
Criminal DUI Process
Arrest and Release
After being arrested, you will most likely be taken to a hospital, police station or mobile DUI task force unit and either have your blood drawn or, given a breathalyzer test. You do not have the right to choose which test you perform. The portable handheld breathalyzer that you may have blown into prior to your arrest is NOT the official test used to determine your blood alcohol content or BAC.
You will then typically be booked and processed, i.e. have your mug shot and fingerprints taken. If this was not done, then you will get an Order from the Court at your first Court hearing to go have your mug shot and fingerprints taken at a local police station. After you are processed the officer may sit you down and ask you further questions about your drinking and actions. This may also be the first time you are read your Miranda Rights. If the officer decides not to ask you any questions than he/she may choose to never read you your Miranda Rights. And Yes, unfortunately, in most cases it is permissible for the officer to not read you your rights.
After your processing and questioning you will then typically be given a copy of a criminal citation which will have the name of a Court, the date and time you must appear. This is your arraignment date.
After you are processed you will typically be released to your ride, if you called one, or into a cab. You can then pick up your vehicle from impound the next day. If, however, you were charged with Extreme, Super Extreme or Aggravated DUI there will be a 30 day hold on your vehicle. If there is another person whose name is on your vehicle’s registration that person may be able to get the vehicle out of impound right away.
Your arraignment is your first Court hearing and the date this is written on your citation. At your arraignment you will ONLY be asked to plead guilty or innocent. You will not be put on trial, be asked about the facts of your case, nor will you be permitted to explain your situation. At the arraignment, if you plead not guilty a new date (typically 30 days from the arraignment) you will be scheduled to attend a pretrial conference. If you plead guilty a new date will likely be set to sentence you. If you are unsure how to plead the Court will simply enter a plea of not guilty for you.
In almost every case, you will want to enter a not guilty plea. This is true even if you think you are guilty or have no intention of going to trial. There is no penalty for pleading not guilty. You will not be punished more severely, nor will you be given a more lenient sentence if you plead guilty right away.
Your most prudent action is to speak to an attorney well before you arraignment date.
IN MOST CASES, IF YOU HIRE THE LAW OFFICES AT LEAST 48 HOURS PRIOR TO YOUR ARRAIGNMENT DATE YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO ATTEND THIS HEARING.
Pre-Trial and Negotiation
At your pre-trial conference you will have an opportunity to meet with the prosecutor and discuss the evidence he/she will use against you. If a plea offer is going to be made to you it is typically made during the pre-trial hearing. This is the most critical period of your case as this is the time in which you must develop the evidence needed to defend your matter which may include: hiring expert witnesses; visiting the alleged crime scene; requesting samples of blood for retesting; interviewing the arresting officer; requesting 911 tapes; etc. If your pre-trial conference concludes and no agreement can be reached with the prosecutor you will either request a second pre-trial conference or the Court will set a trial date.
IN MOST CASES, IF YOU HIRE THE LAW OFFICES PRIOR TO YOUR FIRST PRETRIAL CONFERENCE YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO ATTEND THIS HEARING.
Motions to Suppress/Dismiss the Charges
In some cases, there may have been policy, constitutional protections or procedures violated by the officer or the State that prevent the case against you from going forward, regardless of whether you were intoxicated or not. An example of this would be if the officer had no basis to pull you over, mishandled evidence or your right to an attorney was denied. In such cases, it may be appropriate to file a motion to suppress evidence or have your case dismissed i.e. thrown out. While these motions can be filed anytime, typically they are filed after the pre-trial conference and after the prosecutor refuses to negotiate or dismiss your case.
If the pre-trial conference concludes and no agreement can be reached and/or motions to dismiss your case were not successful or appropriate, the Court will set your matter for trial. At the trial your case will be presented to a judge and/or jury and you will likely either be found not guilty or guilty of all or some of the charges. If guilty, you will be sentenced and fined; if not guilty, the case will be over with. Unfortunately, being found not guilty does NOT have any bearing on the outcome of your Civil MVD hearing.
Civil MVD Process
Request a Hearing
After being arrested and released, in addition to the criminal citation you MAY receive notice of your license suspension and right to request a MVD Hearing. We say “may” because often times you will not receive this during your arrest so do not be alarmed if you didn’t get one. Instead, what will happen is the officer will file a copy of the criminal citation with the MVD and the MVD will mail you a notice of your license suspension and right to request a hearing. This may take a few days, a few weeks or even a few months, it just depends on the officer.
You are required by law to have an accurate up to date address on file with the MVD. Therefore, the MVD will mail you this notice to the address on file NOT the address you gave the police officer. If you are unsure what address the MVD has on file please call the MVD at 602-255-0072 or click on the following link and update your information: MVD Address Change. When the MVD mails out the notice of suspension you have 15 days FROM THE DATE THE NOTICE WAS MAILED, not the date you received it, to request a MVD hearing. If you do not request this hearing your 90 day suspension will begin after the deadline passes. If you request a hearing, a hearing will be set in 30-60 days to determine whether the officer had good reason to suspect you were intoxicated. During this time your license will not be suspended.
IN MOST CASES, THE LAW OFFICES CAN REQUEST THIS HEARING FOR YOU IF HIRED PRIOR TO THE DEADLINE. MAKE SURE YOU BRING A COPY OF YOUR MVD NOTICE WITH YOU WHEN YOU HAVE YOUR CONSULTATION.
Accept or Fight the Suspension
As the hearing date approaches you will need to decide whether you would like to accept or fight the suspension. Whether you choose to accept or fight the suspension is very complicated issue and cannot be fully discussed here. The one thing to keep in mind, however, is that winning or losing the MVD hearing has no bearing on your Criminal DUI. Moreover, if you win the MVD hearing but lose the Criminal DUI you may face a much harsher suspension then you would have if you just accepted the suspension in the first place. Therefore, your best bet is to have Kristopher review your matter and make a recommendation as to what to do.