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The DUI Process: From Start to Finish

Do you want to ensure your DUI case proceeds smoothly? Preparation is the key to not only a high-quality defense, but a successful outcome. One of the most important parts of preparation is to know what lies ahead in the complex California DUI process. Let’s take a look at a typical case timeline to help you better understand your responsibilities.

The Arrest

Your case will begin with your formal arrest, which may only occur once police establish probable cause. This can be done in several ways, but usually results from a traffic stop or DUI checkpoint stop and a failed field sobriety test. When you are arrested, you will be required to take a blood or breath test to determine your blood alcohol content level, which will then be entered as evidence against you. You may be held in jail for several hours depending on the circumstances of your case.

You should also promptly retain an attorney after your arrest for legal counsel and representation throughout the rest of the process.

Request a DUI Hearing

This is crucial: you will only have 10 days to request a DMV hearing after your arrest. If you fail to request this hearing, you will forfeit your right to fight back against any administrative penalties against your license that the DMV may issue, including suspensions and points on your driving record. Your hearing may not happen within this 10 day span, but you should absolutely request one to have an opportunity to plead your case and possibly avoid some of the harsh DMV-levied penalties, including an automatic 30-day license suspension.

Your DMV Hearing

At your DMV hearing, the hearing officer will ask three questions: Did the officer reasonably believe that you were driving under the influence, was your arrest lawful, and was your blood alcohol above 0.08%? If the answer to all three of these questions is proven to be “yes,” then you will lose your hearing. You may be represented by an attorney at this hearing, but public defenders will not represent you here, only at your court trial.

Your Court Trial Process

Unlike a traffic ticket which is resolved same-day, a DUI trial usually requires several different court appointments and appearances, starting with your arraignment date. At your arraignment, you will be asked to enter a plea with the court, which your attorney will likely encourage to enter “not guilty.” You may also be given a plea deal at this appearance, which essentially allows you to accept less severe penalties and charges in exchange for a guilty plea. Speak with your attorney before doing this, as it may not be the most ideal bargain you can receive or the best outcome to your case.

If you plead not guilty, your attorney will be given the ability to review all evidence and documentation the prosecution has gathered against you, as well as the maintenance records of chemical testing instruments used and the police report of the arrest.

From there, your case will proceed to the pre-trial process which can take weeks or even months if the courts are busy or closed (i.e. during the holidays). During this pre-trial process, your attorney will research your case meticulously to find any weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments and evidence they can then use to your advantage. This includes finding any evidence that may have been obtained illegally (without probable cause, with malfunctioning or broken chemical test, etc.) and working to suppress it. They will also review your arresting officer’s complaint history to attempt to discredit their testimony. Most plea bargaining happens during this process as well, since your attorney is in the best possible stop to negotiate.

If your case proceeds beyond pre-trial without settling, then you may need to appear before a jury, which means that your case will go through the trial process in full:

  • Jury selection
  • Opening statements
  • Prosecution’s case
  • Defendant’s case
  • Closing statements
  • Verdict & sentencing

In order for you to be convicted of your charges, the prosecution must convince all 12 jurors of your guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. If your attorney believes this is the best route to go, then they will likely attempt to bring your case this far, and fight for you during this process.

It is highly advised you seek representation from a Bakersfield DUI attorney for assistance with your case. At Campbell Whitten, we proudly fight back against any DUI charges you may be facing. We understand the gravity your accusations can place on your life, and how difficult it can be dealing with the penalties of a full conviction. We firmly believe that all cases deserve high-quality representation from an experienced lawyer, and our knowledge of the ins and outs of DUI law and procedures make us a powerful and valuable ally to have on your side throughout your case.

Call Campbell Whitten today at 661.735.1038 and obtain high-quality representation for your charges today.