Following a drunk driving arrest, the defendant will be assigned a court date for arraignment. In many cases when defense attorneys are involved, this initial proceeding is waived. Following the arraignment, the defendant or his/her attorney will file all of the necessary paperwork with the court and the prosecutor’s office regarding obtaining the police report and other documentation. A pretrial conference will likely be scheduled and it is at this time that a deal will be reached between the defendant and the prosecutor; or a deal will not be reached and the case will head to trial.
A defendant has some – but not many – options regarding how to strategize during the period between being arrested and reaching a deal or going to trial. Certain pieces of evidence may be challenged, such as the results of a breathalyzer test or the arresting officer’s recollection of the events. During this period, a defendant must consider what he or she is willing to live with in regards to a DUI conviction. While certain deals may be reached, it is very unlikely that the charge will simply go away. Depending on the number of the DUI offense and/or the severity of the offense, the charge may be characterized as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Once a resolution of the DUI charge is reached (guilty, not guilty or lesser offense), the sentencing phase (or the terms of a plea deal) begins. This includes the classification of the offense, the required amount of fines, the length of license suspension, any required community service, counseling, alcohol/drug education courses, prison time and the installation of an ignition interlock device on a vehicle, if applicable.