What To Expect When You Are Arrested For DUI – Fleming And Nelson is Here to Help
What is the DUI Process?
There is a specific sequence of events that takes place after being pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI), and understanding what to expect during this process can significantly impact the outcome of your case. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, then it is important to contact an Augusta DUI attorney to guide you through the DUI process.
This article goes over what to expect during the DUI process to help you prepare to fight a DUI charge in court. However, we recommend that you speak to a criminal defense attorney specializing in DUI cases at the Fleming and Nelson law firm in Augusta GA to best protect your rights if you have a DUI charge pending against you in court.
Step 1: The Stop
When a police officer pulls you over, it is generally because of some traffic violation, collision or erratic driving behavior. If the police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may ask to search your vehicle or to have you perform certain field sobriety tests.
The standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) are designed to gather evidence that you are intoxicated. They are TOTALLY VOLUNTARY. The law does not require that you perform SFSTs such as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test (waving pen or finger in front of your face), the Walk and Turn test, the One Leg Stand test, or blow into the hand-held Alco-sensor at the scene of the stop. This is different from the official state test where the officer reads from a prepared card (Implied Consent Warning) and requests that you take the state-administered test of your blood, breath or other bodily substances. This official state-administered test is one which can have serious consequences for your privilege to drive the State of Georgia.
Step 2: The Arrest
You will be asked to submit to a breath test, blood test or both at the police station before you are “booked.” The processing of booking includes a photograph and fingerprinting, and in some cases, your driver’s license can be confiscated.
Once you are booked, you may either spend time in jail awaiting your arraignment, be released upon the payment of bail or released on your own recognizance. If you are released, the judge has the power to require you to post bail. The citation that you receive will tell you the day and time of your arraignment, or first court date.
Step 3: The Arraignment
The arraignment is the first official court proceeding—it is also where you will be formally charged with a DUI. At the proceeding, you will enter a plea of either not guilty or guilty. It is very important to have an Augusta DUI attorney during this stage of the DUI process. In some cases, the attorney can even appear on your behalf during the arraignment without the need for you to appear and enter a plea on your behalf as your attorney.
If you enter a guilty plea, then your license will likely be suspended after the arraignment.
If you enter a not guilty plea, then you must file discovery motions, motions to suppress evidence, and other motions before or within ten (10) days after the arraignment. These motions are the basis for your defense. It is vital not to waive any of your rights by failing to file the right motions at this stage in the case.
Step 4: The Preliminary Motion Hearings
The purpose of motions to suppress evidence is prevent the prosecution from using certain evidence against you at trial. As stated above, it is imperative that these motions raise every possible defense and are filed before or within ten (10) days of the arraignment.
Motions are designed gather police reports and evidence in the possession of the prosecutor and to argue for exclusion of certain evidence if your rights were violated due to an unlawful search and seizure. When evidence is successfully challenged in a case, then the case may be dismissed or the prosecution may offer a plea bargain for a lesser offense due to limited evidence against you.
Step 5: The Trial
At trial, the prosecution must prove that you are guilty of driving under the influence beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced criminal defense attorney can hire and subpoena expert witnesses, present evidence and utilize alternative theories to support your innocence. Based on the evidence, you may be found guilty or not guilty. If you are found guilty of a DUI offense, then you can appeal the judgment.
Call the law offices of Fleming and Nelson today if you have been arrested for DUI in Augusta, Georgia at 706-434-8770.