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DUI Court Procedure in California

What happens when you're arrested for a DUI in the state of California?What happens when you’re arrested for a DUI in the state of California? That’s a reasonable – and very common – question. Although each situation is different, most DUI cases follow a certain process. By standardizing DUI situations, courts try to provide expedient, efficient service to those who have been arrested.

Here’s a look at a typical DUI court procedure:

  • Arrest. After you’re pulled over for suspicion of a DUI, you’ll be asked to perform field sobriety tests, and you may be asked to submit to a breathalyzer. At each interaction, the officer is looking for probable cause, and if he or she determines you’ve been driving under the influence, you’ll be arrested and taken to jail for booking and processing.
  • Booking and Bail. Booking and bail happen after you’ve been arrested but before you appear at court. Booking occurs at the sheriff’s station or detention center. During booking, an assortment of your personal information will be recorded, including your photo, fingerprints, name, date of birth, and other identifying information. Your personal information – such as credit cards and cell phone – will be confiscated, and the police will place you in a holding cell or jail cell until it’s time for you to be released.
  • If you were arrested for DUI, you probably will be released within twenty-four hours. At times, the justice system may determine that you need to pay money in exchange for release. This is known as bail. If you’re required to pay bail as a condition of your release, you’re essentially paying the courts money as a promise that you’ll appear before a judge when your court date comes up. If you or your family members are unable to pay your bail, you might consider contacting a bail bondsman.
  • Arraignment. The arraignment is the first phase of the courtroom-based proceedings of a DUI case. This is when you’ll plead guilty or innocent, and a judge will then decide how to handle your case. For many people, the arraignment is the only time they need to appear in court. If you are fortunate enough to have an experienced attorney and the case is a misdemeanor, the attorney will appear for you.
  • Preliminary Hearing. The preliminary hearing is basically a mini trial in a felony case. If you pled ‘not guilty’ during the arraignment, the preliminary hearing is the next step in the process. At this phase, the judge will use probable cause to determine if there is enough evidence to present the case to a jury. The judge may hear testimonies and arguments from either side of the case. If the judge determines there is enough evidence to proceed, the case will go to trial, or settle.
  • Trial. If your case goes to trial, a jury will examine the evidence in the case to determine your guilt or innocence. The prosecution will represent the state and present its case first. Then, your attorney will have a chance to defend you. In the end, the jury will decide if you’re guilty or not, as a group.
  • Appeals. In some instances, you may have a good legal basis to exercise your right to appeal your conviction. Appeals can be granted when an attorney can substantiate the fact that significant legal errors may have occurred during the trial or in a denial of a motion to exclude evidence.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in California, you may be facing any number of variables that could affect your case. It’s in your best interest to contact a DUI attorney who can help you understand your rights and navigate the legal process.

The fastest way to contact me: 310-820-1315

Summary
DUI Court Procedure in California
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DUI Court Procedure in California
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What happens when you're arrested for a DUI in the state of California? That's a reasonable – and very common – question. Although each situation is different, most DUI cases follow a certain process.
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Jon Bryant Artz
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