A lot of people who are arrested for DUI, this is their first encounter with law enforcement and the court system, and it’s a very scary situation. After being arrested you’re going to receive a court date – it’s usually about two to three weeks after your arrest and it’s called an arraignment date.
You will have to go to that unless you’ve hired an attorney who can waive your appearance. But if you do go to the arraignment yourself the court’s going to call you up and they’re going to tell you what you’re officially being charged with. In the case of a DUI they’re going to tell you you’re being charged with a DUI, whether it’s with property damage or enhance, and the judge is going to give you an opportunity to enter one of three pleas; guilty, not guilty or no contest.
No contest is pretty much the same as a guilty plea accept without taking any reliability; you’re neither admitting it or denying it.
If you enter a not-guilt plea the court will then set your case for a different court date; either a pretrial conference or docket sounding, and that’s usually about a month after. During the docket sounding, pretrial conference or whatever the court calls it, that’s an opportunity for your attorney to discuss with the State attorney’s office a resolution in your case and also to inform the court about where you’re at in the case.
After that your case is usually set for trail or it could be continued to another court docket based on more time for discovery, or in our situation, we file motions in all of our DUI cases and a lot of times we have to extend the pretrial conference to have time to have our motion set for hearing.
Once all issues are resolved, as far as motion practice, then your case will either be set for plea or it will be set for trial.
A DUI is not a quick process. From the time of arrest to the time of resolution it can range anywhere from two to three months to up to a year, depending on your case. That’s why it’s important to sit down with a DUI attorney so they can appropriately evaluate your case and set up a game plan and a strategic plan on resolving your case.