After a DWI or DUI arrest, you are likely scared, anxious, and confused about the next steps. Here, we will explain what you should expect such as administrative hearings, arraignment, pleas, and trial. After an arrest, you must contact an experienced attorney who is ready to fight for your freedom.
Major court dates arrive quickly, so it’s important to hire an experienced DWI attorney at the beginning of this process. (See our How To Hire An Attorney page for additional information).
The DWI attorneys at Collins, Collins & Ray Law Firm are here to answer all of your DWI arrest questions– reach out to us today.
In place of your license, you will be given two pink sheets of paper – these are very important. One piece will act as your temporary license for up to 30 days after your arrest. The second piece of paper is your request for an administrative hearing. After receiving this second sheet, you must mail or fax the sheet to Driver Control (whose contact information is listed on the sheet) within seven days to request a hearing regarding the immediate suspension of your license.
Failure to send that form to Driver Control will result in a denial of hearing regarding your license. Although this process is established, by law, as an administrative “hearing”, most cases will result in an automatic finding that your license is suspended. The duration of the suspension depends on whether it’s a first-offense DWI, a subsequent DWI, or a DUI (see penalties and consequences section for specific details). It is important that the hearing request form be submitted to Driver Control within this 7-day period because it is also how you begin the process of getting an interlock device installed on your car.
Please note that in most cases, your license will be automatically suspended by Driver Control after your temporary license expires. Once this happens, Driver Control will issue an “Interlock Order” stating that you are eligible for an interlock device on your vehicle.
Driver Control will provide you with a list of local interlock providers who can install your interlock device. In addition to an installation fee, you will pay a monthly maintenance fee. These fees vary and are paid to the interlock provider. After installation, the provider will give you a certificate of installation, which you will then share with Driver Control. At this time, Driver Control will issue you a restricted license.
The interlock device attaches to your ignition, and you must blow into the device to start your vehicle. If there is a detectable amount of alcohol in your system the vehicle will not start. You will also be required to blow periodically while operating the vehicle to continue driving.
Your first court date and where you must appear will be written on the ticket you received from the arresting officer. This court date is typically called a plea and arraignment date, where guilty or not guilty pleas are accepted. We rarely suggest that our clients plead guilty.
If you plead guilty on this date, you are sentenced immediately and your case, except for the consequences, is over. So is your ability to fight your case. If you plead not guilty, you will be given a trial date. Some people ask if it is acceptable to plead not guilty on the first date and come back later with a guilty plea. This is a very common occurrence. Sometimes there is no opportunity for a Defendant to talk to an attorney prior to the first court date, so a judge will almost always understand why someone would change pleas before the first court date and a future court date.
A DWI will affect you for the rest of your life, so it’s important to hire one of the attorneys here at Collins, Collins and Ray Law Firm to handle the plea and arraignment date for you so you don’t have to appear in court. It is at this court appearance that you will be given a trial date.
We understand that you want to put this ordeal behind you as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this process is not quick. This stage seems daunting, but it’s vital to ensure we can properly fight for you. During this time, we will work to compile pertinent records relating to your case from the courts, police, Department of Health, and other agencies that may be involved in your case. You’re anxious, and we get that. That’s why we want you to call us anytime for updates on your case.
It’s important to lean on your attorney as your court date nears because we understand the facts of your cause and we can reassure you. A defendant testifying at trial is rare since we do the talking on your behalf during trial and court appearances. Should you need to testify at trial, we will work with you, ensuring you are ready to take the stand with confidence.
We recommend arriving at your court date or trial about 15 minutes early. Please arrive in business casual attire. There are typically several DWI or DUI cases set for trial on your court date, so be prepared to wait at the court for several hours.
Should you lose your case, you have the automatic right to an appeal. Your first case appears in District Court. Cases appealed in District Court then go to Circuit Court. With your case now in Circuit Court, we will start from the beginning – receiving new plea and arraignment for you.
A new plea and arraignment is usually required, so the paperwork from your case must be replicated. You will then have a new trial. The great thing about this appeal is that you can choose to have a jury trial instead of having the case heard and decided by a judge. The bad news is the choice to have a jury hear the case is not yours alone– the prosecution can also get a jury trial. This means if you want a judge to decide your case, but the prosection wants a jury, the prosecution can force you to have a jury trial. The other bad thing is a jury will get to decide your punishment. No matter what trial you have, the attorneys at Collins, Collins & Ray will fight for you every step of the way.