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California DUI: What Are Pre-Trial Procedures?

Los Angeles DUI defense attorneyWhile there are hundreds of DUI lawyers in Los Angeles, most people want immediate answers once arrested for driving under the influence. And because not everyone can afford the best attorney (if they can even afford one at all), it’s important to be able to turn to a trusted resource regarding the timeline of events from the moment of arrest to the actual trial. Consult a Los Angeles DUI lawyer first; then prepare for pre-trial proceedings by knowing which questions to ask.

What should I do between the time I’m arrested and the actual trial?

  • First, research DUI lawyers in Los Angeles and choose one with a great success rate and reputable referrals. Once you have an attorney, he or she will counsel you on such key factors as bail, potential plea bargains—even prior convictions and how to handle them. Pre-trial proceedings or conditions of release such as A.A. meetings are, in essence, the events leading up to trial wherein the prosecutor (the state) and the defendant (you) can review case details and evidence in order to complete the process quickly and efficiently.

What are some terms I should know?

  • Arraignment: This refers to the court proceeding during which you plead either “guilty” or “not guilty” to the DUI charges in front of a judge. Understand you can always plead “guilty” later or accept a plea bargain once you’ve chosen to plead “not guilty.” Furthermore, it is important you do not admit to any prior DUI convictions at this stage. It is completely proper to “deny” them.
  • Motion to suppress: If your attorney agrees that any evidence (such as a blood or breathalyzer test) was obtained illegally, he or she can request the results be excluded during trial. This motion takes place in front of a judge and is incredibly technical—often involving the arresting officer.
  • “Strike a prior”: This refers to the removal of prior DUI convictions from the charger in an effort to minimize harsher fines and jail sentences.

What is a pre-trial conference?

  • Simply put, this is when you’ll have the option to accept a plea deal in front of the judge if the prosecutor offers you one. Be prepared to be verbally “strong-armed” as many prosecutors will make it seem as if you have no case and may as well give up and accept their offer. The judge will also discuss sentencing for all possible outcomes and, because they deal with so many DUI cases, will often persuade you to settle in order to avoid trial by jury and to close the case. It is your right to maintain innocence; you may have to discuss your defense at this time.

Another benefit of choosing an experienced attorney that specializes in DUI is that he or she will be familiar with various judges—several of whom have a reputation for favoring prosecutors and imposing stricter DUI penalties. By knowing the full scope of pre-trial proceedings, your attorney can do everything in their power to avoid such stringent judges. The most important thing is to understand all steps and follow the guidance of a trusted attorney so that you don’t incriminate yourself before your case reaches trial. Be wary of lawyers who overpromise results. The reality is that prosecutors in DUI courts know which attorneys actually take DUI cases to trial and the few of them that win at trial, and those attorneys get better results for their clients.

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