What to expect if your DUI case goes to trial
In DUI cases, oftentimes we can waive our client’s appearance at nearly every hearing. For example, at the arraignment, which is the first court appearance, we’ll waive your appearance and enter a plea of not guilty. Pretrial conferences similarly can be waived. It may be possible or necessary for you to appear if a motion to suppress this file, challenging the evidence, and certainly at trial you need to be present, but the hearings in between, we generally can waive for you to prevent you from having any inconveniences related to taking time off of work, missing school, and having to go back and forth to court. We’re able to waive many of our client’s appearances for DUI cases.
In a DUI trial, there are a number of things that are going to come into play in terms of evidence or challenges to the evidence. It’s not always going to be your word versus the officers; it may be that you don’t ever testify. In many cases, you won’t. You’ll see that the officer testifies, but your lawyer will have an opportunity to cross-examine that officer, to challenge their recollection, to point out inconsistencies in what they had to say, to demonstrate that the evidence perhaps on video is inconsistent with their description that they provide in court. It’s not necessarily he said he said or your word versus their word, it’s more about what’s the substance of the evidence, how can you best challenge it and demonstrate its flaws, inaccuracies or weaknesses and then show the jury that really, there’s more to it than what the officer has to say.
No one can compel you to testify. Whether or not you testify is a decision you should make with the consult of your experienced DUI lawyer. It’s very rare that a client would testify at trial, but that is a decision that needs to be made on a case-by-case basis based on the circumstances. It’s not a compulsion and no one can make you do it. It’s very rare that you would do it, but that’s a conversation to have with your lawyer.
Settling the Case
DUI cases could take weeks to resolve or months to resolve. Some of the factors that play a role in that are how quickly the evidence is disclosed, whether there is any difficulties obtaining video evidence from law enforcement or the State Attorney’s Office, and of course, who the judge is. Some judges hold a much tighter rein on continuances and won’t allow you to have more time to do various things and hold everyone a little more accountable from a time standpoint.
We’ve seen cases resolve in literally a matter of weeks and others that can drag on for months because of the nature of the litigation and what’s being required in that case. It definitely varies.