eing charged with drunk driving in Rockford, Machesney Park, Loves Park or anywhere in Illinois can be a very stressful and traumatizing experience. Calling a lawyer and knowing what to expect can help ease some of the uncertainty of the DUI trial process.
Because of the severity of punishment with a DUI — penalties for a drunk-driving conviction include probation, fines, loss of driving privileges and even jail time — it is important to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney to represent you in court. Having an lawyer on your side increases your odds of having your charges minimized or even dismissed.
The first hearing you attend after being arrested for DUI is the arraignment. During arraignment, a judge will read charges against you and ask you to enter a plea. There are three answers you can give: guilty, not guilty or no contest.
Many DUI cases do not get past the arraignment stage of the trial because many defendants plead guilty. If you enter a guilty or no contest plea, the judge may sentence you on the spot. If you plead not guilty, the judge will announce the dates for your pre-trial motions and trial.
After the arraignment is the preliminary hearing. During this hearing, the judge will review the evidence against you to determine if there is enough to convict you for drunk driving. Before the case goes to trial, your attorney may file pre-trial motions. These motions are used to keep unfavorable evidence from being introduced in court. For example, if you made a self-incriminating statement before your Miranda Rights were read, your lawyer may file to keep this statement from being used in trial.
After the pre-trial motions are filed, the DUI trial will begin. It is during this time that the prosecution and defense present their evidence before a jury. Witnesses may be called to provide favorable testimony for each side. After the prosecution and defense have presented their cases, the jury must deliberate in order to decide on a verdict.
If the jury finds you not guilty, the case is over. If you are found guilty, the judge will sentence you to criminal penalties.
There are many steps in a DUI trial and many changes to expose yourself to risk. It is very important that you hire a DUI defense attorney as early in the process as possibly to minimize your risk of an unfavorable outcome. If you have recently been charged with drinking and driving, it is in your best interest to hire skilled legal representation as soon as possible.