If you or loved one were arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania then you probably have many questions at the moment.
One of the most common questions after a DUI arrest that we here from our clients is:
“What happens now?”
The fear of the unknown after a DUI can be overwhelming and can lead to lots of unnecessary stress.
Our Pennsylvania DUI lawyers are here to help answer this important question and assist you through the entire DUI process.
What To Expect After A DUI Arrest In PA
When – Usually Immediately After A DUI Arrest
After you are arrested on suspicion of DUI you will usually be taken to the local law enforcement station for booking.
Booking is the process of creating an official record of the arrest and involves gathering information about the arrested suspect including his or her name, date of birth, photographs, etc.
However, sometimes a different procedure is followed after a DUI arrest in Pennsylvania in which the arrested suspect is not immediately booked and is instead advised that he or she will receive a summons in the mail to appear before court.
If this is the case, then the individual will typically be “booked” shortly before or after the preliminary hearing which is discussed below.
When – Usually Within 30 to 60 Days After Arrest
The first time you will appear in court is usually during your preliminary hearing. This hearing will be held in the local District Court in the district where you were stopped and arrested for DUI.
The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine whether or not sufficient evidence exists that a crime was committed in order to require a trial.
In other words, the prosecutor (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in this case) needs to show that probable cause exists that the accused defendant (you in this case) committed a crime (DUI in this case) so that the prosecution can proceed to trial.
The law allows for you to have legal counsel at your preliminary hearing and this is highly recommended as this can be a crucial stage in the DUI process.
Depending on the specific circumstances of your DUI arrest, the preliminary hearing could even be an opportunity to have the charges against you dismissed or amended with the help of an experienced DUI defense attorney.
If it is determined that there is sufficient evidence or probable cause during the preliminary hearing, then your case will be scheduled for arraignment and trial.
Formal Arraignment Hearing
When – Typically Within 60 Days After Preliminary Hearing
If sufficient evidence is presented during the Preliminary Trial to require a trial, then your case will be moved to the Court of Common Pleas for formal arraignment.
The formal arraignment is held at the County Court of Common Pleas in the county where you were stopped and arrested.
During the formal arraignment you will be informed of the specific details of the charges against you, as well as certain rights that you have, and will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
By pleading “not guilty” your case will be sent to trial where the details of your case will be examined further.
If a plea bargain is not reached then your case will proceed to trial where a jury will be selected by the district attorney and your DUI defense attorney.
After the jury has been selected, both sides will have the opportunity to present information to the judge and the jury.
This is done by making opening statements, calling witnesses, presenting relevant evidence and delivering closing arguments.
The jury will then meet privately in the jury room to determine the verdict. If found guilty, then the judge will determine your sentence.
Why Go To Trial?
The thought of a DUI trial can be intimidating at first, but remember, you are not alone.
In fact, when you decide to work with our experienced DUI defense attorneys you will have a team of highly qualified lawyers fighting for your rights at each and every step of the way.
Many drivers who are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence are not aware of all of their legal options after they have been arrested. As a result, they make the mistake of simply pleading guilty to the charges and accepting the full consequences of a conviction.
However, there are often far better options that can result in a more favorable outcome for individuals arrested on DUI charges.
Our lawyers offer free consultations where we go over your DUI arrest and help you to understand all of your legal options.