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What happens in a DUI trial? This blog guide answers common questions on the arraignment, preliminary hearing, trial, and sentencing. Remember that just getting a DUI charge does not mean you should plead guilty. You need an experienced, local DUI lawyer to help decide your case. However, there are some points which can be helpful in knowing and understanding a trial. The Arraignment A DUI arraignment is where you decide on legal representation and how you will plead. For legal representation, you can defend yourself, use a public defender, or hire a professional DUI lawyer. You have the option of pleading guilty or not guilty; usually, unless you've consulted with your lawyer, you want to plead not guilty to the charges. A misconception is that you should plead guilty if you believe the charges will stick; in fact, you may be able to win. Your Lawyer Should you hire a lawyer? The answer is easy: yes, because proper legal representation is essential in lessening or eliminating charges. A professional DUI lawyer can help you decide how to plea, basing this decision on the police reports and other evidence, while also negotiating with the prosecution. If you defended yourself, you would have no idea on the legal ramifications of police reports, of pleading guilty, nor would you know how to properly defend yourself. A court appointed lawyer is an option, but rarely do they have the time or inclination to properly defend you. Preliminary Hearing FAQ The preliminary hearing in DUI cases varies in scope from state to state. Sometimes the judge can decide if the evidence shown is enough to prove intoxication, such as evidence gained from breath and blood tests, or officer reports. Your lawyer will quite often be able to see what kind of evidence the prosecution is using, making a defense easier. While plea bargaining is an option, it's rarely used. Plea bargaining is not used in many states for DUI charges, because it's widely believed DUI charges should be punished to the full extent of the law. Other states do allow them, but still they're rare. The problem is that most DUI charges will stick. What you can do is negotiate to lessen the penalties; your lawyer can help here. Pre-Trial The pre-trial motions are a good way for your DUI lawyer to keep evidence out of court. Your lawyer plays an integral role in removing key evidence from the prosecution's case. This may be, for example, evidence taken from your car. Trial The DUI trial is where your lawyer earns his or her money. However, quite often this money is earned before the trial: many DUI cases are settled beforehand.  You will have a trial by either judge or jury, who'll way evidence for and against you, decide on what if any penalties you deserve, and come to a verdict. A proper DUI defense can be quite complex. An experienced lawyer is invaluable in lessening penalties, if not removing them entirely. If you are unsure of where to begin, contact a DUI lawyer today.