Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) several years ago, but I did not show up for my court date. Now there is a warrant out for my arrest. What are my options? I do not want to go to jail?” It’s not unusual for drivers to be charged with DUI and fail to appear in court. Sometimes it’s an honest mistake and the defendant did not understand where and when to appear. Other times, however, failure to appear is an intentional action to avoid criminal prosecution.
Failure to appear in court for whatever reason, however, allows the judge to issue a bench warrant, which notifies law enforcement to seize the individual.
What Can You Do If There Is a Bench Warrant Out For Your Arrest?
Unlike a regular warrant, which simply allows the police officers to find the driver, put him in jail, and process him for the crime. A bench warrant is issued after the driver did not show up for his court case.
Failure to show may now allow the police to find the driver, take him into police custody, and incarcerate him until the case is processed. Drivers who have a bench warrant out for their arrest need to contact a lawyer immediately.
The lawyer will contact the court, arrange for the driver to be picked up by the police, and work with the court to get a resolution to the case. In some cases, the lawyer may be able to negotiate time served, probation, or bail.
Arraignment after the arrest
After the driver surrenders himself to police custody, they will be taken to jail and processed. The next step is the arraignment, which is generally the first appearance in court.
The arraignment should be held as close to the arrest as possible, and allows the court to issue the charges against the driver. When the charges are read the defendant has the right to plead not guilty, no contest, or guilty. The judge will then determine if there is bail and schedule another court hearing.
How aggressively will they pursue me if a bench warrant has been issued?
Whether it is a priority for the state to track a driver down after a bench warrant has been issued will depend on the case load of the police and the officers available. In most cases, the court may just issue the bench warrant and wait to see if the defendant is ever arrested or charged with another crime.
For instance, drivers are often found after a routine traffic when the police officer does a standard DMV check and sees that there is bench warrant out for their arrest. Other violators may be found if the court has information about their last known address and sends officers to their home to find them.
After several years you are probably tired of having the DUI arrest hanging over your head. It’s probably best simply to contact a DUI lawyer and make arrangements to turn yourself in. The DUI lawyer can talk to the prosecutor and discuss the best options for your case.
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