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Definition - What does Trial mean?

The DUI legal process can be stressful but understanding the process may help. The first step in the DUI process is the arraignment. At the arraignment the driver is read the DUI charges against them and they are asked to submit a plea. Drivers may plead not guilty, no contest or guilty.

Drivers who plead guilty or no contest will be immediately sentenced by the judge. Drivers who plead not guilty will be given a date for filing pre-trial motions, the preliminary hearing and their trial. At the preliminary hearing the judge reviews all of the DUI evidence and determines if the state has enough evidence to continue with the trial. DUI lawyers will also have the opportunity to file motions to suppress any DUI evidence that they believe should not be presented at trial.

The DUI defendant has the constitutional right to a speedy and public trial. The trial can be scheduled after all of the pre-trial motions have been filed but in California, for instance, must be filed within 30 days from the date of the driver's arraignment if they driver is in custody and 45 days from the date of the arraignment if the driver is not in custody (extensions can be made at the request of the client).

The DUI trial allows the defendant to present their case to the jury or judge. The government will present their DUI evidence and the defendant will attempt to refute the government's evidence. The jury's job is to evaluate all of the DUI evidence and determine if the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crimes. Most DUI cases are resolved without ever going to trial.

A DUI trial will consist of the following steps: choosing a jury, opening statements from both the defendant's attorney and the prosecuting attorney, presenting evidence for the defense and the prosecution (including witness statements), closing arguments, instructing the jury, deliberation by the jury and presenting the jury's verdict.

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