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The OWI Court Process

A driving under the influence (DUI) conviction has many negative consequences. A DUI will cost you a considerable amount of time and money. A DUI could cost you your driver’s license for a period of time and can have a terrible impact on your reputation. Many defendants have no idea how the DUI court process works.

You might have many questions and few answers: How much will your fines be? How much time will you have to spend in jail or prison? How long will you lose your license?

Having an experienced and knowledgeable Ann Arbor DUI defense lawyer may help you through the legal aspects of the DUI criminal system. I am DUI attorney Stacey M. Washington, and I will listen to you and answer your questions. Contact my Ann Arbor law office at 734-274-6567.

What Is The DUI Court Process In Washtenaw County?

After an arrest and testing for blood alcohol content (BAC), the driver will be placed in jail until they are under the .08 legal limit and safe to drive. The driver will be released after paying a bond or on their own recognizance (promise to appear in court). After the prosecutor authorizes a particular DUI charge, the following legal process will be set in motion:

  • Arraignment: The first court appearance for the defendant is the arraignment where they will plead guilty or not guilty. If the defendant pleads guilty, the judge will schedule a sentencing hearing date. If the defendant pleads not guilty, a preliminary examination or pretrial hearing date is set.
  • Preliminary examination: The preliminary examination is a mini-trial or hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge the defendant with a felony DUI. It is also the first opportunity to negotiate a resolution with the prosecutor. A successful preliminary examination can lead to a complete dismissal of the charge or a reduction to a lesser offense. If no agreement is reached and there is no guilty plea, a pretrial hearing date is set.
  • Pretrial hearing: The pretrial hearing is an opportunity for the judge to be updated about the case. It is also an opportunity for the defendant and the prosecutor to negotiate. A skilled and experienced Ann Arbor DUI lawyer may be able to get a plea and/or sentence bargain for the defendant at the pretrial hearing. If plea negotiations are successful, a sentencing hearing is scheduled. If no plea bargain is reached, a trial date will be set.
  • Pretrial motions: The defendant may present evidence and cross-examine the arresting officer during pretrial motion hearings. If an expert witness is going to be used by either side, that witness may be introduced during this time. Arguments to suppress evidence or dismiss the case are usually heard during the pretrial motions.
  • Trial: The trial can be either a bench trial or a jury trial. During a jury trial, the judge will determine the law and the jury will determine the facts. In a bench trial, the judge will handle both. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will schedule a sentencing hearing. If the defendant is found not guilty, all charges will be dropped.
  • Sentencing: The sentencing hearing is the time when the judge imposes fines, costs, jail or prison time, probation and other penalties. In Washtenaw County, the judge will have the defendant talk to a probation officer or have an alcohol/substance abuse assessment for recommendations before imposing the sentence.
  • Appeal: A Michigan DUI conviction can be appealed. If the defendant or defense attorney thinks there was an error at some time during the trial, an appeal is the likely course of action. The appeal, however, has to be made in a timely manner. There is no automatic right to appeal a conviction resulting from a guilty plea.

Know Your Rights And Options

A DUI conviction will change your life forever. A DUI conviction is serious and costly. Finding an Ann Arbor DUI attorney familiar with the law and court process can help you minimize or avoid costs and penalties. Being well-represented in and out of court is one of the most effective ways to help you limit negative DUI consequences.

I am available to fight for you or a family member. Contact my Ann Arbor law office at 734-274-6567.