Stages of a DUI Case

Are you wondering about the stages of a DUI case?

Have you spoken with an experienced Scottsdale DUI attorney?

Most DUI/DWI clients are first-time offenders with little to no experience with the criminal justice system.  As a result, it’s important to have an experienced Scottsdale DUI lawyer on your side to carefully guide you through the process of a DUI charge.  Below are some of the stages common to most DUI/DWI cases.


The first stage of a drunk driving or DWI case is arrest. With most DUIs an officer performs a stop of the vehicle based upon reasonable suspicion of DUI/DWI. After stopping the vehicle, an officer will typically question the driver, perform field sobriety tests, and administer a breath test, a blood test, or both.  If the evidence gives the officer probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence you may be arrested for DUI. The arresting officer has the discretion to book you into jail, send you to a detox facility, or allow someone to pick you up.  Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you be courteous to the arresting officer without incriminating yourself.

Admin Per Se/Implied Consent Hearings

At the time of your arrest, the arresting officer normally hands to you the Admin Per Se/Implied Consent Affidavit.  On the back of these forms, it states that your license will be suspended within fifteen (15) days unless a hearing with the MVD is requested.  If you submit a timely request your license suspension is put on hold pending the outcome of the MVD hearing. At the hearing, you are given an opportunity to prove to the Administrative Law Judge that your license suspension should be reversed.  An MVD hearing is less formal than a criminal proceeding as the rules of evidence do not apply.  Furthermore, certain issues such as whether there was a valid stop are outside the scope of the MVD hearing.


Your first appearance in court is called arraignment.  The date, time, and location of the arraignment can be found on the citation issued to you at the time of the arrest.  The arraignment is the stage in the procedure where the judge reads the charges against you and asks whether you plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. A Scottsdale DUI attorney may be able to vacate the hearing so that you do not have to attend.

Pre-Trial Conferences

A pre-trial conference is a meeting between you (or your attorney) and the prosecutor to discuss any legal or factual arguments concerning the case, resolve any discovery issues, and ultimately attempt to negotiate a plea deal. There are several pre-trial conferences in a DUI case.  Appearances at any pretrial conferences can generally be waived if you have counsel.


Before the trial begins the defense and prosecution are given an opportunity to introduce motions.  A motion that is often filed in a DUI case is a Motion to Suppress (exclude) evidence.  After written motions are filed oral arguments are held.  Ultimately, the judge issues a ruling that both parties must abide by during the trial.


If you are unwilling to accept the plea agreement (if any) offered by the state your case will be set for trial.  At trial, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against you.  Alternatively, defense counsel must instill doubt into the minds of the jurors (or judge) that you are not guilty of DUI/DWI.  There are many stages of a DUI trial which include jury selection known as voir dire, opening statements by the state and defense, the state’s case, the defense’s case, closing arguments by the state and defense, jury instruction and deliberation, and the reading of the verdict.


If you are convicted of DUI a judge will consider mitigating factors presented by the defense as well as recommendations by the state in determining your sentence.  A typical sentence for a DUI conviction in Arizona includes jail/prison time, hefty fines, probation, alcohol/drug evaluation/treatment, an ignition interlock device, a MADD victim impact panel, and suspension/revocation of your license.