DWI – What to Expect in the Courtroom

Posted on: May 16, 2018

If you or a loved one has been arrested or cited for a DWI in New York, you may be experiencing stress and overwhelm concerning the process.  Figuring out the next steps can be daunting. Fortunately, we are going to guide you through the post-arrest and courtroom procedure to help you better prepare.  As always, consulting with a DWI lawyer is the best route to ensuring the protection of your rights to get the best outcome possible.

When you are first arrested for a DWI you may be taken into custody and booked at the local county or city jail.  You may not be arrested at the scene and instead given a court date for your arraignment. In both cases, a court date will be assigned where the motorist must appear and be arraigned.

The Arraignment

Your first appearance (and in some your only appearance) is called the arraignment, this is your first meeting with the judge.  The arraignment will proceed as follows:

  • Charges and Your Rights. The judge will read the charges and provide you with copies of documents charging you with a DWI.  Some judges will also read you the rights you have as a criminal defendant, these include the right to plead guilty or not guilty, to have an attorney present or have one appointed, that the district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the accused offenses, that you have a right to a jury trial, etc.

  • Representation. The judge will ask you if you have an attorney.  It is best to come prepared and hire a DWI lawyer before your arraignment.  However, if you are not able to hire one before your arraignment, you can tell the judge you plan to secure a private DWI lawyer.  The judge will likely give you a future date, called a continuance, in order to meet with your new lawyer.

  • Entering a Plea. The judge will ask you how you wish to plea, either guilty or not guilty.  Your DWI lawyer will advise you on your plea, which will typically be “not guilty,” unless there is a plea deal with the district attorney.  If your DWI lawyer is not with you at this point, or you do not have one, it is best to enter a plea of “not guilty.” The judge will set a later date for either a trial or continuance so that you may hire a DWI lawyer.  If you fail to answer, the judge usually will enter a “not guilty” plea for you.

  • Bail. The district attorney may or may not set bail.  If the police set a bail amount, this amount may change as well.

  • Driver’s License. Your driver’s license may be confiscated if you are licensed in the state of New York and/or suspend driving privileges.  If you refused a BAC (blood alcohol test) then an administrative hearing may be set to determine if your driving privileges will be revoked.

  • Future Appearances.  Lastly, the judge will schedule a future court date and inform you of the reason for the future hearing.   The future court appearance could include a pre-trial conference, pre-trial motion request, preliminary hearing, or your trial.

Even if you do not have a DWI lawyer at your arraignment, this article should provide you with the best information on what to expect when appearing for the first time after your citation by the police.  This first appearance is very important because it can dictate how your case proceeds. It is best to hire a DWI lawyer as soon as possible to help you through this process.

NOTE: This blog  is for entertainment purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.