When you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in New Jersey, your first court date is your arraignment. This is a formal court proceeding during which the judge informs you of your charge (or charges) and you to enter your plea. Once your arraignment has been scheduled, you are required to show up—and it is best to show up with a New Jersey DUI lawyer representing you. In general, it’s worth noting that one reason why you would not be required to appear is if your attorney has managed to get the arraignment waived and they enter a plea on your behalf. However, this article assumes there was no such waiver.
So, what happens if you fail to appear for your DUI arraignment?
What Happens if You Fail to Appear for Your DUI Arraignment?
A few things can happen if you miss your DUI arraignment. One possibility is that the judge will issue a failure to appear notice. If this happens, you will need to follow the instructions on the notice to make sure you still have an opportunity to defend against your DUI.
Another possibility is that the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If the judge issues a bench warrant, this does not necessarily mean that the police will come to hunt you down, but it does mean that you could be taken into custody if you get stopped again. It also means that you could have a more difficult time defending yourself next time you show up in court (which you will still need to—your DUI charge isn’t simply going to go away).
The judge can also suspend your driver’s license if you fail to appear in court. Of course, there is a good chance that this may happen regardless as a result of your DUI. But, if you currently still have your driving privileges, you could lose them while your DUI case is pending as a result of your failure to appear.
What Can (and Should) You Do if You Missed Your DUI Arraignment?
If you missed your arraignment, you will want to consult with a New Jersey DUI lawyer promptly to determine your next steps. Your attorney may be able to go to court and convince the judge to lift your bench warrant and/or restore your driving privileges. However, you will need to have a good reason for your failure to appear. Generally speaking, this does not include:
- You were running late
- Your car broke down
- You couldn’t get a ride
- You weren’t feeling well
- You had to go to work
- You forgot about your arraignment
To avoid consequences for a failure to appear, you will typically need to convince the judge that either (i) you never received notification of your court date or (ii) you had an emergency or a death in the family. With that said, you may have other options, and you should speak with a lawyer to ensure that you take the best approach given the particular circumstances of your case.
Talk to a New Jersey DUI Lawyer in Confidence
Did you miss your DUI arraignment? If so, we can help. To discuss your situation with an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer in confidence, call 877-435-6371 or request an appointment online now.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending DUI cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.