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Drunk Driving: New Jersey Process: What to Expect After a DUI/DWI Arrest

After a DUI/DWI arrest in New Jersey, the legal process moves quickly. Here is what you can generally expect once you have been ticketed in a drunk driving arrest:

1. The Arraignment

At some point before the end of your encounter with the police, you most likely received a summons (this is your “ticket”). The summons should identify the traffic offenses with which you are being charged, and it should state the date of your first court date, which is called an “arraignment.”

The arraignment happens quickly—usually within a week, and often with a few days of the arrest. During the arraignment, a judge will read the charges against you, inform you of the potential penalties and advise you to seek legal representation (if you have not done so already). Unless your attorney advises you to waive the arraignment and files the necessary paperwork, it is extremely important that you attend.

2. Investigation (Discovery)

When you hire a DUI lawyer to handle your DUI/DWI case, either before or after the arraignment, one of the first things your lawyer should do is request information from the prosecution. This part of the process is known as “discovery.” In a typical case, a DUI/DWI defense attorney will request information and records such as:

  • Any video or audio recordings from your arrest
  • A copy of your Alcotest (blood alcohol test (BAC)) results, including foundational and supporting documents
  • The arresting officer’s name and contact information (if you don’t have it)

In addition, depending upon the circumstances involved, your attorney may conduct an independent investigation. This could involve hiring an investigator to take photos of the scene, talking to witnesses and collecting any other evidence that could support your defense.

3. Pretrial Status Conference

Once the discovery process is underway, your attorney and the prosecutor will meet to discuss your case. Depending upon the facts and nature of your case, these discussions may result in the prosecutor offering a downgraded charge. If you receive an acceptable offer and the court approves of the lesser offense, your case can be resolved prior to trial. If not, your attorney will continue fighting on your behalf.

4. Pretrial Motions and Suppression Hearing

If it appears that any of the evidence against you was illegally obtained, your attorney may move to have the evidence suppressed (excluded) from your trial. Your attorney will also file any motions necessary to challenge any other violations of your legal and Constitutional rights.

5. DUI/DWI Trial

DUI trials are fairly rare. More often than not, DUI cases are resolved by motions. Still, once all of the pretrial matters have been resolved, your case may end up going to trial before a judge (which is known as a “bench trial”). Your attorney will present your defense strategy, and the prosecutor will argue for conviction. If the judge is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the offense (or offenses) charged, you will be sentenced immediately. If the judge finds you not guilty, you will be free to go.

Hire Experienced Legal Representation for Your New Jersey DUI/DWI

Have you been arrested for drunk driving in New Jersey? If so, contact Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. now for a free consultation. To speak with a DUI/DWI defense attorney in confidence, call 1-877-435-6371 or submit your case online today.

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