When you are pulled over for drinking and driving, you will not be dealing with just one case but potentially up to three different cases in three different jurisdictions. Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol (DUI) and Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) are cases in County Court. You will also be subject to an administrative proceeding at the DMV in which your driver’s license could be revoked. Finally, if you were charged with a petty offence, you could face charges in municipal court.
 The DMV can revoke the license of individuals charged with DUI and DWAI. The DMV is an administrative body and takes action through hearings. The authority for the DMV to act comes from the legislature via statute. To have a hearing before your license is revoked, you must request the hearing. No hearing will occur unless you request the hearing. This request must be made in person at a DMV office within seven (7) days of the offense. At this time you will be given the option of having the officer who cited you attend the hearing; it is to your benefit to request that the officer attend the hearing. If you request that the officer attend the hearing and he or she is unable, your license will not be revoked. After the hearing has been requested, you will receive notification by mail of the date of your hearing. The hearing will occur at a DMV office and will be attended by a DMV hearings officer, the police officer involved in your citation, and you or your attorney. The DMV hearing is a heavily procedural matter and it is recommend that you retain an attorney to oversee this process. At the DMV, the hearing officer will ascertain whether, by a preponderance of the evidence, you were in control of a vehicle while intoxicated.  A preponderance of the evidence means that the hearings officer determines it is more likely than not that the event occurred. This is a much lower standard than the one required in county or municipal court.
County court is where the DUI/DWAI appearance, and if necessary trial, will take place. You will be given a time and date on your citation which notifies you of your first court appearance. Failure to attend any court appearances will result in the court issuing a warrant for your arrest. You will probably make several appearances. At some point you will be given a plea offer, the charges may be reduced and the District Attorney will recommend punishment. You can choose to take this offer and plead guilty or proceed to trial. At trial, the District Attorney must prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt – this is a much higher standard than the DMV standard of a preponderance of the evidence. While it is not necessary to retain an attorney, it is highly recommended that you discuss your case with an attorney. An attorney may notice an important element of your case which you have not considered. Additionally, an attorney will be able to negotiate with the District Attorney to get you a better offer and tell you if an offer is in your best interest.
You might be charged with another offense when you are charged with DUI or DWAI. Sometimes that offense is in County Court with your DUI/DWAI, for example, lane violations or failure to present insurance. Other times that offense is in municipal court. Some examples of an offense that would bring you to municipal court are resisting arrest or a noise complaint.  Municipal court is like county court but the process is generally faster and the potential penalties are limited.
The DUI/DWAI process can be overwhelming and the procedures of many jurisdictions do not make the process easier. At Peter Loyd Weber and Associates, our attorneys can guide you through the process to ensure that you understand what is happening and how it could affect you presently and in the future.
Categories: Civil Rights, DUI