Do you have to go to court if you get arrested for DUI?

If you're arrested for a DUI, you will have several court appearances, but you may not need to go to all of them.

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Most people arrested for a DUI will need to make several court appearances, but not always. For example, for every DUI, there’s usually an arraignment day, that’s your first time that you appear in front of a judge and enter of plea of guilty or not guilty to the DUI charge. Usually most lawyers will enter a plea of not guilty at this stage, until they found out the information that the State has against you. There’s absolutely no reason for you to show if you have an attorney. Your attorney will file a paper work for a plea of not guilty, or request for discovery. And those documents will waive your appearance at that first court date.

There’s a second court date usually in a DUI case called pretrial conference.  With the right paper work, a lawyer can actually waive your appearance for that court date as well. Most of the time the rules provide for what’s called a document a client has to sign, which is called a waiver, a pretrial conference. If you sign that document, a lawyer files that for you, usually you won’t have to show up for that court date. The other time that you probably will look pure for court is if you decide to enter a plea to the DUI.

Most lawyers will never advise clients not to appear. In DUI cases, the client often wants to testify. Because, let’s face it, in many cases, the police officers think that you’re drink, or impaired, and you know better than that. So, you want to go to your trial, cause even know you’re not forced to testify against yourself, it may very well come down to the fact that you may take that witness stand and testify that you were not drunk that evening. Also, it’s a good idea to show for your trial, even if you get permission from the judge not to, because the jury of 6 people is going to be watching the whole case. And if they see a lawyer with an empty chair next to him, they are going to think that you’re not interested in your case.

So in many cases, to show the jury and the court you have invested in interest in your future and the case outcome, it would be best to show up with your lawyer even if you don’t necessarily have to testify and/or get up on the stand.

To learn more about your first court appearance after a DUI, see DUI Arraignments.