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What Is The Timeline From Arrest To Trial For A DUI?


We would not know how long it might take until we had gathered all the evidence, and also it would be the client’s final decision whether or not a case would go to a jury trial. The attorney could help and advise the client, but ultimately the client would be the one who got to make that decision. If someone got arrested on January 1st, then depending on what county they were in, they would typically have a court date within about a month, by around the end of January.

When Should Someone Request The DMV Hearing?

The client would have only 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV, so it needs to be done right away. The client should always have their attorney do this process, because the attorney would be able to try and get a more favorable DMV hearing officer and a location and time that worked for them. Most DMV hearing officers are like rubber stamps who would not grant a set aside of suspension to anybody. If that hearing was not requested within 10 days, or if the person did not have their attorney do it within 10 days, then they would not have a license 30 days after their arrest.

What Happens On The First Court Date?

The first court appearance is called an arraignment, and in most counties the attorney would be able to go in on behalf of their client to enter a plea of not guilty, get a police report and set a new court date which would typically be 1 or 2 months out depending on what county the person was in.

Most of the discovery would be completed between the first and second court dates and they would have to request a video which is usually called an MVARS which is from the dash cam that a lot of the police cars have, specifically, CHP. Almost all CHP cars have those now in a lot of the more local stations and counties and a lot more cars are having this installed in their vehicles nowadays.

The attorney would also have to gather records on the breath machines they used. We would have to get records for the blood testing that was done with the chromatograph which was used to test blood, and sometimes we would have to have the blood retested. Investigators would need to talk to potential witnesses, investigate the scene and take pictures because pictures might sometimes be needed depending on the type of case it was.

How Long Would The DMV hearing Last?

The DMV hearing would typically be set about 4 to 6 weeks out from when the hearing was requested. That would often get continued once or twice so that would probably go on for a number of months depending on which court we were in, so we would often have to go back 2 to 4 times.

We might even need to go in more times than that if we ran a suppression motion, which would contest the probable cause the officer used to stop the person, so we could say the officer did not have sufficient reason to stop the person; they did not have a warrant, which they rarely if ever have, to stop the person for the DUI and maybe the person’s driving was not actually as bad as they claimed it was.

How Long Would The Whole DUI Case Take?

Over the years we have won many of these motions and it may be worth it to bring one, although it could take a while. Typically, if we did not bring a suppression motion and got all our evidence together but were unable to win the case, then the case would probably go on for 3 or 4 months, although it could sometimes be over a little quicker than that. It could also take longer than that. I have handled a lot of cases that went on for 6 months to a year and sometimes even longer. The ones that go to trial are typically the ones that go on for longer.

In some counties, where testing for drugs in the system can take a long time, specifically Contra Costa County and many other counties including a lot of the North Bay Counties, Napa, Sonoma and Marin County, it can take a long time for the prosecutor’s office to actually file charges. I may go to court for my client by the end of January and find that the case may still not have been filed, so I would have to let my client know that the DA’s office or the clerk’s office would be sending them a letter stating when the court date would be. That letter could show up anytime within a week to many months.

What Happens If The DA Files Charges Late?

The DA’s office would almost always file charges if they had to, within a year. If it took them more than a year, then in most cases we would need to bring a speedy trial motion saying there was too much of a delay and that the case should be dismissed based on a violation of the person’s right to a speedy trial.

These cases rarely go on for years, and I have not had a case that went on for a year and a half to 2 years in quite some time. A lot of the courts really just squeeze the attorneys to get them to get the ball rolling by either doing a trial or working out a negotiated plea.

For more information on Timeline For DUI Cases, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (415) 523-7878 today.

Aaron Bortel

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