DUI Case Overview
If you are arrested for suspicion of DUI, you will usually be handcuffed and placed in a patrol car. The officer will usually take you to jail and you will have to remain there until you post bond or get released by a judge.
INITIAL COURT APPEARANCE/ARRAIGNMENT
Usually you are required to make your first court appearance in the days following your arrest. The judge will advise you of your rights and ask you if you plead guilty or not guilty. The judge will also set your next court date.
EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU ARE GUILTY
Even if you think you are guilty and want to face the consequences, you should plead NOT GUILTY at your arraignment and talk to a lawyer about your options. A good lawyer can help you understand how pleading guilty will affect your life and minimize the impact. She can also work to reduce the penalties you will face.
OBTAINING AND ANALYZING EVIDENCE
Your lawyer will obtain and analyze the evidence in your case. In DUI cases, evidence usually consists of body cam footage, officer dash cam footage, and written police reports. Depending on your case, there may be toxicology reports and additional information. Your attorney will scrutinize the evidence for all possible defenses to the charge.
The omnibus hearing is a time to give a status update to the judge about certain aspects of the case. In some cases you are required to attend the omnibus hearing.
If your case does not get resolved sooner, you can exercise your right to go to trial. You can choose either a judge trial (also called a bench trial) or a jury trial. In Montana, six people sit on a jury for a misdemeanor. The jury cannot convict unless all six jurors agree unanimously. Felony trials have 12 jurors.