There are a surprisingly large number of DUI defendants who have never even seen the inside of a courtroom, other than watching television. For them, the entire process is a frightening blur, starting with the arrest. Now they are being forced to face a judge and have no idea how to prepare or what to expect.
It is no secret; those who prepare for their drunk driving court proceedings have a substantially better chance of achieving success. Although facts, evidence, and a person’s criminal history are important, judges are not going to think highly of you if you step into their domain and act as though you don’t care enough about the process to bring necessary items or documentation. By finding out what you should bring to court for a DUI and fulfilling those requirements you are signaling to the prosecution and the judge that you are taking the process seriously, which could be key to your success.
First Things First: A DUI Lawyer Is A Necessity
The first thing to consider after being charged with a DUI in California is your attorney. For all proceedings regarding your case, you should have a lawyer present and one who has years of experience handling drunk driving cases. They know the laws better than you do and can also work with the prosecution to help reduce your charges if applicable.
Due to the specific circumstances surrounding each case, you will not be able to face DUI charges alone and expect to be successful. A DUI attorney will be looking at evidence such as police reports and the conduct of the officers, plus your blood alcohol level and how and when it was obtained. These are important elements to your case that can help assist in having your charges reduced or even dismissed.
A DUI defense attorney will be able to look at the evidence in your case and give you a fairly accurate assessment of what, if any, type of sentence you will receive. All communication that your lawyer has with the prosecution will be discussed thoroughly with you. Take advantage of his counsel and work together to see to it that you receive the best possible outcome under the circumstance.
When you do go to court with your attorney, it will be their responsibility to make sure all of the necessary documents are provided. They will also be responsible for presenting any evidence on your behalf. Your only role at this point is to respond to any questions the way your attorney has instructed you to.
Having an experienced drunk driving lawyer at your side makes the entire process manageable. They can help you obtain and fill out all the necessary paperwork, make any phone calls on your behalf, and any other arrangements during the course of your case.
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Wear Nice Clothes
Drunk driving is considered to be a serious offense. When you do appear in court you want the judge and prosecutor to see that you realize the seriousness of your charges. Dress appropriately. You don’t have to show up in a three-piece business suit, but you should wear a shirt and tie. For women defendants a professional-looking business suit with a minimal amount of make-up is ideal.
The point is to look as conservative and clean-cut as possible. You are trying to win people over who already have a negative pre-conception of the type of person you are.
Show Up Early
Plan on arriving for any court appearances 45 minutes before they are scheduled. This allows for any delays in traffic and at the security check-point as you enter the building. You will want to leave some cushion to go over any last-minute details with your attorney before your proceedings begin.
If your driver’s license was suspended at the time of your arrest or any subsequent hearings, do not drive yourself to court. Again, you are attempting to show that you are a respectful, law-abiding citizen.
Items You MUST Bring
Before entering the courthouse, you should eliminate from your pockets or purse any items that you do not need. Passing through the security booth is similar to a security gate at an airport so think about what you have on your person. Limit yourself to your ID, keys, and cell phone if you must. Remember though to turn your phone off before entering the courtroom. Even a vibrating phone shows a level of disrespect for the proceedings.
Any type of food or drink should be left outside. This includes gum. Chewing gum during your hearing will not make a good impression on the judge or the prosecutor.
Important Info For First Court Date
Under California law, the State Department of Motor Vehicles has an administrative process to determine whether or not you may keep your driving privileges after a drunk driving offense. This is entirely independent of your criminal case. Speak with your attorney immediately about how you should proceed with the DMV hearing. As a defendant, you only have 10 days following your arrest to request a hearing. Beyond that, the DMV can impose whatever punishment they see fit, without your presence.
Defending a drunk driving charge in California is a multi-step process that may take months to resolve. Be prepared at every step along the way by communicating frequently with your attorney and asking them any questions you may have. Their role is to help you solve this issue with the best possible outcome, therefore they will be happy to advise you on how you can contribute to that, by the way, your present yourself.
Arrested? Contact us today to obtain a free case evaluation from former Deputy District Attorney now award-winning criminal defense attorney Randy Collins and find out what legal options you have available.