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What to Expect in the DC DUI Case Process

Someone charged with driving under the influence should expect their case to take at minimum two to three months, as the prosecution must determine how to proceed with the case.

At the same time, the DUI defense lawyer analyzes the evidence the prosecution has such as police reports, camera footage if there are anybody cameras, video from the station-house, and interviewing any witnesses. These things happen as the case starts off.

Cases can be complicated, so it is important to work with an experienced DUI defense attorney when facing charges as they can advise their client on what to expect in the DC DUI case process moving forward.

Following an Arrest

When someone is arrested for DUI in DC, they are taken to one of the seven police districts located around the city. When someone is arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department, they are taken to the local police department.

If the person is arrested by US Capitol Police, they are taken to the US Capitol Police station. If they are arrested by US Park Police, they can be taken to any of their several police stations.

The person is taken to a police station to be processed. They are fingerprinted, have their picture taken, and may be given a breathalyzer test.

Since DC does not have bonds, when someone is arrested on a DUI, they are usually released without having to go to court from jail.

They are arrested, taken to a police station, held for few hours, and given a citation to come to court. Usually, a person is not held and is not required to go before a judge before being released.

Testing

Beginning the DC DUI case process, the person should expect to be given a urine test for the presence of alcohol or drugs. If that is positive, the person must test weekly, until there is a track record of negative tests.

It is critical to have an initial negative test to avoid repeat testing. They do not get their full discovery in the form of police reports and learn who the prosecutor is until their first hearing which is the arraignment. The next court date is scheduled around 30 days after.

When the parties have not agreed on some resolution at that status hearing, there is a second status hearing or the setting of a trial date. That does not necessarily mean that the case will proceed to trial, but that is the next part of the process.

Length of a Case

Negotiation, discovery, investigation, and litigation can continue. When someone has a prior DUI or the government seeks to introduce evidence that the person was convicted of a similar offense in DC or some other jurisdiction within the past 15 years, that can trigger a person’s right to have a jury trial.

If they choose to keep that right, the case is a repeat offense DUI. The trial may not be set for six to nine months down the road because of the jury trial calendar back up.

These are things someone charged with a DUI needs to understand. They should expect that their DC DUI case may not be resolved quickly.

In a DUI case, all of the investigation that law enforcement can do is completed within the first couple of hours of coming into contact with the person. If law enforcement wants to prove that a person is under the influence, they must do so while they are under the influence.

Government Role

The government’s work is done upfront before the person is in court. By the time they have their attorney, the attorney is playing catch up.

On day one after their arrest, it is reasonable to expect that all of the police officers and other individuals involved as potential witnesses against the person are available and around. That might not be true on day 100.

The government has the duty to put their case together and maintain the integrity of their case to protect it against the person in court. A trial is not going to happen a week after the DUI arrest and might not happen after several months.

Ending a Case

If during the course of those several months, one or more of the witnesses leave the area, commit crimes, are fired from the police department, are deployed overseas, or are no longer available, the government’s case becomes weaker.

No one should be in a hurry to try to end the case or press the case when the government’s case is at its strongest.

It is not ethical for an attorney to want to extend the case and push a case out solely for the purpose of pushing a case out. At the same time, a client needs to know to not be in such a hurry.

If the person’s attorney needs time to prepare their defense and explore every possible defense to look for motions or issues, the client should not be in a hurry because being in a hurry plays into the government’s strength.

A DUI attorney can help explain all expectations of the DC DUI case process and explain any strategies they have in their defense.

Importance of Immediate Representation

When someone is charged with a DUI, they should contact an attorney as soon as possible. They might be allowed to make a phone call upon being arrested or at the police station.

If there is no opportunity to call an attorney during the arrest process, the person should call an attorney upon release from police custody.

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