Steps in a DUI Case

If you’re facing a drunk driving charge in Arizona, you may be wondering what to expect. With jail time, fines and a driver’s license suspension on the line, it’s important to defend your drunk driving charge to the fullest extent of the law. Here are the steps involved as a DUI case moves through the court system:

Arrest and a charging decision

After your arrest, the state’s attorney has to make a decision about whether to press charges. If they decide not to press charges, law enforcement releases you from jail or cancels your bond, and the case ends. If the state decides to press charges, your case proceeds to arraignment.


An arraignment is the first appearance in front of a judge. The person charged has the option to plead guilty or not guilty. If the person pleads guilty, the case heads to sentencing. If the person pleads not guilty, the court schedules further proceedings. At the arraignment, the court might address bond conditions, which are things that you should do or avoid doing while you wait for the case’s resolution. Common bond conditions are to notify the court if your address changes and to refrain from consuming alcohol.

Pre-trial conference and investigation

If you work with an experienced DUI attorney Scottsdale, they set out to investigate your case and help you prepare your best defenses. This might involve working with expert witnesses to rebut the state’s scientific evidence. Your attorney might contact lay witnesses and demand that the state produce evidence.

In this time, your attorney might also discuss a plea deal with the state’s attorney in exchange for reduced charges. You don’t have to take a plea deal if you don’t want to. Your attorney can help you make wise decisions about your options.


If you don’t resolve your drunk driving case in another way, it heads to trial. This is where you can call witnesses and question the state’s witnesses. The jury hears all of the evidence and makes a decision about your guilt or innocence. If you’re found not guilty, the court dismisses the case, and it ends. If you’re convicted, the case proceeds to sentencing.

Sentencing hearing

At sentencing, the court decides an appropriate penalty for the offense. Both sides have a chance to make arguments to the judge about what they feel is a fair sentence for the crime. If there are victims, they may address the judge. After sentencing, you complete your sentence. When this includes spending time in jail, you usually do this right away. You pay your fines and decide to complete any other requirements of probation.

If you’re facing a drunk driving charge in Arizona, it’s important to work with an attorney at each step in the process. An attorney can help you ask the judge for bond conditions that allow you to continue to work or care for family. They can help you make wise decisions about your case. Whether it’s at trial or a sentencing hearing, an experienced attorney helps you present your case in the strongest way possible so that you achieve the best possible result.