Following your arrest for DUI, you will have what is logically called your "initial court appearance". Depending upon the jurisdiction where you are being prosecuted, the timing of this court appearance varies. For illustrative purposes as to what happens to you during this court proceeding and thereafter, let me discuss the procedure in Atlanta Municipal Court, which is the Court that handles the DUI cases made throughout the neighborhoods of Atlanta, including Buckhead, Midtown and Downtown. On the bottom of your DUI arrest citation, the trooper or police officer will write the date when you are to appear in Atlanta Municipal Court for your "initial appearance". At this proceeding, you will be called upon to tender a plea of guilty or a plea of not guilty. In response to your question of what happens after you have entered your plea of not guilty, your case will be rescheduled to provide you and your attorney (in my opinion everyone charged with a DUI should be represented by counsel throughout their DUI prosecution) with the opportunity to engage in discovery with the State. This will enable you to receive a copy of the police/trooper DUI Incident Report, a copy of your Intoxilyzer 5000 breath testing machine's analysis of the two breath samples you provided by blowing into the machine (or a copy of the breath testing machine slip indicating you supposedly refused to blow into the machine), access to receiving a copy of, or viewing, the law enforcement video recording of your encounter with the arresting law enforcement officer (assuming of course that the vehicle belonging to the officer or trooper was equipped with a video camera), and the sentencing recommendation of the prosecutor should you later plead guilty or are found guilty following a trial. The rescheduling of your case will also enable your attorney to decide whether he/she should file approriate motions on your behalf with the Court, including a motion to suppress the evidence obtained by the arresting officer/trooper, including the result of the chemical analysis of your breath, blood or urine, the results of the field sobriety tests, the observations of you made by the arresting officer/trooper, and any statements you may have made. After this process is completed, you and your attorney will then have had ample time for the two of you to decide what would be the best course of action for you to take: (1) Do you decide to keep your case in Atlanta Municipal Court. If so, can the DUI be reduced to a lesser charge. If not, do you plead guilty to the DUI, do you request a trial before the Judge (as a jury trial would only be available in Fulton County State Court), or do you "bind" your case over to Fulton County State Court for other alternatives, such as trying to persuade another prosecutor to reduce your DUI or to have either a trial before the Judge sitting without a jury or a jury trial. So, in summary, you will receive other court dates following the tendering of your plea of not guilty wherein you will have ample opportunity with your attorney to decide your best course of action.
You will get a new court date after you plead not guilty. Depending on which jurisdiction, and which court, you are in this next court date could be for a motions hearing, a calendar call, or a pre-trial conference. In either event, once you enter a not guilty plea the case is going to be continued.
James L. Yeargan, Jr. is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. All information given is based only on Georgia law, and is not directly applicable to any other jurisdictions, states, or districts. This response, or any response, is not legal advice. This response, or any response, does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information. Any state specific concerns should be directed to an attorney who is licensed to practice law in that respective state.
This is just one of many questions you will have about your case. You need to find a good DUI lawyer to help you. Do-it-yourself legal work doesn't make much sense. DUI is a serious criminal matter and there are stiff penalties. Take your charges seriously.