The DUI Criminal Court Process in California

Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) can be an overwhelming experience.  When you are arrested for a California DUI, two separate cases are generated -- a DMV case and a criminal court case.   Note that all criminal court cases in California begin in the municipal court of the county in which the person was arrested. 

Following a California DUI arrest, the driver is transported to jail where he or she is formally taken into custody.  Fingerprints are taken, chemical testing takes place at this time and the driver may even be further interrogated.  Once booked, the arresting officer will send a written report to the District Attorney's office for evaluation.  At this time, it will be determined whether or not the driver is to be held in custody and must post bailin order to be released, or will be released on his or her own recognizance (OR).  The amount of bail to be paid is determined by a judge and his or her decision is based on the seriousness of the offense.

If a driver is held in custody, then an arraignment will occur within a 48 to 72 hour period after arrest, unless the arrest occurs on a weekend, in which case the arraignment may not take place for about 96 hours after arrest.  If the suspected California DUI driver is released OR, then the arraignment will be scheduled for a later time.  The arraignment is the suspected DUI driver's first court date.  (Note that if the charge is a misdemeanor DUI, then the suspected DUI driver's California DUI attorney can appear on his or her behalf.)  At the arraignment, the judge will advise the suspected DUI driver of his or her constitutional rights and the pending charges against him or her.  At this time the suspected California DUI driver is also asked to enter a plea before the court -- "not guilty," or "guilty."  Pre-trial court dates are also set at this time and are usually scheduled for about two weeks later.