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Being arrested for driving under the influence in Virginia often marks an individual’s initial encounter with the criminal justice system. Many individuals shape their perceptions of the court system based on what they witness in courtroom dramas and movies. However, the reality of a criminal case differs significantly from what is portrayed on television. Proceedings progress rapidly, and individuals accused of a crime are advised to seek assistance from a seasoned criminal defense attorney to navigate the process effectively.

A Virginia criminal defense lawyer will represent you in court, outline your legal options, conduct an investigation into your case, and vigorously advocate to prevent a criminal conviction from staining your record. After familiarizing yourself with the information presented on this page regarding the court process subsequent to a DUI arrest in Virginia, feel free to reach out to a DUI lawyer with any inquiries concerning your case.

what happens after you get arrested for a dui

Chemical Testing and Booking Procedure

Upon being taken into custody by the police, it is unlikely that anything you say will alter the officer’s decision. Subsequently, you will be transported to the police department or sheriff’s office to undergo the arrest and booking process. Typically, this entails undergoing a chemical test, commonly a breath test, for alcohol-related DUI cases. The results of this chemical breath test can be utilized as evidence against the individual in a DUI case.

Following the chemical test, you will be required to appear before a magistrate judge. The arresting officer will furnish details regarding the traffic stop and subsequent arrest. Based on this information, the magistrate may opt to release you on your own recognizance or detain you in jail.

In the event that the court does not grant your release, or if you choose to request a bond hearing, a hearing will be scheduled to determine the required amount for your release. In most cases involving first-time DUI arrests, suspects are not deemed significant flight risks or threats to public safety.

Bond arrangements may vary, encompassing unsecured bonds (requiring no upfront money or collateral) or secured bonds. If you or your family can afford it, posting a cash bond should secure your release. Alternatively, if funds are not readily available, your family may need to enlist the services of a bail bonds company, typically necessitating a payment equivalent to 10% of the bond amount.

When to Reach Out to a DUI Attorney

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, it’s crucial to reach out to a DUI lawyer promptly. It’s advisable to contact a lawyer even while you’re going through the booking process into jail. Your family should also consider contacting an attorney to expedite your release. The sooner you engage a lawyer, the more time they’ll have to look into your case and prepare your defense.

DUI Court Appearance and Charges

An arraignment involves formally presenting the charges against a defendant. If you have legal representation, attending the arraignment might not be necessary, especially in a DUI case.

However, if you haven’t hired a lawyer, you’ll need to attend the arraignment. During this session, the court will inform you about the DUI charges, your right to legal counsel, and the trial date.

The court might also inform you about your right to a lawyer if you’re unable to afford one. However, this doesn’t automatically guarantee you legal representation. You may need to demonstrate to the court that you lack the financial means to hire a lawyer, which could involve proving your income level or insufficient financial resources.

Negotiating a Plea Agreement

Following the arraignment, the following step in your court proceedings typically involves discussions with the prosecutor. Depending on the strength of your case, consider accepting a plea bargain. This could entail the prosecutor dropping certain charges, reducing charges, or seeking a more lenient sentence if you agree to plead guilty.

At times, the prosecutor may attempt to levy multiple criminal charges to use as leverage in negotiations. Having an experienced Virginia DUI defense lawyer on your side can greatly enhance your negotiation position. If the prosecutor’s case is robust, your attorney may employ various DUI defenses to undermine it. Contrarily, if your case is strong, negotiations may be unnecessary, and your lawyer can advise the prosecutor to dismiss the charges or proceed to trial.

Bringing Your DUI Case to Court

Many criminal cases are resolved outside of trial proceedings. The process of reaching a trial can be lengthy, and the trial itself may consume a significant amount of time. Nevertheless, opting for either a jury trial or a bench trial might be the sole means of challenging criminal accusations.

In felony DUI cases, prior to commencing a trial, your attorney may file pretrial motions. These pertain to legal matters that the judge will address before the case proceeds to a jury. This frequently involves a motion to suppress evidence. If law enforcement violated your rights during the traffic stop or arrest, any evidence obtained unlawfully should be inadmissible in court. A motion to suppress evidence aims to exclude such evidence from consideration.

In jury trials, subsequent to pretrial motions, the court will select jurors, aiming to eliminate those who cannot maintain impartiality. The case will then be presented to the jury, with both the prosecutor and defense attorney articulating their respective positions. This entails introducing evidence, presenting witness testimonies, and potentially calling upon expert witnesses. Each side will also have the opportunity to rebut the other’s arguments.

Upon delivering final arguments, the jury will deliberate to determine your guilt or innocence regarding each charge. If the jury returns a verdict of not guilty, this may conclude the court proceedings. However, if you are found guilty, you may have the option to lodge an appeal.

Virginia DUI Defense Lawyer

If you have inquiries regarding the court proceedings following a DUI arrest in Virginia, consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney in Leesburg regarding your case. Reach out today for a consultation at (703) 777-6161.


Marquis Law Group combines our deep knowledge of the law with a passion for helping our neighbors.

Need Guidance?

While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call 703-777-6161 or complete our intake form.


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