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Trial Process for DUI in Arizona


Arraignment will usually occur within 24 hours after an arrest.  At this time, the charge is formally brought against and read to the defendant.  The defendant must then enter a plea of “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest.”  It is usually recommended to always enter a plea of not guilty for a DUI charge.  Next, the Judge will likely determine whether or not to grant bail and how much it should be set at.  A judge looks at the severity of the charge and evaluates the likelihood that the person will either flee or show up to the next appointed hearing.  Bail is usually always granted in the state.  Even if bail is granted, however, a defendant’s lawyer’s may make a motion to have the defendant be released on their “own recognizance,” which means that the defendant will be able to leave without having to post any bail.

Preliminary Hearings:

A preliminary hearing occurs in Arizona for only those who have been charged with felony DUI offenses.  At a preliminary hearing, a judge will review the evidence of the case and determine if there was sufficient “probable cause” to warrant the case to go to trial.

Plea Bargaining:

Plea Bargaining is when the prosecution and the defense attempt to work out a where the defendant would plead guilty in order to receive a lesser charge and penalty.  Plea bargains are worked out between the prosecutor and the defendant and their attorney, but must ultimately be approved by the court.  In addition, the result of any plea bargain agreement in the state will become a matter of public record that will be able to be viewed by the general public.

Pre-Trial Motions:

Pre-Trial Motions, or evidentiary hearings, involve instances in which one side (usually the defense) brings a motion to have a certain piece or issue of evidence marked as inadmissible and the court will rule whether or not to have the evidence be heard or suppressed at the trial.

The Trial:

A DUI defendant in the state of Arizona has the right to a trial by jury.  The prosecution has the burden of proof in a criminal trial to convince the jury that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  A trial will usually proceed as such:

  • Jury Selection – a person is allowed to be tried by a jury of one’s “peers”
  • Opening Statements- made by both the prosecution and the defendant’s attorney
  • Presentation of the Prosecution’s Case against the Defendant- includes testimony from witnesses, which the defense is allowed to cross-examine
  • Presentation of the Defendant’s Case- includes testimony from witnesses, which the prosecution is allowed to cross-examine
  • Closing Arguments from both sides
  • Jury Deliberations
  • Jury Verdict



If convicted of a DUI, sentencing may occur immediately upon the rendering of a guilty verdict.  Sentencing for a DUI will vary based on the type of DUI one was convicted of, but may include:

  • Jail time
  • Prison time
  • Fines
  • Community restitution
  • Drug and alcohol screening and treatment program
  • Revocation or suspension of license
  • Probation
  • Ignition interlock device for motor vehicle


Admissible evidence for a DUI trail includes:

  • Statements from law enforcement officers regarding observational evidence
  • Reports of Field Sobriety Tests
  • Notice that person decided to refused to perform a Field Sobriety Test
  • Results of all breath, blood, and urine tests
  • Any eye witness accounts
  • Expert testimony
  • Any self-incriminating statements that defendant may have made to law enforcement officers
  • Police squad car videos
  • Booking room videos

Non-admissible Evidence includes:

  • The Field Sobriety Test results are not admissible because the officer did not instruct or perform the tests accurately
  • Breath tests results that are inadmissible because the operated did not have a valid permit, did not follow operational checklist, or did not duplicate tests
  • Breath test results that are inadmissible because the device used to conduct the test was not in proper condition
  • Blood or urine test result that are inadmissible because the analyst did not have a valid permit to analyze the results
  • Blood or urine test is inadmissible because the analyst who reviewed the specimen was found to have been unable to do so with accuracy
  • Blood test is inadmissible because the person drawing the blood was not qualified to do so

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