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DUI Legal Process in Indiana

After a motorist is arrested for DUI in Indiana, the DUI court process begins. The first step in the DUI court process is the arraignment.  The arraignment is the initial court appearance that an accused motorist makes in front of a judge.  The presiding judge formally reads the charges that have been filed against the accused intoxicated driver. After the reading of the charges, the judge will ask the accused to enter a plea. If the motorist pleads guilty, the judge will impose a sentence and the plea of guilty will be entered and placed on the record. If the motorist pleads not guilty then the case will be tried before a judge or jury.

The judge will also inform the motorist if he or she is eligible to participate in a pretrial diversion program. The diversion program is available to first-time offenders. In exchange for agreeing to a license suspension ranging from 30 days to 1 year and participating in an approved alcohol treatment program and other probationary conditions, all charges against participating offenders may be dropped and no DUI conviction will be placed on the driver’s record.

If the case proceeds to trial, the next step is discovery.  Here, both parties attempt to build their respective cases. Documents will be gathered and requested from the other side. Witnesses may also be deposed. Often during this discovery period, the judge will schedule a pretrial hearing. The parties use the pretrial hearing to update the judge on the status of the case. Scheduling issues or the non-responsiveness of the opposing party may be addressed during this conference. During the pretrial conference, the parties may also try to reach a plea agreement to submit to the judge for his or her approval. If the plea agreement is approved, the agreement is formally entered on the record. If there is no agreement, the case continues toward trial.

Prior to the actual trial, the court holds pretrial motion hearings. The pretrial motions are used by the parties to determine which type of evidence shall be admissible in the trial. Defendants will often try to suppress the results of chemical tests that were offered by the arresting officer.

In the event that the case actually makes it trial, the case may be tried before a judge or a jury. Regardless of whether a judge or jury decides the ultimate guilt or innocence of the motorist, the judge will sentence the motorist if a guilty verdict is rendered. If the verdict is not guilty, the case is dismissed as well as all charges. A defendant has the right to appeal a guilty verdict. A written request for appeal must be made in a timely manner or the right will be deemed to have been waived.

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