Pre-Trial Motions in DUI Cases

Phoenix Lawyer Defending Persons Charged With Drunk Driving

Pretrial motions can impact the outcome of criminal cases. When the defense brings pre-trial motions in DUI cases, they are seeking to shape the evidence or arguments that will be presented to the jury and court. If you’re charged with drunk driving, you should discuss your case with seasoned Phoenix DUI attorney James E. Novak. As a former prosecutor, he examines each DUI charge to identify the weaknesses in the case and determine the strongest available defense strategy. Your legal options may include the filing of pre-trial motions if warranted.

Pre-Trial Motions in DUI Cases

A motion is a request to the court to make a ruling. Defense lawyers file different types of pretrial motions, such as motions in limine, motions to suppress, and discovery motions, depending on the particular circumstances. It might be appropriate to move for dismissal of the charges or to ask that the court prohibit use of a prior conviction. In some circumstances, the defense may file a motion to dismiss a DUI case based on lack of jurisdiction; jurisdiction refers to the court’s authority and control over a case’s subject matter.

Any motion, defense, or objection that is not timely made will be precluded. Exceptions may be granted at the discretion of the court if the defense exercised reasonable diligence.

Motion to Suppress

Motions to suppress are among the most crucial motions that may be brought prior to a drunk driving trial. The defense may bring a suppression motion to bar the prosecution from introducing evidence that the police obtained in violation of a defendant’s constitutional or procedural rights. The purpose is to invoke the court’s responsibility not to allow the government to use illegally obtained evidence against you at trial.

The police must abide by your Fourth Amendment rights when pulling you over for suspected drunk driving. Under the Fourth Amendment, you’re entitled to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The police must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing to pull you over and detain you. A reasonable suspicion is more than a mere hunch. If the police do not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over for a DUI, it may be appropriate to move to suppress all evidence obtained during the stop, including the results of a field sobriety or chemical test. In order to arrest you for a DUI, the officer must have probable cause you were driving under the influence. When an officer lacks probable cause to arrest, you can ask the court to suppress evidence obtained after your arrest. Similarly, if the prosecution’s evidence includes a confession obtained in violation of your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, it may be appropriate to move to suppress that statement.

Under Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 16.2, which governs the procedure for a pre-trial motion to suppress, a prosecutor has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the evidence the prosecutor will use at trial was lawfully obtained. However, the prosecutor’s burden of proof arises only after the defendant alleges specific circumstances and establishes a prima facie case that supports the suppression of the evidence.

When the court grants a pretrial motion to suppress evidence based on a constitutional issue, the prosecution may withdraw or dismiss the case because they lack sufficient evidence to pursue the charges.

Motion in Limine

Attorneys bring motions in limine at the beginning of trial to obtain evidentiary rulings. This important practice allows the defense to preclude the prosecution from presenting prejudicial, inadmissible or immaterial evidence to the jury. For instance, if the police lab used questionable procedures to test and store your blood, it might be appropriate to ask the court to exclude the test results. Stopping the prosecution from introducing unreliable and prejudicial evidence in advance is more effective than asking jurors to ignore inadmissible information.


After a pretrial motion is filed, the judge will hear arguments from the defense in support of granting the motion and the prosecution in favor of denying the motion. In most cases, the court rules on pretrial motions before trial, unless it finds good cause to defer the ruling.

Consult a Phoenix Lawyer about Your DUI Case

Pre-trial motions in DUI cases help protect the constitutional rights of the accused. You should not give up hope, even if you believe the prosecutor has a strong case. Consult with a lawyer who has experience bringing and winning these motions. James E. Novak is a seasoned criminal defense attorney who represents those charged with drunk driving in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Mesa, and throughout Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.

Client Reviews
I was facing criminal charges with three priors in my history. Mr Novak was very helpful and got me a lighter sentence than I probably deserved. He is a great attorney and I would highly recommend him. A. T.
James worked tirelessly behind the scenes with the prosecution, to decrease my son’s charges to a more reasonable penalty. I could not have asked for a better, more professional attorney. He treated my son with the utmost respect and walked him through every step of a very difficult situation. S. G.
Attorney Novak did an outstanding job defending my son. Due to his extensive professional background within the court system, he was successfully able to defend my son during a very difficult time for my family. I highly recommend Attorney James Novak for your legal needs. T. G.