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Trials in DUI Cases

Lawyer Representing Phoenix Residents in Drunk Driving Proceedings

Some people do not realize that a DUI is a criminal charge rather than administrative matter. Often it's possible to get a plea deal for a DUI, particularly if it's a first offense. However, some cases may be taken to trial. If you are concerned about a DUI case that you believe could go to trial, it is important to hire seasoned legal counsel. James Novak is an experienced Phoenix DUI attorney who uses insights gathered as a former prosecutor to develop strong possible defenses for his clients.

Trials in DUI Cases

You have the right to a jury trial for a DUI, even a misdemeanor DUI, under A.R.S. section 28-1381(F), which provides that at the arraignment, the court is supposed to let you know that you can request a trial by jury, and that if you make the request it shall be granted. A trial by a jury of your peers is a fundamental right of due process, just as having the help of an attorney of your choice is a fundamental right.

Usually your attorney will file a formal Demand for Jury Trial with the court clerk. However, it is possible in many cases to arrange a plea deal and avoid going to trial, especially for a misdemeanor offense.

Time Limits

There is a time line that is followed for trials under the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. Generally, defendants must be released from custody 180 days from the date of arraignment. When necessary, you may be able to obtain an extension through a written motion. In many cases both sides agree to the extension, though this is not always the case. There are various reasons why a commencement extension can be allowed for trials in DUI cases, such as to hold a competency hearing, because of the defendant's incompetency or inability to be arrested, delays caused by extension of time for disclosure, delays caused by trial calendar congestion involving extraordinary situations, or delays resulting from a continuance.

Asking for Extensions

Where the prosecutor or defense attorney do not agree about an extension, the judge has the discretion to make a decision about whether to grant the extension based on Arizona law and the reason for the extension. It might be appropriate to ask for an extension in your case, for example, if we needed to get an expert opinion relevant to your defense or if we needed more time to locate a witness able to testify in your defense. It may also be appropriate to ask for an extension to try to work out a favorable settlement in your case.

In a trial for drunk driving under sections 28-1381 or 28-1383 (except for drunk driving a commercial vehicle) your alcohol concentration within two hours of when you were driving or in actual physical control as shown by an analysis of your blood, breath, or another bodily substance triggers certain presumptions. It is presumed that if there was .05% or less alcohol concentration in your blood, breath, or bodily substance, you weren't under the influence of alcohol. If there was between .05 -.08% blood alcohol level, this won't give rise to a presumption that you were or weren't under the influence, but the blood alcohol level can be considered along with other competent evidence in deciding your innocence or guilt. If you have at least .08% or greater blood alcohol concentration it can be presumed that you were under the influence of alcohol.

Trials in DUI cases can be risky, even though the prosecutor has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If you're convicted, there is a mandatory sentence of at least 10 consecutive days in jail during which you wouldn't be eligible for suspension or probation of the sentence until it's served. However, at the time of sentencing a judge can suspend all but a day of the sentence if you complete a court ordered alcohol or other drug treatment program. Penalties are different, however, if it is not a first offense conviction or if it is a more serious DUI offense.

Consult a Skilled DUI Attorney in Phoenix

If you have been charged with a DUI, there are a number of criteria your lawyer would consider to determine whether it might be appropriate to take your case to trial rather than negotiate a strong plea deal. James E. Novak is a former prosecutor who helps Phoenix area drivers aggressively defend against DUI charges. He also works with clients in areas including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.

Client Reviews
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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.
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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.
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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.