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If you have been arrested for DUI and have only had experience in the court system by way of a traffic ticket, you may not be aware that a DUI is not the same as a traffic ticket. Many people believe that a DUI is just about the same thing as a traffic citation and that the outcome will be similar to one of a traffic ticket. However, while the piece of paper you receive looks similar to that of a traffic ticket, DUI offenses are anything but a minor traffic offense.
Traffic Ticket vs. DUI
A traffic ticket is issued for such offenses such as using a cell phone while driving, disobeying a traffic control device, and speeding. These are minor offense and are not punishable by probation or inceration, but instead, you’re issued a fine. You will typically assess a point or two on your drivers’ license as well (rack up a few points and you could face suspension of your driving privileges, so never consider a traffic ticket to be that “minor.”
When you’ve been issued a DUI ticket, however, you need to retain the services of an experienced DUI attorney, because having an experienced attorney is going to allow you a better outcome of this situation. You could be convicted of a DUI and sentenced to jail, even for a first-time offense. This is one of the reasons why an attorney is necessary.
If you’re been charged with your second or third DUO, you may be facing felony charges and you could be sentenced to prison if you are convicted. So, suffice it to say a DUI charge is definitely more serious than a traffic infraction.
The Court Process
With a traffic ticket, you’re generally looking at one or two court dates. The first would be to enter your plea, and the second would be for trial if it were to go that far. Most traffic tickets are settled outside of court, however, with the defendant having to pay a fine.
For a DUI case, the situation is different. You will still make an appearance to enter your plea, but from there, your attorney is going to look at all of the different ways he can defend you. There will be a few pre-trial motions, and your attorney will look at all of the evidence, including probable cause. Probable cause is determining whether or not the police officer had cause to even pull you over to begin with. If it’s somehow determined that the police officer did not have probable cause to pull you over and investigate your crime, your charges could be thrown out altogether.
Unlike a traffic infraction, which is generally only heard by a commissioner or judge, your DUI case will go before a judge or jury. If your attorney cannot convince the judge on pre-trial motions, your case will most likely go through the trial phase.
If you have been charged with a DUI and you have questions about this process, it’s very important that you speak with an experienced DUI attorney at once. You will want an attorney who has many years of DUI trial experience and who understands the DUI law in its entirety. DUI can be a scary situation, and there are never any guarantees of certain outcomes, but you are guaranteed attention to detail and vigorous defending of your charge when you retain an experienced and knowledgeable DUI attorney.