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OWI preliminary hearing: What to expect

There could come a point when you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and brought before a judge.

While an OWI/DUI preliminary hearing can be scary in many ways, it's important to realize one thing: you have legal rights and you need to do what you can to protect them.

DUI preliminary hearing is typically held as soon as possible after arraignment. It sounds complicated, but knowing what to expect will clear the air and help you understand the process. Following is what you can expect at the preliminary hearing:

  • The judge will listen to arguments from your attorney and the prosecutor.
  • The prosecutor has the right to introduce physical evidence in an attempt to convince the judge that your case should move forward.
  • Your attorney has the opportunity to cross examine any witnesses and question any evidence, all with the idea of convincing the judge to throw out the case.

Is there always a preliminary hearing?

While some OWI charges lead to a preliminary hearing, this is not always the case. Here's why: defendants have the right to plead guilty, which means that the arraignment will likely be the first and only time the defendant appears in court.

However, many people plead guilty before exercising all of their options for a strong defense.

What you need to know

With so many choices to make after a DUI arrest, you need to know your legal rights and the steps that you should and shouldn't be taking.

For example, you can plead guilty or not guilty. There are benefits of both strategies, and you need to know what will happen next with each option.

You also need to have a clear understanding of the potential punishment. This is based on many factors, including the number of OWI offenses on your record and if you broke any other laws.

Also, keep in mind that police officers are human, and they make mistakes. If an error or an act of misconduct led to a charge against you, then it may be possible to have the charge reduced or dismissed. In many cases, mistakes on the part of police officers amount to violations of defendants' rights. Talk to your lawyer about your options for mounting a strong defense.

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