The DUI trial process varies from court to court, the following is a typical DUI jury trial beginning with motions and ending with appeals.
Motions in Limine and "housekeeping" items: The first thing that typically takes place is a discussion, typically on the record, about the ground rules of the DUI trial. Basic parameters are set as to who will testify, and what they are allowed to testify to. Also decided is who is allowed to remain in the courtroom and who is excluded, and many other issues depending on the case.
More Motions: After the State rests its case, the defense may make a motion to dismiss if it believes that all of the evidence needed to secure a conviction not presented by the State.
Jury Selection: In jury trials, a jury is typically brought in towards the beginning. The process of jury selection, or voir dire as it's known, can last anywhere from an hour to several days, depending on the court. The jurors questioned by the Judge, the lawyers or both, and from these answers, the lawyers will assess which jurors they want to challenge.
Jury Instructions: The Judge must instruct the jury on how to decide the case. The written instructions are typically read into the record, and the jury will get copies of the instructions when they retire to the jury room to deliberate.
Deliberations: The jury is typically given whatever time they need to reach a decision.
Opening and Closing statements
Opening Statements: Each side will make an opening statement designed to give the jury a preview of things to come.
The State's Case: The state goes first in putting on its evidence. This is because the state has the burden of proof, as DUI is a criminal charge.
The Defense Case: If the Defense chooses to put on a case, the DUI attorney calls witnesses.
Closing Statements: Each side entitled to argue their case. The prosecutor goes first. Then the defense attorney has their turn. Then the prosecutor gets to "rebut" whatever the DUI defense lawyer said. The prosecutor gets the last word.
Completion of DUI Trial
The Verdict: When the jury returns a verdict, the judge will typically read it into the record. In some states, the jury foreperson reads it. If the defendant acquitted, the trial ends. If the defendant convicted, then the following steps may occur:
- Polling The Jury: Most states provide the right of either party to request that the jury polled to make sure that the verdict reflects the decision of each and every member of the jury. In some jurisdictions this done automatically. In others, it done only at the request of a party.
- More Motions: The defense may make a motion to set the verdict aside, or a motion for a new trial. The prosecutor may make a motion for the defendant taken to jail immediately.
- Sentencing: Sentencing occurs sometime after a verdict of guilty. It can be right away, but in some states and jurisdictions, there is a delay between conviction and sentencing.
- Appeal: If the defense or prosecutor appeals a case, it goes up to the next higher court level. The DUI appeals process can take months or even years in some areas.