In part 1 of this article, we began looking at the Michigan DUI process – specifically the police part of that process – starting out from your first contact with a police officer, the traffic stop and arrest, all the way through your release from jail thereafter. Here, in part 2, we’ll begin looking at the beginning of the court process in DUI cases. The first legal step in the court setting is called an arraignment. In many DUI cases, this whole step (and, therefore, the need to show up in court for it) can be waived by your lawyer, although some courts, like Detroit, Rochester Hills and St. Clair Shores usually don’t allow that. Technically, an arraignment is a court proceeding held before a Judge or Magistrate where a person is formally advised of his or her constitutional and procedural rights, the specific charge or charges being brought against them, and the maximum legal penalties for each. A person is then asked to enter a plea. Although the subject of arraignments can get very deep, what matters most here is that if you do have to go to court to be arraigned, you should ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS plead “not guilty.” To be clear, this is a procedural move, and has nothing to do with whether or not you are actually guilty or not.
In the suburban courts that don’t allow it, the main reason an arraignment can’t be waived is because the court wants to quickly set bond conditions, meaning things you will be required to do, and others you cannot do, while your case is pending. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, so hold on before you start sweating. Once you’re released from jail, you’re out. If you posted any money, then that will almost always be the amount of the bond set by the court, so it’s not like you’re going to be asked for more. Despite that, however, we always tell anyone to take $500 with them if they must go to court for an arraignment, especially if they didn’t have to pay anything when they were first released from jail.
Bond conditions are rules you have to follow while your case is going on. They include not leaving the state without the court’s permission, not getting into any more legal trouble, and, in every DUI case, not consuming any alcohol or using any drugs. To make sure a person complies with the “no drinking” and “no drugs” conditions, all courts will order some kind of alcohol and/or drug testing. This can be either breath (you’ll hear the term, “PBT”) or urine testing, or a combination of them both. Depending on various factors, including where your DUI is pending, that testing can be more or less frequent. Even if your arraignment is waived and you don’t have to go to court for it, bond conditions, including and especially the “no alcohol or drugs” provision will be ordered by the Judge the first time you appear before him or her.