A DUI in California involves several steps. Knowing what they are can help prepare you for one or clarify possible problems in the process you just went through.

That said, our prescreened California DUI lawyers have handled several cases involving more or less the same process.

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What Happens In A California DUI Case?

The following steps are involved in a typical DUI case in California:


If a police officer believes you are impaired, they will pull you over and ask you to submit a series of field sobriety tests. Based on their observations, they may choose to release you or arrest you for a DUI charge.

You will be brought to a nearby police station, jail, or hospital if you are arrested so that you can submit to a chemical breath test to assess your level of drunkenness.

If you think the arrest process wasn't fair or done correctly, consult a California DUI attorney before making your next move.


If the test reveals that you had a blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than the permitted limit while driving, the police will arrest you, report the suspected crime, and give it to the district attorney for evaluation.

The officer will advise you that your license will be suspended for 30 days, seize your original license, and issue you with a temporary one that is good for the duration of the suspension.

Especially for first offenses, most of those arrested are freed a few hours later. If bail is required, it will be set on the condition that you show up for all subsequent court appearances.

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DMV Proceeding

You must arrange an administrative hearing within ten days of your arrest with the DMV. This is your opportunity to contest the automatic suspension of your license before your first court appearance.

To decide whether to suspend your license, the DMV will look at the officer's report and the results of your BAC test. If your license is suspended, the length of the suspension period will be determined by your prior criminal history for DUI offenses and whether you refused or failed to submit to a breathalyzer test.

In some cases, DUIs can be counted as felonies, especially if someone else got injured or died due to the accident.


The state criminal court system will still handle your case if you prevail at the DMV hearing. Your first court appearance will be at the arraignment, which is the initial phase of this procedure. You can enter a plea to the accusations brought against you of guilty, not guilty, or no contest at the arraignment.

If you submit a guilty plea, the sentencing phase begins. If you file a not guilty plea, your case moves into the pretrial stage.


Your Orange County DUI lawyer will look into the specifics of your case during the pretrial phase to decide how to continue. They might ask the prosecutors to drop or decrease your charges if they find strong evidence in your favor. Typically, this entails pleading guilty or filing motions before trial:

A probable cause motion to challenge the legality of the traffic stop and/or arrest, a motion to suppress evidence that was obtained unlawfully, or a motion to learn more about the background of the arresting officer to discredit their report are all examples of pretrial motions.

Plea bargaining is the process of haggling with the prosecutors to settle the case without a trial, for example, by lowering the charges.

Although many lawsuits are settled at this stage, the matter goes to trial if your attorney cannot get a satisfactory resolution.


You appear before a judge or jury at trial, during which the prosecution presents evidence against you, and your counsel provides proof in your favor. The judge or jury must find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to find you guilty. Your case proceeds to sentence if you are found guilty or were found guilty as a result of a plea agreement. Your penalty is then decided upon.

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Hire A Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Near You

Do you need a Los Angeles criminal lawyer1000Attorneys can refer you to a prescreened California lawyer that can best handle your unique claim.

Contact us through our 24/7 live chat (or complete our case details submission form) for a free initial consultation.