The Pennsylvania DUI Court Process | SMT Legal

The Pennsylvania Dui Court Process


If you have been charged with a DUI, you are probably frightened, ashamed and unsure of how it could affect your future. In addition, if this is your first arrest for DUI, you probably have many questions regarding the court process that are adding to your unease.

Knowing what to expect during the court process can help ease at least one burden.

If you are convicted of a DUI, you face jail time, fines, license suspension and more.

An experienced and reputable DUI defense attorney is your best chance to protect your rights and your freedom from start to finish. DUI cases are possible to win in court.

The DUI Law Team at SMT Legal will be able to thoroughly interview and question witnesses, submit motions to suppress evidence in court and try to negotiate to have your DUI charges reduced or dismissed, as well as try to work out a plea deal with the prosecution.

The Pennsylvania Dui Court Process

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    This is your life. You have rights.

    It is possible to have your sentencing reduced through diversion programs and understand your options and programs available, like the ARD Program. Speak directly to an experienced DUI attorney if you have been charged with a DUI.

    An experienced Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer can help you determine your options and fight your charges so you can move forward with your life.

    If you would like more specific information regarding your DUI case, Pittsburgh DUI Attorney Christopher Thomas is available to provide you with a FREE legal consultation: 412-765-3345.


    Knowing what to expect through each aspect of your court case can be reassuring. Your DUI attorney will be instrumental in guiding you and preparing you for each stage of the process.

    Your case may progress through the entire process – or maybe halted early if you elect to participate in a diversion program or a plea deal is made. However your case turns out, being knowledgeable about all stages of a DUI case is helpful.


    The vast majority of DUI cases will not have an initial arraignment. Generally, an initial arraignment occurs in those cases where a person is arrested for DUI and remains in police custody.

    This could be because you are from out-of-state or you have other charges in addition to your DUI. If you are in police custody, you must be arraigned within 48-72 hours of your arrest.

    The Court will read the charges against you and you will be asked to enter a plea – either guilty or not guilty. If you do not have an initial arraignment, you will receive a summons in the mail telling you when you are required to appear in court.

    Failure to appear in court could cause you even more problems as the judge will likely issue a bench warrant for your arrest.


    The preliminary hearing is considered the most important step in the case. Here, it is the prosecution’s job to prove that there is probable cause to pursue the case.

    The prosecution must show that a DUI was committed and the defendant was the likely perpetrator. The arresting officer and others may testify. Having an experienced DUI lawyer present is invaluable at this stage.

    A knowledgeable and aggressive DUI lawyer can argue on your behalf and work to keep the prosecution from meeting its burden – or possibly have the charges reduced or dismissed.

    If the prosecution is successful in meeting its burden, your case will then be sent to the Court of Common Pleas for a formal arraignment.


    At your formal arraignment, the Court will read the charges against you and enter them into the record. At this time, you will also enter your plea. Additionally, at this time you are generally allowed access to case evidence such as video of your arrest or any police reports.

    The formal arraignment can be another crucial time in your case. If you are a first time DUI offender and have no additional charges pending, your attorney can attempt to gain your acceptance into one of several diversion programs such as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). If you are accepted into ARD and you complete the program successfully you can have your charges expunged and keep your criminal record clean.


    At this stage of the case, your attorney is preparing to move forward with a trial and handle any issues that need to resolve. Your attorney will make discovery requests. This can include police reports that have not yet been obtained and the outcome of sobriety tests such as the BAC level.

    The attorney will analyze the evidence against you and prepare motions to be presented in court to help your case. They can include motions to suppress evidence – including statements made during your arrest or physical evidence obtained at the scene. Or perhaps he/she will argue that the stop was unlawful and done without probable cause.

    At this stage your attorney can also try to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution. This may include a reduction in the charges or some other agreement that both sides are happy with and avoid a full trial. If no such agreement is reached, the next stage would be a trial.


    If at any of the previous stages your case was not resolved, it will move forward to the trial. Here, the prosecution will have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    A trial will generally include opening statements by both sides, the presentation of the prosecution’s case, cross-examination of witnesses by your attorney, presentation of your case and any defenses by your attorney, and closing arguments.


    You can appeal a DUI case, however, only under very specific circumstances. In order to appeal, your case must involve an issue of law – not of fact. In other words, the facts presented in your original trial will be accepted as true and the only way you can move forward with an appeal is if somewhere in the process your attorney, or the court, got the law wrong.

    Each circumstance is unique and that is why an experienced DUI attorney can be of great value throughout the process.

    At SMT Legal we understand the challenges you face, but we also will fight aggressively for your freedom. We will closely investigate all evidence, police reports and talk to any witnesses that may be helpful in fighting for your liberties.

    If the police did not follow proper procedures or have a valid reason to pull you over in the first place, it is possible to have your entire case dismissed and off your record.

    In addition to having a case dismissed, there are many different ways to plea a case and our attorneys will take into account every possible factor in order to have your sentencing reduced and your license reinstated as soon as possible.

    Pittsburgh DUI Attorneys That Can Make A Difference

    Our aggressive and compassionate attorneys are here to guide you through a difficult time.

    Call Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer Christopher Thomas for a free legal evaluation of your case.

    The Criminal Defense Attorney Thomas is here to answer your questions, listen to your situation, explain your rights and offer the best steps to defending your rights and getting your future on track.

    Tell Us Your Stories and Ask Us Your Questions

    Call 412-765-3345 for a free case evaluation. Our attorneys are available by phone, email or in-person.

    SMT Legal attorneys believe in aggressively representing our clients while maintaining the personal compassion needed when counseling clients through difficult situations and navigating a complex legal system. Contact us today.

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