Drunk Driving:

Trial

After the arrest, booking, arraignment, preliminary hearing, and pre-trial motions, a DUI case is ready to move to trial. The trial is the final step in the court process. At a drunk driving trial, the prosecution makes arguments in order to get the jury to return a verdict of "guilty." The defense, on the other hand, seeks to make arguments aid in receiving a "not guilty" verdict from the jury. However, some states do not permit the defendant to have a jury in a drunk driving trial. There are some instances in a jury trial where no verdict is reached due to a hung or split jury. On these occasions another trial date will be set; although most often the defense will reach a plea bargain agreement with the prosecutions rather than going to trial again.

The drunk driving trial process begins with jury selection. Both sides will want to avoid selecting jurors with a bias toward their side. For example, the defense would not want a juror who has a family member that was injured or killed in a drunk driving accident.

At the beginning of the actual trial, both the prosecution and defense will give opening statements. The prosecution will discuss the evidence that will be presented and the fashion in which they will prove the defendant's guilt. After the prosecutions opening statement, the defense will give a statement of their intention to prove the defendant's innocence and refute the prosecution's claims and evidence against the defendant. During the trial, evidence will be presented and witnesses, such as the arresting officer, may be brought to the stand to testify. Each side has an opportunity to cross-examine the other's witness in hopes to disrepute any statements. At the end of the trial procedure both sides summarize their arguments for the jury in their closing arguments.

The jury is then instructed by the judge on the legal standards by which they are to review the case. The jury deliberates and then returns to give their verdict. They may also recommend a sentence. After a verdict of "not guilty," the defendant is released and his case is dismissed. Following a "guilty," verdict, the judge sentences the defendant with possible fines and jail time. The judge may or may not go along with the sentence recommended by the jury.

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