Upon initial contact with the individual, the police officer will make certain observations about the driver including whether or not the person has bloodshot watery eyes and the driver’s response time and reactions. If an individual’s response times are slow or inappropriate or otherwise not normal, the officer will take note that the individual may be impaired.
If the police officer believes that an individual may be impaired, the officer will ask the person to undergo field sobriety tests. Those tests are standardized and are familiar to most people. There is the walk and turn test, the finger to nose test, the finger counting test, and the HGN or Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, among others. When an officer shines a light into a person’s eyes for the HGN test, the officer is watching for a reaction time in the pupils; this reaction time is effected by alcohol consumption.
If after observations and the field sobriety tests, the officer believes the driver is impaired to the slightest degree, the police officer will make an arrest. Once arrested, the police officer will ask the individual to take either a breathalyzer or a blood test, which may occur at a mobile field check point or at the station house. If the suspect fails the test, the suspect will be transported and booked into jail and the appropriate charges filed based upon the individual’s BAC.
An individual can be arrested for a blood alcohol content below 0.08%, if the person appears impaired to the slightest degree. This is called the DUI impaired charge. The police officer may make additional charges such as driving with blood alcohol content of 0.08% or above (DUI per se). A separate charge depending upon an individual’s blood alcohol content can also be made for driving while an individual’s blood content is 0.15% or above (extreme DUI). Depending on the circumstances, an individual may be taken to jail once the testing is concluded; the police may allow that person to call a family member to come to the station to pick them up.
The person is given an initial court appearance. The court will be either at a justice or city court if the matter has been charged as a misdemeanor offense. If the matter has been charged as a felony aggravated DUI, the driver will be hailed into superior court.
What Happens To A DUI Defendant After They Are Released?
If a police officer is recommending misdemeanor charges, the individual will be given a citation and their initial court appearance will be indicated on that citation. If the officer physically takes an individual’s driver’s license, the driver will be able to drive for an initial fifteen day period using a temporary driver’s license which the police officer will provide. If the matter has been cited as a felony matter, the individual will more likely remain in jail until a judge sets certain release conditions.
The court may require the individual go to pretrial services, which resembles probation to a large degree. There will be certain restrictions with regard to not drinking any alcohol, not taking any medications without a prescription, and limitations on illicit drug usage. The police officers will let arrestees know their misdemeanor court dates; in felony cases, the judge who they see will advise them of their release conditions and obligations in terms of maintaining communication with pretrial services.
If there is any bail or bond set, the judge will do that at that initial appearance. From there, the judge at the superior court level will let individuals know when their next hearing date is. The individual charged will have to sign and acknowledge receipt of the date of the first court appearance.
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