Why You Need an Attorney at Arraignment


When a motorist is arrested for Driving While Intoxicated, it is imperative that they or their loved one obtain an experienced DWI lawyer to represent them at the motorist arraignment in Court.  While some courts will provide a free attorney for the limited purpose of standing in for the motorist arraignment, this is not adequate to protect the motorist’s rights at the arraignment.  At the arraignment, after a plea of not guilty is entered, the Court will be called upon to decide several important issues, which must be addressed by an experienced DWI counsel at the arraignment.

First - The Court will determine if the motorist's drivers license will be suspended at the arraignment.

If the motorist fails the breath test the motorist license will be suspended for 30 days. Before the Court suspends the motorist license, it will have to review the accusatory instruments to make sure that such a suspension is warranted.   It is at this time, that the Motorist DWI Lawyer will be able review the paperwork to make sure that is meets the legal requirements of the Prompt Suspension Statute and argue to the Court that the paperwork is deficient and that the motorist license should not be suspended. The accusatory instrument charging the motorist with DWI that the Court reviews must meet the legal requirements that the Court of Appeals set down in the case of Pringle v. Wolf. An experienced DWI lawyer can find the deficiencies in the arrest paperwork that are often overlooked by the Court and other less experienced DWI attorneys, thereby saving the motorist’s license from a suspension. 

If the motorist is charged with a driving under the influence of drugs, a violation of 1192.4,  or driving recklessly, the Court frequently will Suspended the motorist’s license under Section 510.3 pending prosecution of the case. That means the motorist will not be able to drive during the entire time the case is pending, and cannot qualify for a conditional driver’s license.

Second - The Court will determine various issues pertaining to the motorist custody status at the arraignment.

The Court can release the motorist in his own recognizance, that is, without having to posting bail.

The Court can conditionally release the motorist to the Probation Department, which will monitor the motorist while the case is pending in Court.  The motorist must abide by the dictates of the Probation Department which will included reporting to a probation officer after each court date,  enrolling in an  alcohol program, which will include random testing for the use of alcohol and drugs, as well as other conditions which will not only restrict the motorists freedom, but can cost a substantial amount of money.  If the motorist does not comply with Probation rules, the Court will be notified and more than likely, the motorist’s custody status will be changed. That is, they will be put in jail until bail is posted.

The Court at arraignment can also set bail, whereby the motorist will be required to put up cash or post a bail bond in lieu of being incarcerated during the pendency of the case.    The amount of the Bail is set at the arraignment is determined by a host of factors;  including but not limited to  the motorist’s previous arrest history, as well as the motorist’s contacts with the community. The court will also examine  the circumstance surrounding the charges currently pending against the motorist. For example whether or not an accident occurred, was anyone injured in an accident,  or whether not the motorist was driving at an excessive speed.  In Nassau County the Prosecutors ask the Judge to set the minimum of $2,500 cash bail on first time offenders. The disposition of the Individual Judge conducting the arraignment is also an important factor, so it is imperative that the Motorist obtain an experience DWI lawyer who knows the in and outs of Court Procedures.

Third – The Court in those cases where the motorist has had their license suspended for failing a breath test, will determine if the motorist will be provided with a hardship hearing, whereby the motorist can present evidence to the Court in an attempt to get a limited driving privilege  before they can qualify for a pre-convictional conditional license.

Fourth – The Court, in addition to the aforementioned, can order the defendant to have an alcohol evaluation.

Given the importance of the arraignment, a motorist charged with a DWI, should have an experienced DWI lawyer at their arraignment.