Chances are, if you have been arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Georgia, you were issued Uniform Traffic Citations (UTCs) after the actual arrest. The UTC, or ticket, is simply the officer’s charging document that informs you of the charges against you, and contains other case-related information. On this citation, your first court date, known as the arraignment date, is usually on the bottom third of the ticket. This date is the first time you are ordered to appear in the criminal court with jurisdiction to answer up for your charges. Remember, this court date has nothing to do with your license suspension hearing, which requires that you proactively take steps to guarantee your right to a hearing before your license is suspended. This court date simply deals with your criminal case; one does not necessarily impact the other.
It is important to get your arrest information and citations into an attorney’s hands as soon as possible. At your first arraignment date, the prosecutor and court will expect you to have already retained an attorney and be ready to enter your plea in your case. There are only two main pleas in a standard DUI case in Georgia- Guilty and Not Guilty. Nolo contendre, or “no contest” pleas, are not commonly accepted for DUI charges and are treated as guilty pleas for license suspension and punishment purposes. Pleading Not Guilty does not bind you to a trial no matter what. I always plea clients Not Guilty at or before this first arraignment date in order to buy time to investigate the case thoroughly, and gather all relevant evidence before formulating our best defense strategy.
If you have been arrested for DUI and are approaching an arraignment date, contact me directly to discuss your options. There is a brief 5 page questionnaire that I urge clients to complete in order to allow me to better assess your case before we speak, however, I’m willing to give an initial consultation with only a phone call. Remember, there is important evidence that must be gathered prior to these court dates, and once the date is near, judges and prosecutors do not like delaying their cases. Call me today and we will get started on your defense strategy.