DUI Court Procedure

DUI Court

If you’ve been arrested for DUI, you will be given a date to appear in court. If you were arrested in Sacramento County, you were likely given a date to appear at the courthouse in downtown Sacramento. Sacramento has two courtrooms that hear the majority of the misdemeanor DUI cases: Department 3 and Department 4. Yolo County cases are generally heard in Department 9. Placer County cases are usually heard in Department 33.


Your first court appearance is called an arraignment. If you hire my office, I will appear for you at the arraignment. In most circumstances you do not need to be there and may never have to set foot in the courtroom throughout the entire process. At the arraignment the judge will advise us of the pending charges. (If you appear on your own, without an attorney, the judge will ask if you intend to hire an attorney. If you indicate that you will hire an attorney, the court will continue the case to give you time to do so. )

Filing of Charges

More and more frequently, the District Attorney’s Office fails to file a “complaint” at the first court appearance because they are missing some key piece of evidence, typically the blood test results. (A complaint is a document that formally states that the DA is filing charges.) The DA’s delay in submitting a complaint does not mean that they won’t file charges. In misdemeanor cases the DA has a year to file a complaint. I have been retained by many people who appeared at their court date and were told that no charges were being filed at that time. They then went home thinking their case was done only to learn months or years later that charges had been filed before the deadline and that a warrant for their arrest had been issued. If you retain my office, I will ensure that this does not happen.

Pre-Hearing Conference

After charges have been filed, the case is usually set for a pre-hearing conference. At the pre-hearing conference, I will have an opportunity to negotiate your case. The ideal, of course, is to have your case dismissed. For all matters, I will fight to get you the very best deal. My goal is always to minimize damages and disruptions to your life and to protect your rights. I’m aware of all the consequences this event can have on your life, both generally and those unique to Sacramento, Yolo, and Placer counties. I will make sure that you are fully advised of all of them.


We may be able to resolve your case at the pre-hearing stage of the proceedings. However, if we cannot resolve your case at that time, the next step will be to take the case to trial. As your attorney, I will make sure that you are aware of all the consequences of the plea offer and all the potential consequences of taking the case to trial. We will go over the evidence in detail together so that you can make a complete, informed decision.

Importance of Hiring a Local Attorney

It is critical to have a local attorney experienced with Sacramento, Yolo, and Placer counties to monitor your case. I have handled hundreds of drunk driving cases in the Sacramento region and am familiar with the unique pitfalls associated with each particular county. In addition, it is very important to be represented by an experienced DUI attorney. DUI cases have significant consequences affecting your license, your freedom, and your wallet. Contact me at (916) 442-1200 for a free consultation of your case.