What Happens at a Preliminary Hearing for DUI in Pennsylvania

Being pulled over or charged with Driving Under the Influence is a tremendously overwhelming experience. No matter what the specific circumstances, the person being charged is suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar and frightening process. There are two steps to gaining a better sense of control: the first is to educate yourself as much as possible about what to expect, and the second is to arrange for competent and knowledgeable legal representation. The attorneys at Erik B. Jensen and Associates will be able to provide both of those elements. We will make sure that you understand what to expect, and use our experience to provide you with competent legal advocacy in the face of the proceedings. The first step will be to make sure you understand what happens at a preliminary hearing for DUI in Pennsylvania.

In the state of Pennsylvania, after a person has been charged with Driving Under the Influence, a preliminary hearing is held before a magisterial district judge. The goal of the preliminary hearing is to review the evidence that the prosecutor has in order to determine whether it warrants proceeding with the case. Generally speaking, this evidence would need to show that a crime was committed and that the person who has been charged is the one who committed the crime, and in the case of a DUI charge, the specifics would include evidence regarding blood alcohol concentrations and that you were in fact operating a vehicle on a public roadway. It is not a determination of guilt.

You are generally given the date of the preliminary hearing at the time of your arrest. The date is generally within 30 to 60 days from the time of your arrest.  process generally begins with the charges against you being read and you entering a plea as to whether you are guilty or not. The preliminary hearing is that first opportunity for an attorney to assess your eligibility to negotiate for Pennsylvania DUI plea options, so it is important that you have arranged for legal representation prior to this hearing.  It is during the preliminary hearing that the judge – if he finds probable cause –  will send your case to the County Court of Common Pleas for you to be arraigned. The arraignment is usually within two months of the date of the Preliminary Hearing.

It is not until the arraignment that your attorney can submit pretrial motions. These might include motions to suppress evidence or dismiss the case entirely, or to question specific evidence against you.

There are a number of ways that a skilled attorney can help you deal with a DUI charge in Pennsylvania. In some situations, the state offers the opportunity for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, and in other instances they may be able to negotiate a plea bargain. For information on the options available to you, contact the attorneys at Erik B. Jensen and Associates today. We are here to help.