If you have been arrested for DUI you will likely have criminal charges filed against you. Following your arrest, the law enforcement officers may have released you with a citation with a court date on it. If this occurred it means that you were released on your own recognizance (OR). By signing the citation you promised to appear in court on that date. If you are not given OR release then bail has been set. This means that you must pay a set amount of money before you can be released from jail. The amount of bail depends on a number of factors, including whether you were arrested for felony DUI or misdemeanor DUI, whether you have any prior DUI convictions, whether you are currently on DUI probation, whether there was a traffic collision, how high your BAC was, and whether there were any additional criminal charges, such as drug possession or hit & run. If you are unable to pay the bail amount then you will remain in jail at least until the first court date. Your public defender or private criminal defense attorney can request the court to release you OR or to reduce bail. If the Judge does not grant you OR release and/or you are still unable to afford bail then you will remain in custody. Do not forget that you must contact the DMV Driver Safety Office to request an administrative hearing within 10 days of the DUI violation date or your driver's license will automatically be suspended 30 days from that date.
The first criminal court date in your DUI case is the arraignment. Some courts have special courtrooms solely for arraignments, such as Dept. 60 at the Metropolitan Courthouse and Dept. 103 at the Van Nuys Courthouse. All misdemeanor DUI arraignments are held in these departments. Other courts have arraignments, preliminary hearings (if a felony DUI), pre-trial hearings, and trials all in the same department. The Judge at the arraignment has discretion to not only grant OR or to lower your bail but, on the other hand, can also impose OR conditions or increase the bail. OR conditions mean that you may continue to remain out of custody (not in jail) without posting bail but you have to do certain things, or refrain from doing certain things, in order to do so. Common OR conditions for DUI cases include attending Alcoholics Anonymous classes, installing a SCRAM alcohol monitoring bracelet, not driving without a valid driver's license or insurance, and/or not driving within 12 hours of consuming any alcoholic beverages (may apply if SCRAM is not ordered). The Judge can also set bail or modify the bail amount that was originally set by law enforcement officers. The recommended bail amounts are listed in the Los Angeles County Bail Schedule for Infractions and Misdemeanors and the Felony Bail Schedule. Judges have wide discretion and do not have to follow the recommended bail amounts. Bail can be increased when the Judge is made aware of certain things that the law enforcement officers may not have known at the time that bail was originally set. For example, in misdemeanor DUI cases the recommended bail for a 3rd DUI offense (without a traffic collision, BAC greater than .15, or refusal) is $25,000. If your blood alcohol content is greater than .15 the bail schedule recommends that an additional $10,000 be added. If you took a blood test following your DUI arrest, law enforcement officers would not have been aware of the result and would likely have released you on $25,000 bail. However, at arraignment the blood test result is back and it is greater than a .15 percent. The Judge may choose to increase the bail to $35,000.
Many things can occur between the time of your DUI arrest and your DUI arraignment date, as well as in court at the DUI arraignment itself. It is best not to go to court alone and represent yourself. Contact a good DUI Lawyer to discuss your case. If you cannot afford an attorney, ask the Judge to appoint the Los Angeles County Public Defender to represent you. If you can afford to retain private counsel it is best to hire a DUI Lawyer that specializes in defending DUI cases. Berglund Law Office, P.C. focuses on representing individuals arrested on suspicion of DUI. CONTACT our office today for a free and confidential consultation.