What Happens First? Preparing For Your Loved One's Release

Posted on: 24 March 2020


When a loved one has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), it can be a confusing time. It might help if you know what happens right after the arrest and what needs to be done on a priority basis. Things are best divided up between incarceration, release, and after the release.


In most cases, drunk driving offenders are held at the city or county jail. You will likely be phoned from a correctional facility after the arrest by your loved one. Once you know where they are, you can begin to arrange for bail. In the meantime, your loved one will be coming before the judge for an arraignment.

Arraignment and Release

This is your loved one's first appearance before a judge. Most defendants don't have a criminal defense lawyer at this point and one is not needed at the arraignment unless no bail has been offered. In serious cases where a death occurred in connection with the DUI, you may have to arrange for a lawyer before bail is granted, if at all. If bail if offered, your loved one will be told the amount and apprised of the charges.


At the arraignment, your loved one may be asked to enter a preliminary plea. This means pleading not guilty, guilty, or no contest. Of the three, any criminal attorney would advise a defendant to plead not guilty. That plea may be later changed if a plea deal is accepted. No contest pleas have the same effect as a guilty plea and guilty pleas are to be avoided at this time.

After the Release: Plea Deals

Once your loved one is released on bail, case preparation can begin. Almost all arrests result in the offer of a plea bargain. These bargains may or may not be in the best interest of your loved one. A plea bargain offer should only be accepted (or turned down) after consulting with a defense lawyer. Your loved one needs to know how strong the state's case is and how weak their DUI evidence might be before making a decision.

Trial Preparation

No one will force your loved one to accept the plea deal. If they don't take the deal, that means they are entitled to take their case before a judge and jury. The preparation for trial period is known as discovery and involves a sharing of information about the DUI case. You might see the dashcam footage of the stop and field sobriety tests for the first time as a result of discovery, for example.

DUI cases are difficult for the state to prove and many of those arrested end up having their charges reduced or dropped. The help of a defense attorney is vital during the time between the arrest and the trial or plea deal, so encourage your loved one to take action and avoid the worst of the potential punishment. Contact a DUI lawyer near you for further questions you may have.