When a person is taken into custody for DUI in Kentucky or most other states, that individual has the right to plead not guilty to the charge. If this happens, the next step in the legal process is a preliminary hearing. At this point, a judge will determine if there is enough evidence for a defendant to stand trial. The length of the hearing will depend on the amount of evidence that needs to be reviewed.
Typically, the defendant's attorney will argue on his or her behalf at a preliminary hearing. A prosecutor may choose to call witnesses to testify or produce physical evidence to establish their assertion that an individual drove while under the influence. The defense will then have an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses or otherwise cast doubt on any of the evidence presented by the prosecution.
Ideally, challenging witness testimony or other evidence will lead to the judge dismissing the charge before the case goes to trial. It is important to note that there may not be a preliminary hearing in a case, such as if the charge is a misdemeanor or if a plea deal is reached prior to this point. In some cases, the decision to go to trial is determined by a grand jury as opposed to a judge.
If an individual is convicted of drunk driving, he or she may face a license suspension, jail time or other penalties. An attorney may cast doubt on evidence presented in a case in an effort to obtain an acquittal or a plea deal. In some cases, evidence may be suppressed before a trial, and this might be enough to have a charge dismissed. If a charge is dismissed, it may be expunged or sealed by a judge.