Facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge can be stressful. A DUI charge can result in expensive fines, jail time and a license suspension upon conviction. No one would like to face those punishments, which is why some people charged with DUI skip their court hearing thinking they can avoid conviction by doing so. This is not true, and you should not skip your hearing if you don’t want to face further penalties.
The importance of the arraignment
After your arrest, you must have gotten a notice for a court hearing, also known as the arraignment. The arraignment is where you will listen to your charges and learn about the possible penalties you would face if the court convicts you in the trial. You can decide to plead guilty or not guilty in this hearing. If you plead guilty, the process ends there. If you don’t, your case will go to trial.
Consequences of missing the arraignment
Failure to appear at the arraignment has its consequences. According to the law, the court can issue a bench warrant for your arrest if you don’t appear in court for your hearing. If you were charged for DUI for the first, second or third time, you have a charge for a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are not as serious as other crimes, so a bench warrant wouldn’t necessarily cause the police to look for you. However, this warrant would allow an officer to arrest you if you ever interact with one.
The story is different if this is your fourth charge of DUI, as a fourth DUI offense constitutes a class 4 felony and is a more serious charge. In this case, the authorities could look for you and arrest you at your home, place of business or college if you don’t appear in court. The same applies if you injured a person for driving under the influence.
Additionally, a bench warrant would raise the amount of bail you would have to pay if you got arrested. Also, since this warrant is a public record, employers and landlords would see that the authorities are looking for you if you apply for a job or housing in the future. Failure to go to court also causes the suspension of the driving privileges. However, you may have already faced a license suspension if, after the arrest, your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit or if you refused to take a medical test.
You must attend your DUI hearing if you don’t want to make things worse with your DUI case. If you can’t go, you can reschedule or ask a lawyer to appear on your behalf by filing a waiver of appearance. Not doing anything would have its consequences, and you wouldn’t want to have more problems on your list.