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What Happens When You Get a DUI in Idaho?

Getting a DUI in Idaho means that you must complete the Idaho Criminal Case Process and defend yourself from allegations leveled against you by a member of law enforcement or the community. Most DUI's start with an arrest, then an arraignment, a pretrial conference, and may end up in a trial.


Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or other alcohol related cases are serious charges. You will need an Idaho Criminal Defense Lawyer who specializes in alcohol related crimes. Alcohol related crimes are especially damaging to your reputation, ability to find work, and family relationships. According to the Fourth Judicial District Court, the criminal case process starts when "an individual is accused of conduct that has potentially damaged society." Most DUI cases are prosecuted as a misdemeanor but may have additional circumstances that could rise to the level of a felony. While misdemeanors may bring fines and imprisonment in the county jail, a felony conviction means you could be incarcerated in the state penitentiary, pay larger fines, parole and a devastating entry onto your criminal record.

The Misdemeanor Criminal Case Process

  1. Most DUI cases begin with an arrest.
    Shortly after your arrest, you should find skillful and aggressive representation prior to arraignment.
  2. Arraignment
    If you are charged with a misdemeanor, the First Appearance and Arraignment are combined. You will be given an opportunity to obtain private legal representation or a public defender and you may enter a plea.
  3. Pre-Trial Conference
    If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you may receive a pretrial conference where the prosecution and defense will discuss the merits of your case and the likelihood of continuing to trial. This is where your past conduct, prior convictions and other circumstances may be used to dissuade aggressive prosecution.
  4. Plea Bargaining
    Your attorney may engage in plea bargaining in a misdemeanor case and will find opportunities to negotiate on your behalf. Many misdemeanor cases end in plea bargaining.
  5. Trial
    Misdemeanor cases that fail plea bargaining will proceed to trial at the magistrate court.

The Felony Criminal Case Process

  1. Again, most DUI cases begin with an arrest.
    In the case of a Felony DUI charge, you would have already obtained two prior DUI convictions or another excessive prior conviction.
  2. First Appearance
    You will be brought before a magistrate judge to ensure that your Miranda Rights are processed and that you have selected legal counsel. You will NOT enter a plea at this time.
  3. Preliminary Hearing
    On advice from counsel, you must determine to if you want a preliminary hearing. This "mock trial" requires the prosecutor to present evidence that warrants probable cause. The magistrate judge may choose to dismiss or reduce the charges. This is a complicated process and requires and Idaho Criminal Defense Attorney who is knowledgeable and prepared to evaluate and possibly exclude evidence and witnesses. You will not argue your case at this time. Supposing that any felony charges remain, you will be bound over to district court for arraignment.
  4. Arraignment
    You will again be advised of your rights. At this time, you will either enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Your bond will be set.
  5. Trial
    This is your opportunity to refute the prosecutions case and present your case. If found guilty or if you pleaded guilty during arraignment you will be remain in jail until sentencing.
  6. Pre-Sentence Investigation
    The court will most likely order a pre-sentence investigation to ascertain your background, social and medical histories and other private issues that may influence your sentence.
  7. Sentencing
    The Judge will pronounce the terms of the sentence.

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