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What Happens in Traffic Court

If you've been charged with a criminal traffic offense in DC, most likely you were taken to a police station and given a citation to return to court. It can be a good idea to speak with and retain a lawyer before your first court appearance. If you do not have a lawyer when you come to court on your assigned date, you will be screened to determine if your income makes you eligible for an appointed attorney. You will then be arraigned, or told what the charges are against you. Your attorney will be given a discovery packet with the police report and sometimes even an early plea offer from the government.

If you are charged with Driving under the Influence (DUI), you will be required to drug test and assessed for substance abuse treatment. You will likely also be ordered not to drive after consuming drugs or alcohol. Your case will be set for a status hearing a few weeks, or in 90 days if your case involved a urine toxicology screen. By the status hearing, your attorney should have received the body worn camera videos from your traffic stop and discussed with you whether accepting a plea offer or setting a trial date is the best option.

Separately, the DMV will schedule a hearing to determine whether your license should be suspended. It is very important to attend this hearing so the likelihood of suspension is lowered.

An experienced attorney will be able to help you through this process. They will evaluate the evidence against you, discuss possible defenses, and know how each individual judge handles your type of case. Many cases, even DUIs, are winnable with the right attorney who understands how to use the facts and circumstances to your advantage.

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