Length of a DC DUI Trial

The length of a DC DUI trial varies based upon the specific facts of the case. A decisive DUI attorney can help you prepare for your case should you end up in front of a jury. A strong legal defense could help give you peace of mind following your DUI charge. 

Classifying a DUI Case

On a first offense DUI case where the maximum penalty is 180 days in jail, a defendant does not have the right to have a jury trial so it will be in front of a judge. That greatly reduces the amount of time necessary for the trial because they don’t have to pick a jury. A bench trial is any scenario where the length of a DC DUI trial is one to two days long and involves a judge.

It is possible it could take much less than a day and it is possible to take longer than two days depending on the specific facts of the case and the issues about the case that might come up during trial but that is the typical length of a bench trial. It would be one to two days.

With regard to a DUI trial where a jury is involved, this would be a second defense DUI, third offense DUI, et cetera where someone has the right to a jury as a defendant and picking a jury takes time.

What is Voi Dire?

If the case can proceed to trial, the parties will go through what is called voir dire where the judge asks the jurors certain questions designed to determine whether the juror can be a fair and impartial juror for the length of this trial, and that process can take several hours. After these several hours even after the jury or the potential jury has arrived at the courtroom, then it will take several hours to go through all of the voir dire, asking the questions and then getting answers.

Defining the Role of Various Parties in a DUI Case

During the length of a DC DUI trial, the parties have the right to do preemptory strikes. This means they get to pick a certain number of potential jurors that they do not want for the jury. Each side, meaning the prosecution and the defense, has the right to do so, and once all of that is done, then a jury is seated or the jury is then paneled as they say, and the judge will swear the jury in, give them their preliminary instructions and then the case begins.

All of that can take some time such that it is not unusual to have no evidence presented on the first day of a jury trial because of the length of time it takes to get through everything, with all the instructions and the picking of the jury. Once everything is ready, each party can begin with their opening statements.

In a jury trial, at most, they might get one or two witnesses on the stand by the end of the day. Depending on the number of witnesses that are going to be presented, then the case will continue on for two, three, four more days, depending upon the specific facts of the case. A jury trial case will likely take longer than if the same trial was in front of just a judge.