Due to lack of money, or thinking that a DUI arrest is a minor criminal case, thousands of people search the internet for information on how to go to court without a lawyer. They type in queries such as, “Can I represent myself in court?” and follow whatever information they are reading, which is almost ALWAYS about the DUI laws in another state and not in West Virginia.
Thus, most self-represented defendants usually miss the deadline for appealing the administrative license suspension, as set forth in the WV code.
By the time these do-it-yourself non-attorneys figure out that they have a fool for their lawyer, they may have squandered their ONE CHANCE of keeping a DUI arrest off their criminal record. Even if you know how to defend yourself in court for a speeding ticket, a DUI WV is FAR more serious than speeding.
Any non-lawyer trying to unravel WV implied consent law, and DUI deferral and how a DUI refusal can leave you with NO DRIVING PRIVILEGE, is going to learn the hard way that WV DUI laws are a trap for the unwary.
The Clock is Ticking ….and Your WV Driver’s License Is at Stake
A DUI arrest in West Virginia starts the clock for the CRIMINAL court case against you. In about 14 to 21 days after your West Virginia DUI, you will receive in the mail your notice of the initial criminal court hearing date, and learn which Magistrate in that particular West Virginia County has been assigned to your DUI WV.
Common Trap for the Self-Represented Person: If the address on your driver’s license at the time of your WV DUI arrest was NOT up to date, this notice can be missed. It is not sent by registered mail.
The West Virginia DMV will not treat a missed deadline by an unrepresented person any differently than they would a represented person, so if you miss a deadline while acting as your own attorney, you suffer the consequences.
On a long checklist of pitfalls like this one, a skilled WV DUI lawyer will enter an appearance (to also get future notices) by notifying the appropriate criminal court officials. For a DUI attorney to be able to effectively assist a person facing a DUI accusation, the criminal defense lawyer must be kept apprised of the client’s whereabouts.
Handling a West Virginia DUI: The Criminal Court Process
All arrests will have the CRIMINAL charges processed in the county of your arrest for DUI. This is a criminal court first appearance, and it usually comes first in West Virginia. The administrative court hearing (described above) comes much later in West Virginia, and can be processed and heard by an administrative judge a year or so after arrest.
The general purpose of this initial DUI court criminal appearance is for the Magistrate judge to make certain that the citizen has received all discovery materials (evidence).
If items are missing, the Court will order the State to provide all discovery evidence that the citizen is entitled to receive (e.g. police report, DUI information sheets, breath machine data, any video or audio evidence, blood results/hospital records, etc.) A deadline will be given (to the Prosecutor) by the Court handling the criminal DUI case, for turnover of these discovery materials.
This notice advises you (and your DUI attorney) of a future date, which is usually 45 to 60 days in the future if not longer. This is how you and your attorney know when you will be required to come to Court.
In the smaller population WV counties, this notice and initial hearing date moves a little quicker than in the larger WV counties. This is due a higher volume of WV DUI cases being handled in the more populous counties in WV.
West Virginia Arrest for DUI: A Municipal Court Is on a Fast Track
If your case is filed in a municipal city court and not with the county magistrate court, an early arraignment date is set, whereby the accused citizen gets the hear the criminal charge(s) read to the accused person by the municipal court judge. Like in the movie, My Cousin Vinny, the Judge expects you to know how to enter a plea of not guilty. Certain motions may be filed by a criminal defense attorney at this hearing if you are represented.
This all generally occurs within ten (10) to fourteen (14) days after arrest. The actual initial court hearing appearance will be two to three months following your DUI arrest date.
Hiring a DUI Lawyer With the Best Attorney Ratings For Your WV DUI
If you research criminal attorneys in Martinsburg, WV, you will find Harley Wagner listed at the top echelons of the best DUI lawyers in West Virginia. The drunk driving attorney wrote the widely-recognized, leading book on WV DUI laws. He travels to every West Virginia county to fight for the best possible case outcome, when his clients need his legal representation.
Harley’s book covers all aspects of potential DUI expungement, the WV DUI deferral program, plus how to clear a DUI arrest record for a DUI first offense in West Virginia. Knowing all DUI defense strategies is the edge that Harley brings to the table, in representing citizens having to deal with a DUI in WV.
He is an expert on the WV code, relating to driver license suspension and DUI. The risk of hiring an average DUI lawyer in WV is that you MISS a once in a lifetime chance to get a DUI expungement. Don’t gamble with your future.
Only a well-trained, experienced West Virginia DUI attorney can help you make complex decisions, and always protect your opportunities to win in Court. Some “election” choices must be made soon after your DUI arrest for a 1st DUI offense in West Virginia. Don’t procrastinate or delay in calling a WV DUI attorney who is a true DUI specialist – Harley Wagner. Call for a FREE consultation, 24-7, at (304) 461-6000.