If you have been arrested for a DUI in Fairfax County, the Magistrate will set your first court date. This initial court date is called an Arraignment. An Arraignment is a court proceeding designed to ensure the person understands the charge they are facing and to inquire about having a lawyer. In Fairfax County, the Judge will not ask whether the person plans enter a plea to the DUI charge. Arraignments are relatively stress-free as the police officer is not present and no evidence will be presented. It is simply the first step in the life of a DUI court case.
Arraignments in Fairfax County are typically set approximately 10 days after arrest. It is a good idea for the individual to contact a DUI attorney prior to the arraignment. In most cases the arraignment can be waived if an attorney is hired beforehand. In the event the person does not have an attorney, then they must appear at the arraignment. When the Judge calls the case, they will advise the person of the charge against them and will typically ask if they understand the charge. The Judge will then ask if the person plans to hire an attorney or seek court-appoint counsel.
If the person plans to hire their own attorney, an intervening court date will be set about two weeks later. This new court date is called an Information on Attorney Date (IAD). This court hearing is designed to ensure the person has hired an attorney and is specific to Fairfax County DUI cases. If an attorney is hired before this court date then the "IAD" court date can be waived and the person does not need to appear. If, however, an attorney is not hired then the person must appear at this court hearing to explain to the Judge why they have not hired an attorney and this hearing may be continued by the Judge to a later date for further inquiry.
If the person cannot afford to hire an attorney then the Judge will have them fill out a financial statement to see if they qualify for court-appointed counsel based on their income and expenses. If they qualify, an attorney will be appointed by the court for them. If they do not qualify for court-appointed counsel then they must hire their own attorney.
It should be noted a failure to appear for a DUI court date, including an arraignment or IAD date, will result in an arrest warrant being issued by the Judge against you. It is important to ensure you appear for these hearings unless you have both hired an attorney and been told by them you don't need to appear.
It is very important to have a lawyer for DUI cases so that all procedures are followed and so a good defense can be investigated and prepared. It is also strongly recommended you hire a Fairfax County DUI Lawyer since they have more knowledge of local procedures than Lawyers from other jurisdictions do. This will help you achieve the best result possible for your DUI case.