Michigan DUI Court Process


Attorney Edward Duke explains the  Michigan DUI court process that you may expect if facing a charge of drunk driving.


If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony DUI in Michigan, a date will be set for your arraignment in district court. An arraignment is where you are given formal notice of the drunk driving charges against you. It will be your first appearance of the Michigan DUI Court Process in District Court and you have the right to be represented by a lawyer.

At a misdemeanor arraignment, the defendant is given the opportunity to enter a plea.  In general, a defendant will plead not guilty or stand mute. If a person stands mute, a not guilty plea is entered on his or her behalf by the court, in which case the matter will be scheduled for a pretrial conference.

The court also imposes bond conditions at the arraignment as part of the Michigan DUI Court Process. Random alcohol and drug testing are often imposed as bond conditions and can be exceedingly costly as well as inconvenient. Limitations on travel can also be imposed.

Consequently, it is important to engage the services of an experienced OWI defense attorney prior to your district court arraignment to review the specifics of your case. Once bond conditions are set, it may be difficult to get them modified. That is one important reason that a person facing and DUI or related offense should never choose to appear at arraignment or at any time during the Michigan DUI court process without counsel.


All misdemeanor cases are scheduled for one or more pretrial conferences at the district court.  The pretrial conferences take place between the defendant’s attorney and an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney to decide whether the case will go to trial, be resolved with a plea or dismissed. Plea negotiations generally begin at the pretrial conference, and the case may or may not be negotiated at the pretrial phase.

For a felony arraignment, the defendant is informed of the charge and advised of the right to a preliminary examination within 14 days of the arraignment. The defendant does not tender a plea of guilty or not guilty, and issues related to bond are determined by the judge.

A preliminary examination is not a trial.

The purpose of a preliminary examination is to decide if the prosecutor can prove if there is probable cause that a crime was committed and whether there is probable cause that the person accused is the one who committed the crime.

Witnesses are called to establish probable cause even though guilt does not have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt at this point. If the judge rules that the prosecutor has shown probable cause, then the case is “bound over” to Circuit Court. If the Judge determines that there is not probable cause, then he or she can bind the case over on different charges, reduce the charges to misdemeanors for trial in District Court, or dismiss charges.

A defendant can choose to waive his or her right to a preliminary examination. Most felonies arrive in Circuit Court after such a waiver.

After the felony case is sent to Circuit Court, the defendant is arraigned again. He or she enters a plea to the charge (guilty, not guilty or stand mute). A series of pretrial conferences and proceedings are scheduled between the defendant’s attorney and an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney. Circuit Court pretrial proceedings address issues that must be settled before trial, such as motions to quash, evidentiary hearing requirements and possible pleas or sentencing agreements.


During a trial the Prosecutor must present evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defendant does not have to prove his or her innocence or present any evidence; however, the defendant may challenge the accuracy of the Prosecutor’s evidence.

Both the Prosecutor (representing the People of the State of Michigan) and the defendant have the right to a trial by a jury. Sometimes, both sides agree to a bench trial, at which a Judge listens to the evidence and decides the case without a jury. After the evidence is presented, the judge or a jury will decide if the evidence proved that the defendant committed the crime. A criminal case jury verdict must be unanimous.


Being charged and convicted of a drunk driving  DUI  / OWI and going through the Michigan DUI court process can be a life changing event. 

If you find yourself faced with that reality, you would be well advised to seek the counsel of an experienced, qualified and time-tested Michigan DUI defense lawyer who has a proven track record of winning difficult drunk and drugged driving cases.

I am proud of my reputation as one of the best drunk driving defense attorneys in Michigan. For over 36 years I have successfully represented clients charged with serious alcohol and drug related driving offenses through the Michigan DUI court process.

My philosophy, that every case is defendable, has resulted in hundreds of successful outcomes for grateful and appreciative clients.  Remember, your arrest doesn’t have to result in a conviction.

Click Here to Contact Edward Earl Duke

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180 High Oak, Suite 205

Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

(248) 409-0484 

Michigan DUI Court Process
Article Name
Michigan DUI Court Process
Attorney Edward Duke explains the Michigan DUI court process that you may expect if facing a charge of drunk driving.
Duke Law Group