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Key aspects of Virginia's DUI court

When people struggle with addictions, it can lead to poor choices. For those battling alcoholism, facing DUI charges may be a common repercussion. 

The courts acknowledge this and have programs that may benefit such parties. People who face DUI charges and are considering seeking this program should be aware of a few key aspects.

Court process

DUI programs have become popular in several states, and they all have their own process. According to Virginia's standards of the court, the defendant goes before the court, usually with a magistrate presiding, to receive a trial date, bail amount and temporary driver's license, if applicable. Though only one trial date is set initially, it is quite common for defendants to appear in court at least twice. During the first court date, the attorneys on both sides meet, review evidence and discuss any plea deals. If the defendant does not agree to a plea deal, the process continues, and at the next court date the judge hears the arguments of both sides and makes a determination. 

Program composition

Whereas in regular court the judge makes the final sentencing decisions, in DUI court the judge, prosecution and the defendant's representation work together to determine program requirements in alignment with the needs of the defendant. Though the timeframe may vary, there are a few elements that comprise the DUI court program, including the following:

  • Group and individual counseling
  • Random drug tests
  • Set meetings with the judge
  • Maintaining work or obtaining education

The defendant must agree to and abide by the set terms. Those who do not fulfill the requirements or who have relapses may face jail time.

The purpose of the DUI court is to provide parties with an alternative to jail that will actually help to rehabilitate them rather than just punish them. Many of the programs have seen success with proper implementation.

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