The first court date after a DUI Arrest occurs approximately 30 days after the day of arrest. The court date is set on the police officer’s “key.” Every officer is given a certain day or two each month that they are scheduled to appear in Court. For example the key of “W” will stand for the second Tuesday and fourth Monday of every month. Because the officer is setting the case for his “key date” he is scheduled to be in court, not only for your case but for all the cases that may have pending.
I am often asked what happens if the officer is not in court. The short answer is it generally does not matter, (except for the Statutory Summary Suspension). A DUI charge in Illinois is a Class A Misdemeanor, which requires that you go to trial within 160 days if your out on bond and 140 days if your in custody (jail). Therefore, on the first court date, assuming it is 30 days after your arrest, the State’s Attorney’s Office still has approximately 130 more days to get the officer into court to have a trial. A DUI is not like a regular traffic ticket where if the police officer does not show up the ticket is dismissed.
However, on the Statutory Summary Suspension, if the police officer is not present in Court and there is a Petition to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension which was previously filed, the police officer’s absence may make a world of difference.
As was discussed under “Statutory Summary Suspension” the State’s Attorney’s Office, whether it is the Cook County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County State’s, etc. the police officer will testify as to what happened at the time from the DUI stop to the time you left the police station on bond. If the police officer is not present in court, the state’s attorney’s office has the option to “go on paper” that means the state’s attorney in the courtroom will give the Judge the police officer’s sworn reports as a substitute for the police officer’s live testimony. This usually suffices to establish a prima facia case, meaning enough evidence to require the defense to have to present some evidence. The evidence I provide is my Client’s sworn testimony. This means I have the clerk will swear my Client in and then I ask my Client questions under oath. I usually limit my questions to three or four very specific questions. The Client is testifying for no more than a minute or two.
Judges will favor live in person testimony over a sworn report, therefore the Statutory Summary Suspension will be rescinded (thrown out) and your driver’s license will not be suspended as a result of the Statutory Summary Suspension.
The next important event happens at the first court date is we get copies of the police reports, including the arresting officer’s first hand account of what he or she observed and the reason the officer believes you were driving under the influence. We will also get a copy of any video recording of your driving and any Field Sobriety Tests you may have agreed to perform.
Your case will then be continued approximately 30 days to give us an opportunity to watch the video (if one exists), review any police reports and to decide if any motions need to be file.