Pre-trial motions are usually written documents filed by a party to the case requesting the court take a certain action. For example, a defense attorney may file a pretrial motion to exclude a piece of evidence that has been obtained inappropriately. Pre-trial motions are used by both the prosecution and the defense to limit the scope of evidence and arguments that can be made during the trial. 

After a pretrial motion is filed, both sides will have the opportunity to argue the merits of the request to the judge, usually during a court hearing. Pre-trial motions can be an extremely important tool for defending DUI charges as successful motions can potentially keep the prosecution from bringing certain charges, offering damaging evidence in trial, or using certain witnesses against you. 

In fact, certain pre-trial motions, if successful, can have the entire criminal case dismissed before ever going to trial (e.g. pre-trial motion to dismiss).

When Must Pre-Trial DUI Motions Be Made?

Generally, pre-trial DUI motions are filed after the preliminary hearing, but before the case goes to trial. However, pre-trial motions can have very strict deadlines depending on the type of motion to be made. 

If a motion is not filed before its corresponding deadline, it is deemed to be waived and you will no longer be able to bring the motion in the future (even if it is a valid request). Motion deadlines can be found in the local court rules or may be set by the judge overseeing the case. 

To ensure that you do not waive the right to valid motions available to you, you should consult an experienced criminal lawyer to avoid missing important deadlines.

What Typical Arguments are Made During Pre-Trial Motions?

There are many potential pre-trial motions available in a DUI case, but some of the more common examples include: 

  • Evidence should be excluded because the evidence found as a result of an illegal search.
  • Confession made in regard to the DUI arrest by a defendant at the scene or afterwards should be excluded on the basis that the police failed to advise the suspect of his Miranda Rights.
  • A breathalyzer test result should be excluded because the equipment used was faulty or the procedure used by the officer was flawed.
  • A ‘scientific evidence argument’, meaning whatever scientific test was used to check the defendant should be considered invalid as it does not accurately demonstrate that the defendant was intoxicated.
  • If the arresting officer acted inappropriately at the scene of the DUI, you may be able to request the officer’s personnel file to look for evidence of past indiscretions such as: 
    • Racial bias;
    • Excessive force; 
    • False arrest;
    • Planting evidence; 
    • Discrimination; 
    • Harassment; or 
    • Criminal conduct.
  • The case should be dismissed due to egregious prosecutorial misconduct, such as failing to share with the defense any evidence that may clear the defendant of guilt (the Brady Rule).
  • The case should be dismissed because the court violated the defendant’s right to a speedy trial.

Should I Contact a Lawyer Regarding My DUI Pre-Trial Motion?

DUI convictions can have serious and lasting consequences. If you have been charged with a DUI, you should contact a local DUI/DWI lawyer immediately. A criminal lawyer can evaluate your case and file any appropriate pre-trial motions that are available to aid you in defending against the criminal charges. In addition, an attorney can gather evidence, negotiate with the prosecutor, depose witnesses, and represent your interests in court.