DUI Trial Procedure

First Five Things to Do

One of the most nerve-wracking parts of fighting a DUI is the process – especially if you’ve never seen the inside of a courtroom. The DUI trial procedure and process in PA can be a maze. This article aims to demystify the process with a step-by-step explanation of the typical DUI trial in Pennsylvania.

DUI Trial Procedures/ DUI Trial Steps

Step 1. The Preliminary Hearing

At the Preliminary Hearing, the police officer who handled your arrest will present your case to a District Judge. The court will then decide if there is enough evidence to move forward and try you for DUI. The burden of proof (the amount of evidence the state needs to show) at the Preliminary Hearing is lower than that of a trial. However, there is still a possibility that the charges against you can be lowered or even dismissed at this point. That’s why it’s important to have an aggressive DUI lawyer at your side at your Preliminary Hearing.

If you’ve been accused of DUI, waiting to get a date for your preliminary hearing in the mail is not the best thing to do. Don’t delay. Contact The McShane Firm today for your free initial consultation and your trial may be over before it even begins.

Step 2. Formal Arraignment

Thirty to sixty days after the Preliminary Hearing, you will appear before the court to hear charges against you and be advised of your rights. Usually your attorney can arrange to waive (skip) this hearing or go in your place.

Step 3. Discovery Phase

After the Formal Arraignment, the Court will turn over copies of their evidence against you to your attorney. This evidence can be anything from chemical test results, photographs, statements from witnesses, and other forms of evidence. Your DUI lawyer will use this evidence to construct the best possible defense for you.

When selecting which attorney to hire, please consider:

  • Can you call anytime and talk to a live person?
  • Do they offer payment plans with no credit checks?
  • Will your attorney be attentive and explain what’s going on?

At The McShane Firm, we answer yes to all of these questions. We strive to provide you with a great customer service experience during this tough time.

The McShane Firm regularly employs the state’s top DUI experts, along with our own in-house private detective, to give you a peerless DUI defense. Contact us today to put our experienced team to work on your case.

DUI trial procedures: a step by step process

Step 4. Omnibus Pretrial Motion

During the Discovery Phase, your lawyer will file an Omnibus Pretrial Motion. We file this motion pretrial to ask the Court to look at your case and make sure none of your rights and no state laws have been violated. Specifically, the Court will be asked to consider whether:

  • the traffic stop and your detainment was legal
  • there was sufficient Probable Cause to arrest you
  • the police gave the chemical test legally
  • the results of the chemical test (or a report of your refusal to take one) are valid
  • And anything else that is suitable

Again, this is another point where your attorney will work to uncover a reason to have your case dismissed or your charges reduced. The highly-trained DUI attorneys of The McShane Firm can spot when the government has violated your rights during your arrest. Don’t let a golden opportunity pass you by. Contact us today.

Step 5. Trial

Next in the line of the PA DUI procures is trial level events. If your case proceeds to trial, the State will present its case against you to a judge or jury, and your attorney will present witnesses and evidence to counteract the State’s case, doing everything possible to help you obtain the best possible result.

As you can see, while the DUI trial process is complex, it also offers several opportunities for you to achieve a favorable result. Your best chance of making that happen is to hire the right DUI attorney to argue on your behalf.

The experienced DUI lawyers of The McShane Firm are fierce litigators, with no fear of the courtroom. We pledge to fight aggressively for your case, your rights, and your freedom.

The DUI specialists at The McShane Firm are ready to give you the representation deserve and guide you through the DUI trial procedure.

What is The McShane Difference?

  • We take time to understand your personal needs and goals. Then we cater our legal strategy to fit you.
  • We care about you. We listen and return phone calls. We will take time to explain things so you are not left anxious in the dark.
  • We will make this as easy as possible. We will try to minimize the number of times you have to be in court which means less disruption of your work and family life.

Does this sound like what you are looking for in an attorney? If yes, then take the next step and call (717) 657-3900.

Additional recommended reading:


Why Fight a DUI in PA?

If you’ve been accused of DUI in Pennsylvania, your best option, and really your only option, is to fight back. The reason is simple:

if you plead guilty to DUI, you will be found guilty of DUI – 100% of the time.

And if you don’t think that’s a particularly big deal, keep reading.

A DUI conviction in PA brings a long list of penalties, including:

  • fines ranging from a few hundred to thousands of dollars
  • a hike in your insurance rates
  • a possible suspended license
  • massive and embarrassing community service
  • possible jail time ranging from a few days to even years
  • everyone with an internet connection can look up your name and see you are a jailbird

And your pain and suffering won’t end there. Years after those punishments are just a memory, your DUI conviction will remain on your permanent criminal record, where any potential employer, bank officer, or nosy neighbor can look it up. And it will stay that way for the rest of your life, even if you never, ever break the law again.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can fight back. With the help of the right DUI lawyer – an experienced, aggressive attorney who understands DUI law – you may even be able to reduce your charges or win your case altogether.

Remember: Being accused of DUI doesn’t automatically mean you’re guilty of DUI.

For you to be convicted, the state has to prove their case against you in a court of law. Just like any trial, a lawyer by your side can make all the difference.

DUI law is complicated. It’s not a good idea for you to represent yourself in a DUI case. Likewise, bring an attorney with you to court who hasn’t handled thousands of DUI cases is a bad idea. It is an especially bad idea to bring in just any lawyer, like a friend of a friend or a relative. You need an experienced DUI lawyer with specialized DUI training who can stand up to the state’s evidence and witnesses on your behalf.

You might think that hiring a specialized DUI lawyer is expensive. But look at it this way: given the steep fines, increased insurance rates, and potential loss of license and livelihood that comes with a permanent DUI conviction, can you really afford NOT to fight your DUI?

Why and when to use experts in DUI defense

At The McShane Firm, we regularly employ the nation’s top DUI experts to defend citizen like yourself who have been accused of DUI. We do this because the State will certainly bring in their own experts to prove their case against you. Beginning with the officer who arrested you, the government has trained witnesses on its side. The person who performed the chemical tests on you is another professional witness. Without your own experts working for you, you have no one to stand up for you against those witnesses and counter their evidence. You need someone in your corner to provide an alternate explanation of the prosecution’s evidence against you.

Our attorneys at The McShane Firm are highly-trained in DUI defense and the latest in forensic science. However, Pennsylvania law prohibits us from testifying as experts on your behalf in court. All we are legally allowed to do is ask questions of the witnesses on the stand. We cannot provide answers to questions. That’s why we bring in the best experts in the country to take on the State’s chemical tests, Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, accident reconstruction, and any other evidence against you to make sure your rights are fully protected and every possible defense is explored.

Chemical Test Experts

Blood and breathalyzer tests are not perfect. Many things can go wrong during the testing process. We find fault with the processing of evidence that can result in an incorrect BAC number. Our experts know exactly how to attack chemical test evidence based on the facts of your case. Whether the breathalyzer was incorrectly calibrated, or your blood sample has been compromised, chemical test experts are trained to cast reasonable doubt, and sometimes even prove your innocence.

Additional Recommended Reading: PA DUI Blood and breath design scandals

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) Experts

SFST experts can use your performance roadside test to support the possibility that you were not under the influence at the time of your arrest. If you performed well on these tests, an expert can show that you were neither physically nor mentally impaired at the time of your arrest. This will cast doubt on the State’s case.

  • Mental impairment (the inability to follow instructions, count in order, etc.) always precedes physical impairment (losing balance, swaying while walking) when a person is intoxicated
  • This means that if you did well on the mental aspects of the test, the expert can assert that any physical issues were probably due to other factors.
  • Finally, many Pennsylvania police officers do not conduct, explain, and/or grade SFSTs properly. The cops failure to follow the SFST rules in any of these areas mean the test is invalid and cannot be used against you. Our SFST experts can spot these errors and strengthen your defense.

PA DUI AccidentAccident Reconstruction Experts

If your DUI involved an accident, injury, or death, an expert accident reconstructionist can offer a differing opinion on what happened leading up to and during an accident. They may show evidence that may prove that an accident was not your fault or was unavoidable. This can be especially helpful in DUI Accident or DUI Homicide cases where a jury’s emotions may come into play.

If you’ve been accused of DUI in Pennsylvania, you need the experts on your side. Contact The McShane Firm today for your free initial consultation and find out how we can put the power of the nation’s top DUI experts to work on your case.


Our Clients are entitled to a Bill of Rights which states:

  • Our clients have the right to expect, we will be proactive in communication. You will hear it from us first. We will return all phone calls, texts and emails promptly.
  • Our clients have the right to expect plain speaking, straight shooting. No B. S.
  • Our clients have the right to expect us to do it right the first time, every time.
  • Our clients have the right to expect us to be on time and professionally prepared for all court appearances, and all meetings.
  • Our clients have the right to expect that they will be fully informed at all times.

This is our promise to you. Call today to get us on your side: (717) 657-3900.

Using Science in the Courtroom

Today’s law enforcement and criminal justice system has become heavily influenced by advances in science.  From DNA evidence to blood testing, from drug identification to fingerprinting, forensic science plays a key role in DUI, drug and other criminal cases.  The problem is that the vast majority of lawyers don’t have the necessary training to stand toe-to-toe with the scientific experts the government will call to testify against you.

The McShane Firm is different

At The McShane Firm we are known as “The Science Attorneys” and as Lawyer-Scientists.  Every year, we attend and teach thousands of hours of scientific training all in an effort to provide you with the best legal and scientific defense to your case.  There are a lot of issues with government crime labs. We have discovered them. We have forced government labs to shut down. In other words, we challenge them every step of the way.

McShane Lecture

No other attorney in the world can match up with Attorney Justin McShane. Some of the highlights are:

  • invited by prosecutors, police, investigators, lawyers, judges, academics, scientists, machine manufacturers, and policy-makers to lecture at international, national, state and local seminars. Lectured tens of thousands and for 35 different organizations in 22 different states.
  • lectured at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National meeting and presented four times at the American Academy for Forensic Science (AAFS) national meetings.  These are scientific organizations. The topics covered scientific issues in front of audiences filled with scientists.
  • Named as the Senior Assistant Chromatography Instructor for the American Chemical Society.  The major technology and science behind DUI Blood analysis is gas chromatography.
  • Serves as the co-chairman of the Forensic Science section of the ACS-Chemistry and the Law Division.
  • Publishes a popular forensic science blog: The Truth About Forensic Science

All of the attorneys at The McShane Firm are:

  • Graduates of the American Chemical Society Forensic Chromatography Course
  • Have taken Drug Recognition Expert courses which is the highest level of training the police take in impaired driving
  • Received advanced training in the identification of solid drug dose (pre-consumption form) cases
  • Have cross-examined and won acquittals based upon science and translating it to both judges and juries

The choice is clear.  If you want to fight the forensic evidence against you, call the firm that knows the science and commands respect in the courtroom. Call (717) 657-3900.