A motion to dismiss is a request to the judge to dismiss your case either because you should not have been arrested in the first place, or because you were charged in a way that is illegal. A dismissal could mean you effectively win your DUI case.
Getting the charge dismissed is one way to effectively win your DUI case. When a judge dismisses a case, they are saying that it is improper for the charge to go forward, either because there is no evidence for it or because there was some procedural mistake. The effect of a dismissal is that you are free to go and you face no criminal penalties for your DUI.
Judges dismiss cases for many reasons, including:
- Key evidence against you has been suppressed, and a conviction is unlikely
- The prosecutor agrees to drop the charges
- Your rights have been violated in some way
However, there are cases where you or your lawyer can request dismissal. The formal request to the court is known as a motion to dismiss.
How does a motion to dismiss work?
For it to succeed, you have to show that one of two things happened. Either:
- There was no probable cause for your arrest. Police need a reason to stop a vehicle in the first place—either reasonable suspicion of a crime, or signs that someone is in distress and needs help. Likewise, they must have a good reason to believe you are guilty of DUI when they first arrest you, known as probable cause. If there was no probable cause in your arrest, a dismissal is likely.
- You were charged in a way that was illegal. You have rights that need to be enforced during your preliminary hearing for your case. If you were denied the right to an attorney, not advised of your right to an attorney, or if there were other mistakes that violated your rights, it is possible to request a dismissal.
How does a dismissal affect a DUI case?
It depends. In some cases the judge may dismiss one charge against you but not others, or they may dismiss a sentence enhancement. In other cases they may dismiss all of your charges.
If your DUI is dismissed, you effectively “win” your case in most ways, but note entirely. You will still have to resolve the suspension of your drivers license with the DMV, for example, and they may or may not reinstate your license, depending on the reason your case was dismissed. You will also have a DUI arrest on your record, though not a conviction.
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