All DUI courts (or OUI courts in Massachusetts) will follow their state’s established steps for an OUI / DUI trial and adhere to the same set of state laws about drunk driving. You can refer to Chapter 90, Section 24 of Massachusetts General Laws, to explore the exact standards and penalties applicable to all OUI / DUI cases heard in Massachusetts.
However, the specific court that hears your DUI trial can actually impact the case in at least three small but significant ways.
1. The DUI Trial Date
DUI courts in busier or more populous districts may have a longer backlog of cases to hear, which could mean a longer wait before your DUI trial occurs. On the bright side, this gives you more time to work with your attorney on planning an effective defense. The tradeoff is that the case's uncertain outcome will linger in the meantime (unless you reach a plea deal or uncover grounds for dismissal).
2. Unique Processes or Schedules at Your DUI Court
Not every court follows the exact same operating procedures or schedule. For example, Worcester District Court begins at 8:30 AM sharp. Many other courts in the state don’t start until 9:00 AM.
Knowing your local court’s schedule will help you plan to arrive for your DUI trial promptly and set a good first impression with the judge presiding over the case. You don’t want to be late. If you aren’t in court at the time the case is called, the court could default you and even issue a warrant for your arrest. Resolving the default will cost money—and the inconvenience won’t sit well with your judge.
We’ve got a few more helpful tips on preparing for courtroom processes and the schedule of your DUI trial here.
3. Your DUI Attorney’s Experience With the Local Court System
Always seek legal counsel from a DUI / OUI attorney who is familiar with (and has real trial experience in) the court that will hear your case. A local DUI defense attorney who has frequently worked in the actual courthouse for your case will be familiar with the nuances, people, and personalities involved. This could lead to several advantages, such as foreknowledge of how local court judges have treated certain standards of proof or types of evidence in past DUI trials.
Make sure to ask your attorney if they’ve worked in the local court system before. Every judge will defer to the letter of the law, but it’s common for a court to take previous interpretations of the Massachusetts OUI statute and local OUI / DUI trial precedents into consideration.
You Won’t Get to Choose Which Court Hears Your DUI Trial
Every county in Massachusetts has multiple district courts that handle criminal OUI / DUI trials. This might matter if your charges are in a different county than the one where you live.
Your license was likely suspended at the time of your arrest for either failing or refusing a breathalyzer test. You will need to make your own transportation arrangements to get to the court that your case is out of—even if it’s across the state—for the arraignment, any hearings or appeals, and the OUI / DUI trial itself (if your case progresses to a courtroom trial).
If you have an OUI case that will be heard in a Massachusetts court, get in touch with an experienced attorney immediately. Your best bet is to get legal representation from an attorney with a track record of success going to court for DUI / OUI in that county.