If the police officer doesn't appear, will they drop charges?

Question: I got charged with a DUI in Woodstock. I never thought I'd get a DUI because I really don't drink. I'll have something to drink maybe 3 times a year and it's usually a little bit of wine. I really can't remember the last time I got drunk or even seriously buzzed. That was probably in college with some of my sorority sisters.

But the other night I met some friends for lunch and I had a few glasses of wine. We went to a restaurant at Avalon in Alpharetta, off Old Milton Parkway. The meal wasn't all that great, but the drinks and wine were flowing (we know the bartender). I tried to drink water with my wine but I admit that I was a little tipsy. I guess I shouldn't have driven home. But I tried to drive home because my friends live in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Buckhead. So if I got a ride home from them it would have been out of the way.

The cop said I swerved and he saw me. I cooperated with him and took all the tests he told me to do. I did the breath test at the jail.

My question is if the police officer doesn't go to court on my first court date, will my charges be dropped?

T.U. in Woodstock, GA

Answer: Your first court date is an arraignment. The police officer is not legally required to be present for an arraignment. At the arraignment you can plead guilty or not guilty; you can request a bench or jury trial. Depending on the facts of the case, perhaps the prosecutor will reduce the DUI charge to reckless driving. Or, perhaps, the prosecutor will inform you that under no circumstances will the DUI charge be reduced.

In fact, because there will not be a trial conducted on your first court appearance, it is unlikely that the police officer will be there. There is really no reason for the officer to attend. Ultimately, if you proceed to trial, the officer will be compelled by subpoena to appear.

Hopefully, you will retain a good DUI attorney who truly understands the court system to advise you every step of the way as you embark on the process.

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