The arraignment is really in a DWI case more formality than substantive.  There are two basic functions for the arraignment. Both functions can be fulfilled by your attorney if you have one.  You have a right to an arraignment if you like but there really is no need for it in most DWI cases.

If you wish to waive it, there are deadlines.  However, these deadlines are not set in stone. They are more the custom and practice of the various courts and judges.  As such, different judges will have different deadlines on filing the Waiver.  Suffice it to say that caution suggest filing it as soon as possible.

Purpose of the Arraignment 

First, the arraignment is where the DWI defendant will be read the charges and advised of the possible consequences.  Second, the arraignment allows the defendant the option of pleading guilty or not guilty.

It would be exceedingly unwise to plead guilty at the arraignment.  Most judges would not even allow this in the absence of the advice of attorney. And few attorneys if any would ever advise this.

Most But Not All Judges Will Allow a Waiver of Arraignment

Most, though not all judges in Albuquerque Metropolitan Court will allow a DWI defendant to waive the arraignment.  Practices vary in other areas around the State so it is important to know the practice of the relevant court and judge.

In addition to allowing the waiver of arraignment, many if not most, of the judges in Albuquerque Metro Court will allow the defendant to waive his or her appearance at all pre-trial hearings.

This means that you can in those cases avoid all the hearings leading up to trial.  However, you must attend the trial with or without an attorney or face charges and a warrant for failure to appear.

The waiver of appearance at all pre-trial hearings is done with the same form that is filed for waiving the arraignment.  This again is a pretty good reason for getting an attorney right away in your DWI case.

In any event, attorneys alone can file the Waiver of Arraignment.  You cannot file it on your own leading us to the next section.

Attorney is Required for Filing Waiver of Arraignment

The Waiver of Arraignment is filed by your attorney.  The Waiver will state that you understand the charges and possible consequences and plead not guilty to those charges.   This means that your attorney has explained the charges and consequences.

As such, you must have an attorney.  If you do not have an attorney, you must attend the arraignment.  If you do attend the arraignment, do not plead guilty.  If you do plead guilty (and the court allows it), it is game over.  There is nothing left to do but sentencing on your DWI conviction.

Do Not Delay in Getting an Attorney

Though attending the arraignment is more of an inconvenience than anything else, it can for some be a significant burden on work and family duties.  If you wish to avoid the arraignment, do not delay in getting an attorney.  Last minute filing of the Waiver will be refused by many judges.

More than the inconvenience of the arraignment, there are many other substantive deadlines in your DWI case.  Missing these deadlines will have harmful consequences on your rights and possibly on the defense of the DWI charges against you.

An experienced DWI attorney can help guide you through the many deadlines while also building the most effective defense of your DWI charges.

Aditional Reading on New Mexico DWI Issues from our DWI Blog