If you have been charged with a DWI/DUI, the first hearing that will be scheduled in your case is the Arraignment. The Arraignment is a very short hearing where you appear before the Court to have the charges read to you by the judge, have your rights explained to you, and to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty to the charges.
It would be extremely unwise to plea guilty at the Arraignment. A plea of not guilty brings a close to any opportunities for a legal defense. Almost universally, defendants plea not guilty at this stage. Many judges will not even allow a guilty plea at this stage understanding that a plea of guilty at the Arraignment indicates a defendant that does not understand his or her legal situation.
As such, the Arraignment is really a mere formality. Most judges, though there are a few exceptions, will allow you to Waiver your Arraignment with a Waiver of Appearance. Your attorney will file the Waiver of Appearance with you signature. The Waiver will indicate that you have been explained the charges against you, the consequences of a conviction, and your constitutional rights. With this, you will sign the Waiver entering a plea of not guilty. You will then be excused from attendance at the Arraignment and the Arraignment hearing will be canceled.
Following the filing of the Waiver of Appearance, the Court will set the first of what could be several pre-trial conferences. Most judges will allow misdemeanor defendants to waive their appearance at all pre-trial hearings such as the pre-trial conference. The Waiver of Appearance that your attorney has entered on the Arraignment serves this same purpose.
With the Waiver of Appearance filed, you will be excused from attending any court hearings until your first trial setting which could be months away. This will avoid you having to take off work, school or other responsibilities to attend what can often be lengthy hours in court as you wait on your case to be called by the judge.