If you have not spent much time in the Durham County Courthouse before your scheduled hearing, you may be wondering what to wear to a DUI court hearing. The answer, though not difficult, is important to get right, because to dress poorly can have unfortunate and unforeseen consequences concerning the outcome of your case.

What to Wear to Court for a DUI in Durham, NC?

Whether this is your first time going to court, or you have been there multiple times, the answer is the same: dress up! That means a suit and tie if you are a man, or a pantsuit, a dress, or slacks and a nice top if you are a woman.

A few things you should not wear: anything with images or words that could be remotely considered offensive, anything connected with gangs, or that has any profanities on it.

Why Do I Have to Dress Up?

First of all, it is important to dress up in order to go to court, because it is an official proceeding of the state. Whether you are the defendant, a witness, or a juror, dressing well (that is, dressier than normal, everyday clothes) is a must. Dressing respectably delivers a good first impression with the other members of the courtroom proceedings, and it also shows the judge that you are mentally prepared for the court hearing, and willing to take it seriously.

You always want to start off on the right foot with the judge, and get him or her to take you seriously. Dressing well is especially important when you are the defendant and asking favors of the court. If you are trying to get the best result for your DUI case, then you should definitely try to show the judge your good intentions and that you are respecting him or her and the court.

Guidelines for Men

Men, for the most part, should wear a suit and a tie. This is standard business dress code, and all lawyers (who are in the courtroom all the time) follow it. If you cannot find a suit to wear, definitely wear at least nice pants (not jeans!) with a belt, and black or brown shoes.

Sneakers, sandals, and boots are generally frowned upon. If you are coming from work, and you do not have any time to change into nicer clothes, just explain your situation to the judge immediately, and he or she will definitely understand.

One note about non-clothing: while you may wear jewelry or have tattoos, it is important not to show them too much while in court. Unfortunate and unfair as it may be, there are those (including judges and jurors) who view such styles and expressions as part of a gang culture, and might view you unfavorably because of it. Ask your local Durham DUI lawyer for more advice on how to dress for court.

Guidelines for Women

The name of the game is “respectable.” Wear a pantsuit, a dress, or a pair of business slacks/skirt with a nice top. Be conservative in the style, and modest. Low-cut tops or dresses, shirts that expose your midriff, or skirts that are too short may give the judge reason to think you are not taking the court process seriously. While you may be used to wearing those styles of clothing, in court they can give a bad first impression.

It is important to layer your clothing, because the temperature in the courtroom may fluctuate throughout your appearance. In order to appear professional before the judge, try to avoid bright patterns and loud fashion statements. Instead, see our blog for our guide to What Color To Wear To Court.

Jewelry and makeup should be kept to a minimum. Wearing lots of jewelry or expensive brands is not a good image to portray in court.


The important thing to remember about dressing for your court appearance is professionalism. In order to provide a great first impression to the judge and to show respect to the court proceedings, the first key is dressing appropriately (see our blog for our tips on how to behave in court).

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case. Contact our local Durham DUI lawyer at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.

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