If you've been arrested and convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), you may feel that you have no options. Our justice system, however, allows all those convicted of a crime to appeal the ruling and/or the sentence, and a DUI conviction is no different. Read on for a quick primer on how the DUI appeals process works so that you can act with confidence after your conviction.
What Is an Appeal?
An appeal is granted to those who the court determines deserves another look at their trial. Once your sentence is handed down, you have a limited amount of time to request an appeal. Most of the time, the attorney who represented you at your DUI trial can recommend an appellant attorney. If you are unable to afford an attorney, the court can appoint an appellant attorney to represent you. It is inadvisable to attempt to represent yourself at an appellant hearing since a detailed knowledge of the law and court procedures is necessary for a successful appeal.
An Appellate Brief Is Presented
Unlike the original trial, an appellate hearing is almost exclusively based on written arguments. The appellant brief contains an argument stating the reasons why the trial was unfair. Appeals can be based on various factors. Appeals for a DUI might contain the following arguments:
- The judge made a mistake when instructing the jury.
- The judge made a mistake when they allowed or disallowed DUI evidence.
- The judge made a mistake in court procedure.
- The judge failed to follow property sentencing guidelines. For example, if you are a first-time offender and the judge orders you to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, you might have grounds for an appeal if that law only applies to second-time or more offenders.
What Else to Know About Appeals
No new evidence can be presented at an appeal—an appeal deals only with what happened at the original trial. After both sides have submitted their briefs, oral arguments begin. These arguments are presided over by a panel of three judges, in most cases.
The entire process can take anywhere from a month or so to six months. If the appellate court agrees with the argument presented, they can overturn or reverse the original conviction or sentence. If not, the appellant court affirms in full the original trial results. If you lose at your appeal, you have the option to appeal to a higher court, which might be your state's supreme court.
Speak to a criminal defense attorney to learn more about DUI appeals.