If you've been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), you might be able to appeal your case. In a DUI appeal, you ask a higher court to review aspects of your trial court case for legal error. The claimed error can relate to either the conviction or the sentence imposed.
This article discusses common grounds for appealing a DUI conviction. It also addresses the appeal process, including briefs, the record, and how and when to appeal.
Common Grounds for a DUI Appeal
Appellate attorneys can raise several issues for a DUI appeal. Generally, the grounds for an appeal fall under the categories of procedural or substantive. An example of a procedural issue is an error in accepting a guilty plea. Motions to exclude confessions and to suppress evidence are examples of substantive issues in a criminal case. An experienced DUI defense lawyer can offer an in-depth explanation specific to your circumstances.
The Appeal Process: The Record
In a DUI appeal, the defendant (referred to as the "appellant" on appeal) claims that the case should be dismissed or that there should be a new trial or resentencing. This can be based on critical legal mistakes that affected the jury's decision or the sentence imposed.
In considering an appeal, the court reviewing the case looks only at the record of the proceedings in the lower court. The appellate court doesn't consider any new evidence. The record comprises the court reporter's transcripts of everything said in court, whether by the judge, the attorneys, or the witnesses. Anything else admitted into evidence, such as documents or objects, is also part of the record.
The DUI Appeal Process: Briefs
In reaching a decision on the appeal, the higher court (often a court of appeals) looks to the record and written briefs filed by both sides of the appeal. For example, an appellant challenging a conviction or sentence files an opening brief. In that brief, the appellant argues how and why the conviction or sentence was legally mistaken.
In response, the government files its own brief to illustrate why the conviction or sentence should be upheld. The appellant can usually file a second brief in response to the government's position. The appellate court may hear oral arguments from each side before deciding the appeal.
The DUI Appeal Process: How and When?
At the state and federal court levels, various options exist for obtaining relief after a criminal conviction or sentence on a DUI charge. Most states require an appellant to notify the courts and the government of their intent to appeal soon after a conviction or sentence. Even so, it might take many months for an appeal to be heard and decided. You begin the process of appealing your DUI conviction by filing a notice of appeal.
Have a DUI Attorney Review Your DUI Case
If you've been found guilty of drunk driving and believe there may have been errors in how the trial was handled, one option is to appeal your conviction. Even if you didn't have a defense attorney helping you with your criminal defense at your original trial, legal expertise is vital to a successful appeal.
Get legal advice and find out your legal options by scheduling an initial consultation with a local DUI lawyer. An appeals attorney can help you understand DUI laws, the legal issues in your case, and the effect of your conviction on your criminal record.