Can You Appeal a DUI Conviction in Utah?
Utah has some of the harshest laws against drunk driving. Facing a DUI charge in Utah should not be taken lightly. If convicted, you could face jail time, fines, a driver’s license suspension, and more. If you or a loved one was charged with a DUI in Salt Lake City or anywhere else in Utah, you need immediate legal representation. For almost twenty years, Salt Lake City DUI lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson law has handled hundreds of DUI cases throughout the state. Read on as we discuss more about DUI sentences in Utah and the possibilities of appealing your case.
What You Should Know About DUI
A DUI conviction in Utah is no laughing matter. While DUIs are considered lesser criminal offenses, they can still cause a big list of problems for convicted defendants. State law is strict when it comes to driving under the influence (DUI). The state prohibits a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more to operate or have immediate control of a vehicle. The limit will actually go down to .05% in 2019. This harsh limit has been imposed by the state to reduce alcohol-related car accidents within Utah’s borders.
Utah divides crimes into “misdemeanors” and “felonies,” each of which is subdivided into different categories with different penalties. For instance, misdemeanors are divided into Class A, B, and C misdemeanors. Penalties for misdemeanors in Utah are as follows:
Class C Misdemeanor
- Sentence: Up to three months in jail
- Fines: Up to $750
Class B Misdemeanor
- Sentence: Up to six months in jail
- Fines: Up to $1,000
Class A Misdemeanor
- Sentence: Up to a year in jail
- Fines: Up to $2,500
DUIs are classified misdemeanors in Utah. This means if you are charged with drunk driving, you could face jail time and steep fines.
Additionally, the penalties and charges can change depending on the situation surrounding your DUI case. For instance, if you are caught drunk driving for the first time, the arresting officer will likely charge you with a Class C misdemeanor that carries the most lenient penalties. However, things can take a turn for the worse if you had previous DUI sentences. For instance, if you had two previous DUI convictions within ten years, a third DUI would be considered a third-degree felony which carries severe consequences. A third-degree criminal conviction means you could face up to 5 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines and costs.
On top of these penalties, DUI charges can also come with a driver’s license suspension, court fees, and increased insurance premiums.
Can I Appeal My Utah Drunk Driving Conviction?
The short answer to this question is yes; you can appeal your DUI conviction. However, there are relevant facts to consider before deciding to appeal your DUI case. Before deciding to appeal your case, you should be aware of which court has jurisdiction over your case and discuss your appeal with a Salt Lake City criminal appeals attorney.
There are two primary types of courts that hear trials in Utah: the justice courts and the district courts. The justice courts are in charge of overseeing lesser criminal charges such as Class C and B misdemeanors, among others. District courts, on the other hand, have general jurisdiction to hear trials for more serious criminal charges such as Class A misdemeanors and all felonies.
Which court hears your case heavily affects the appeals process. For example, if you appeal your Class C misdemeanor sentence, it means you get a shot at a new trial because the trial from a justice court is appealed to the district court. Hearings in justice courts are not recorded, so you get another shot at trial at a district court if you have problems at the justice court. On the other hand, if you are appealing a felony charge, the appeals process becomes more difficult and stringent.
Appealing your sentence from a district court requires demonstrating there were legal errors or rights violations that otherwise could have changed the outcome of your case. You typically need to file an appeals notice within 30 days of sentencing, or you will forfeit your right to a “direct appeal.” Additionally, you would be required to file many different legal documents to support your claim. The whole appeals process can be overwhelming, confusing, and stressful. A skilled and knowledgeable criminal appeals attorney can help you navigate through the complicated process.
If your appeal is ultimately denied, you may be able to appeal the case further to the Utah Supreme Court or even the U.S. Supreme Court. If your appeals are denied, you may have options to file a “collateral appeal” for serious rights violations, though these are quite rare in DUI cases.
DUI Defense Lawyer Handling Misdemeanor and Felony DUI Charges and Appeals in Utah
You could face a long list of problems if you get charged and convicted for a DUI. However, there are ways to appeal your conviction and sentence. If you or a loved one was convicted of a DUI in Utah, you need to seek legal assistance from a skilled Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer. Darwin Overson knows the ins and outs of Utah’s criminal law and is ready to uphold your rights as a defendant. To learn more about your case in a free consultation, call Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 today.