Can You Appeal a DUI Conviction in Utah?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

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 Happens During a DUI Arrest in Utah

When you are arrested for a DUI in Utah, you’ll face both criminal charges and a suspension of your driver’s license. Following your arrest, you can expect to be charged with a DUI. Get in touch with a lawyer to help you with your DUI defense as quickly as possible. Police will also confiscate your  driver’s license when you’re arrested and will issue a citation that serves as a temporary driving permit for the next 29 days, after which you’ll have 10 days to request a hearing with your county’s Driver’s License Division from the Utah Department of Public Safety. If you do not schedule a hearing, your license will be suspended for at least 120 days.

What to Expect During the DUI Hearing Process

Your hearing with the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Driver’s License Division is a chance for you to make a case for why you should be able to keep your license. An attorney can help you during this hearing by challenging evidence used against you and helping you make a case for why you should be able to keep your license. Whether or not your license is suspended—and if it is, how long the driver’s license suspension will last—are determined by a few factors.


Drivers charged with DUIs that are under the age of 21 will face an automatic minimum suspension of 120 days.

Previous DUI Convictions

Having previous DUI convictions on your record can increase your chances of having your license suspended and can increase the length of your suspension. A second DUI conviction, for example, can result in a license suspension lasting two years.

Behavior During Your Arrest

The way you behaved during your DUI arrest will be taken into account during your hearing. If you refused to take a sobriety test, injured other people, or had a child in the car with you while you were driving under the influence, you can expect a lengthier license suspension and ultimately more penalties overall.

Can You Appeal a DUI Sentence?

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 that 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 that 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 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.

Note that while it is possible to appeal a DUI sentence, it is not possible to appeal driver’s license suspensions in Utah. Appeals can only be made by a court, within the court system. However, it is possible to fight a driver’s license suspension during your hearing with the Driver’s License Division of the Utah Department of Public Safety. You can work with an experienced attorney to find a way out of your suspension, which can mean a Defensive Driving Course in some cases. After the license suspension period has expired, it is possible to reinstate your license once you have completed specific requirements set by the Driver’s License Division.

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.


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