Appealing a DUI Conviction
The State of Washington has strict driving under the influence (DUI) laws. If someone is convicted of a DUI, it should be assumed that the penalties will be harsh.
This is why if someone believes he or she has been wrongfully convicted of a DUI, it is important that that person files an appeal as soon as possible. Filing an appeal is not an easy process and the deadline is strict, which means an attorney needs to be retained as soon as possible.
One reason an individual who is wrongfully convicted of a DUI may want to appeal that conviction is the fact that, if a later conviction is received, the penalties become more and more extreme.
In the State of Washington, a driver who operates a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher can be found guilty of a DUI. The percentage starts at 0.02 for drivers under the age of 21 and 0.04 for truck drivers.
The penalties for DUI offenses are as follows:
- First DUI: If convicted, the maximum penalty is up to 364 days in jail and pay up to $5,000 in fines, can have his or her driving privileges suspended anywhere between 90 days and one year, and may be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on their vehicle;
- Second DUI in 7 years: If this is a second DUI in 7 years, there is a minimum penalty of 30 days mandatory in jail AND 60 days of mandatory electronic home monitoring (EHM) for a DUI with a BAC of below.15, for a DUI with a BAC above .15 there is a minimum penalty of 45 days mandatory in jail AND 90 days of mandatory electronic home monitoring, the fine can be up to $5,000, installation of an IID will be required, and a license suspension period of up to 900 days;
- Third DUI in 7 years: If this is a third DUI in 7 years, there is a minimum of 90 days in jail AND 120 days EHM for a BAC of below .15, and if the BAC is above .15 it is a minimum of 120 days in jail AND 150 days of EHM, up to $5,000 in fines, a mandatory IID installation and potentially a 10 year license restriction by the Department of Licensing.
Depending on the facts surrounding the stop, the arrest and the case in general, there could be factors that merit an appeal or post-judgment motion. If that is the case, it is important that the convicted individual contact an attorney immediately.
Right to Appeal
If someone has been convicted of a crime in either state or federal court, that person has the right to appeal the conviction.
To appeal a state misdemeanor conviction, an appeal will need to be filed in the Superior Court of the county where the case was heard. To appeal a federal conviction, this appeal will need to be filed in the United States Court of Appeals.
Appealing the Conviction Versus Appealing the License Suspension
Two different appeals options exist when it comes to a DUI case. Appealing a DUI conviction is a different process from appealing the license suspension decided by the state’s Department of Licensing (DOL). An attorney can assist the individual in both appeals, but they do require two different procedures.
How Does an Appeal Work?
An appeal is the procedure where a party who receives an unfavorable verdict in trial court can have a court review the original trial court’s decision. The appeal is a review of the evidence and the court’s decision based on that evidence, but in a higher court. An appeal is not a retrial of all the evidence. The appeal can be based on a procedural error made in court, but also substantive issues based on the law. An appeal must be made from a final judgment, and it is a highly technical process.
Very few pro se litigants are able to handle an appeal on their own so an attorney should be consulted if an appeal is being considered.
To file an appeal, the individual must file a notice of appeal and must pay the required fees. The appealing party will need to designate what records need to be reviewed by the court and will need to pay for the transcripts to produce these records.
Both sides will have a chance to prepare briefs in support of their arguments. Once all briefs have been received, the court will allow for oral arguments. Following consideration of all briefs and arguments, the appeals court will issue its written opinion.
If the individual gets an unfavorable opinion from the appeals court, at that point he or she may have limited options.
Normally, the appellate court, which would be the next step in the court hierarchy, would review the superior court’s opinion. After that, a person can appeal the matter to the State Supreme Court which only reviews select cases and issues. Normally, the supreme court will limit its review to important questions of law or to set a precedent if different courts of appeals are ruling inconsistently.