Town and traffic court cases aren’t actually criminal matters—so how do you appeal the result? Attorney Marc Lopez turned to Attorney Matt Kroes for an explanation. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of their conversation.
Matt—you’re in Hamilton County on a last-minute hire, so we’re going to do this on the fly. You’ve had a crazy week, man. What have you been up to?
Hey, Well, we had a trial a couple of weeks ago where a truck driver was alleged to have consumed some alcohol. It wasn’t a DUI, but we had an infraction trial in traffic court, and the judge ended up finding against our client.
So I’ve been spending a lot of time on this, and we’re actually appealing that verdict into Hendricks County Superior Court.
This is a wild case. Our client had a little bit of alcohol on his breath, and the trooper was like, Well, it’s not a DUI, but there’s a law for truck drivers . . .
It’s almost a zero-tolerance law—so even though it’s not a DUI charge, our client was still facing an infraction that could end his trucking career. So we found a way to exclude the breath test ticket and took it to trial. And guess what? The judge said, Sorry, but the breath test ticket comes in.
So, Matt—when you lose at the town court or traffic court level, what are your options?
If you lose at a town or traffic court level, it’s technically not a court of record. It’s officially a civil case, so we can’t go directly to the Court of Appeals like we can with a criminal matter. We have to request a trial de novo in a circuit or superior court, and because this incident occurred in Hendricks County, we had to file for a new trial in Hendricks.
I don’t know if we’ll have a new prosecutor yet, but we’re going to have a different judge, and our guy’s going to get another shot at this.
It’s been a few years since my last trial de novo and I’m so excited that you’re able to handle these. It’s always good to know your options, and we will keep everybody updated on this CDL breath test issue. Good luck, Matt, and tell everyone we said, Hi!
Sure will, man. Take care. Have a great weekend.