Drunk Driving in Connecticut FAQ
What You Need to Know About DUI/DWI in Connecticut
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At Sadler Law Group, we believe it’s important that you know what to expect before an officer pulls you over for drugged or drunk driving. Our Drunk Driving in Connecticut FAQ explains the basics. Hopefully, the information will help you avoid future drunk driving encounters.
Why do Connecticut Law Enforcement Agencies Put so Much Effort into Drunk Driving Enforcement?
Drunk Driving is a major concern in Connecticut and across the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association considers drunk driving one of the riskiest driving behaviors. Drunk drivers cause fatal accidents as they are more likely to engage in other bad driving behaviors such as speeding, distracted or drug-impaired driving.
- NHTSA’s nationwide 2018 statistics show that 10,511 people died in accidents involving drunk drivers.
- In Connecticut, drunk drivers were involved in 119 of the 249 fatal traffic accidents in the state.
- In Connecticut, 39% of all fatal accidents involved a drunk driver. Nationally, drunk drivers are involved in 29% of all fatalities.
- In 2017, 42% of all drunk driving fatalities in the country involved drivers age 16 to 24.
- For teenagers, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death. Approximately 25% of all teen crashes involve drinking drivers.
A criminal conviction remains in your public records long after you’ve complied with the terms of your sentence. It can affect your ability to get the job you want, rent an apartment, or enter the military. It becomes an obstacle to everything important you try to do.
What is Connecticut’s Drunk Driving Law?
You’ll find the state’s DUI codes under Connecticut General Statutes, Title 24, 248, §14.227. The statutes explain that it’s illegal to drive while “under the influence” of drugs or alcohol or with an “elevated” blood alcohol content. If your BAC exceeds .08% BAC, a court needs no additional proof to convict you.
For Commercial Drivers, the illegal BAC is .04%. For a driver under age 21, the illegal BAC limit .02%.
What Happens When an Officer Suspects That I’m Drunk Driving in Connecticut?
If an officer notices something erratic in your driving, he will pull you over and conduct a brief investigation to determine if you were driving under the influence. He will:
- Examine you for visible signs of alcohol or drug use
- Ask questions about your alcohol or drug use
- Look inside of your car for alcohol containers or other signs of use
- Ask to test your blood, breath or urine
- Charge you with a DUI crime
- Arrest you
- Tow and impound your vehicle
Does a Police Department Need My Consent to Test My Blood, Breath, or Urine For Alcohol or Drugs?
If you drive in Connecticut, you implicitly agree that a law enforcement officer has permission to test your blood, breath or urine. Before an officer administers a test, he must:
- Advise you of your legal rights
- Give you a chance to contact an attorney
- Explain what will happen if you refuse or fail a test
- Explain how the court may use your refusal against you during any criminal trial
What if I Refuse to Submit to an Alcohol Test?
You have the right to refuse a BAC test but a refusal triggers immediate penalties. It also generates adverse evidence that can be used against you in court. As you have a right to contact a legal representative before deciding whether or not to submit to a blood test, you should consider calling a DUI criminal defense attorney to discuss the consequences before you agree or disagree.
How Can A Connecticut Court Prosecute me For Drunk Driving If The Police Officer Didn’t Test My Blood, Breath, or Urine?
In the absence of a blood, urine or breath test, the court may still prosecute you for a DUI crime. The arresting police officer must confirm that he believed alcohol affected your driving to an “appreciable degree.”
Law enforcement officials recognize that alcohol impairment doesn’t begin at .08% BAC. A standard that recognizes an “appreciable degree” of impairment acknowledges this fact. When the NHTSA studied accidents, fatalities, and BACs, they determined that impaired driving begins at BAC levels well below the legal limit.
- .02%: Drivers begin losing judgment capabilities. Visual, cognitive, and motor functions decline.
- .05%: A driver experiences lowered inhibitions, reduced alertness and vision control, and loss of coordination.
- .08%: Drivers manifest diminished speech, vision, hearing, reaction times, and self-control. Lack of concentration, short-term memory, control, and mental processing impair driving abilities.
- .10%: A driver experiences slurred speech and slowed reaction time, coordination, and thinking. At this BAC level, drivers usually can’t stay in their lanes or brake when necessary
- .15%: A driver loses muscle control and balance. Control, task completion, hearing, and vision skills are impaired.
Can The Police Take a Blood or Urine Sample From Me if I’m Injured in an Accident?
Yes. Connecticut’s Vehicle Highway Use Code, §14-227c, explains the circumstances under which a police officer may request a blood test from an injured person.
- The officer has probable cause that you operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol
- You were charged with an accident-related motor vehicle violation and the officer has “…reasonable and articulable suspicion…” that you operated the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both.
The testing equipment and methods must be approved by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. A statute-designated medical professional must draw the blood. The Division of Scientific Services within the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection must conduct the DUI examination.
Can the Police Request a Blood Test on a Person Who Died in an Accident?
Yes. If a person dies from accident-related injuries, the Chief Medical Examiner, and others listed in the statute may order a blood sample for a DUI screening. The Division of Scientific Services within the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection or the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner must examine the sample for alcohol or drugs.
What Are the Penalties When I Refuse to Take a Test?
When a police officer reports your refusal to the DMV, the commissioner initiates a process to suspend your license for 45 days. If you are under age 21, the DMV suspension lasts 6 months. You may request an appeal hearing if you make the request within 7 days of the suspension letter mailing date.
A Skilled DUI/DWI Defense Attorney
When you require a criminal defense for drunk driving, the Sadler Law Group begins fighting for you the moment they accept your case. Our experienced legal team works hard to prevent the criminal justice system from taking over your life. We work closely with our clients so we rely on your input as we plan your defense. We begin by providing honest answers to your questions.
- What happens at an arraignment hearing?
- Will the judge release me pending my trial?
- Will I be tried before a judge or a jury?
- Can you explain how a plea deal works?
- How much jail time should I expect?
What Happens at a DMV License Suspension Hearing?
The hearing officer reviews the arresting officer’s report. You may also present your own witnesses and any additional evidence. The hearing officer then makes a determination based on the evidence and the answers to these questions.
- Did the officer have probable cause to arrest you for DUI?
- Were you arrested?
- Did you refuse to submit to a test or did a test determine that you had an “elevated” BAC?
- Were you operating a motor vehicle?
If the hearing officer determines that the answer to all of these questions is “yes,” your suspension goes into effect. The DMV penalty is the same if your blood tested at or above .08%BAC.
If you are 21 or younger and refuse a BAC test or a test confirms that you were DUI at .02% BAC, the DMV suspension lasts a minimum of 6 months. The DMV suspension period increases with each subsequent drunk driving in Connecticut event.
Can I Drive Once My DMV License Suspension Ends?
If the court doesn’t convict you of a DUI Crime and doesn’t suspend your license for an additional period, you may have your license restored when your DMV suspension ends. Before your reinstatement takes effect, you must have an ignition interlock device installed in any car you own and maintain it for a minimum of one year.
How Does an Ignition Interlock Device Work?
An ignition interlock device forces you to do a breath test each time you start your car. You blow into the device and it determines your Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC). If you fail, your car won’t start.
Some devices have cameras to identify and document the driver. The DMV requires that the installer perform a device recalibration every 30 days.
How Much Does an Ignition Interlock Device Cost?
The initial installation can cost between 50 and 150 dollars. You lease the device so you also pay a fee that varies from $60 to $100 monthly.
Can I Install an Ignition Interlock Device Myself?
No. You must have your device installed by a Connecticut approved IID vendor.
What is The DMV Process to Have My License Reinstated?
You must follow the DMV’s license restoration procedure.
- Download and complete a Device Installation Application
- Complete your portion of the application and have the approved installer complete their portion
- Submit your application to the DMV with a $175 restoration fee and a $100 administration fee
- Make sure you clear up any other suspension issues
What Happens With My DUI Court Case?
The Connecticut Superior Court located in the Geographical Area where you were arrested will prosecute your criminal case. You will have an initial hearing where you must appear or risk additional charges and penalties. The court will read the formal charges against you and give you an opportunity to plead:
- Not guilty
- Guilty under the Alford Doctrine: You aren’t guilty but you accept that the court will likely convict you.
- Nolle Contentendere: You don’t contest the state’s evidence and accept the judge’s findings.
Do I Have Other Options For Resolving My Case?
Depending on the circumstances, defense attorneys sometimes arrange to have charges or penalties reduced during pre-trial hearings or out of court negotiations. Your attorney might be able to convince the State’s Attorney to dismiss your case if the officer didn’t have probable cause to stop you or the evidence is insubstantial.
If I’m Convicted of a DUI Crime, What Are The Possible Penalties
Penalties for all DUI convictions include license suspensions, fines, mandatory ignition interlock devices, mandatory minimum jail time, and probation with community service.
- First Offense: Imprisonment, up to 6 months; fine, $500 to $1,000, probation and community service; license suspension, 45 days; ignition interlock device, 1 year. For more information about first-time DUI criminal charges, read the “The Possible Consequences of Your First DUI/DWI Conviction.”
- Second Offense: Imprisonment, up to 2 years; Fine, $1,000 to $4,000, probation and community service; license suspension, 45 days or until age 21; ignition interlock device, 3 years; driving limited to work, school, and treatment programs for the first year
- Third Offense: Imprisonment, up to 3 years; fine, $2,000 to $8,000, probation and community service; permanent license revocation. An offender may apply for reinstatement after two years and must always drive with an IID.
- Enhanced Penalties: Penalties are increased when drivers are convicted of a DUI offense under certain circumstances. These include persistent DUI offenders, offenders with BAC in excess of .16%, drivers convicted of 2nd-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle or 2nd-degree assault with a motor vehicle, drivers with child passengers, and drivers operating a School Bus while under the influence.
Does the Court Consider My DMV Suspension If They Convict me of a DUI Crime?
No. A DMV suspension is separate from any court penalties for a DUI conviction. It doesn’t reduce or change any court-ordered suspensions.
What is the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program?
CGS § 54-56g establishes a program where certain DUI offenders may postpone their criminal process while they participate in a deterrence program. The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) and the Court Support Services Division (CSSD) run the program. The court considers dismissing your DUI charge if you comply with the program requirements
- Evaluation and treatment
- Pay $350 to $500 in program fees
- 10 to 15 counseling sessions in an alcohol treatment program or 12 sessions in a substance abuse treatment program
- Agree to participate in a court-ordered victim impact panel
- After one year, the court reexamines your case. They may dismiss your pending DUI charge if you encounter no additional legal problems and complete the program successfully.
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We Customize Your Defense Strategy
At the Sadler Law Group, we believe that every accused individual deserves a strong defense. We provide the best possible criminal defense for drunk driving in Connecticut because we understand how the local justice system works.
Our defense recommendations sometimes include plea deals or other defense options that minimize the potential for drastic legal consequences. We consult with you as we plan a customized strategy that includes multiple considerations.
- Evidence: We assess the prosecutor’s case and dispute unreliable, illegal, or irrelevant evidence.
- Connecticut General Statutes: Our understanding of criminal statutes gives us an edge in pushing for a dismissal of invalid charges.
- Defenses: We identify and assert affirmative defenses that can help us secure a dismissal or reduction of the criminal charges.
- Reasonable doubt: We look for evidence that confirms doubt about the legitimacy of a charge.
- Probable cause: We determine if the police officer had a legitimate reason to stop you.
Criminal Drunk Driving Defense Attorney
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI or DWI crime in Lower Housatonic Valley, Connecticut, you must take immediate steps to initiate your defense. Contact the Sadler Law Group. We’ll construct a strong customized defense to protect your rights. Call us at (203) 951-1360 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.
Servicing the Lower Housatonic Valley
Sadler Law Group services clients in courts throughout Connecticut. Our main office is located in Milford CT which can provide you with quick in-person consultations for the towns in the Lower Housatonic valley. Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Derby, Orange, Oxford, Seymour, Shelton, Milford, West Haven and Shelton, Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford, and Trumbull.
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