DUI Laws in Connecticut
If you have been charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) in Connecticut having an attorney who is experienced in the process of minimizing the consequences and protecting your driver’s license is critical. A DUI charge essentially overlaps the criminal defense process with a separate DMV hearing that determines how long your license will be suspended. To effectively defend both your rights in the criminal case and your driver’s license, you need an experienced Connecticut DUI lawyer who is familiar with both processes.
Connecticut DUI Basics
Driving under the influence can often easily be prosecuted as the law in Connecticut states that any individual who decides to drive must consent to chemical testing. Chemical testing includes breath, blood, and urine testing for blood alcohol content levels. Those who are under the age of twenty-one give chemical testing consent through their parents or guardians. In both these circumstances consent is implied.
Important: Regardless of when your court date for the DUI was scheduled, you need to apply for a DMV hearing as soon as possible if you wish to fight the charges and prevent your license from being suspended.
In order for consent to actually be implied a police officer will, upon arrest and prior to testing administration, notify the individual of his or her rights under the United States Constitution, allow the individual to call his or her attorney, notify the individual that his or her driver’s license will be suspended on test refusal, and notify the individual that testing refusal will most likely be used for further prosecution. Driver’s license suspension for refusal can be as much as six months.
Possible Defenses to DUI Charges
Every DUI case is made up of a set of facts that are much bigger than the result the police obtained from a breathalyzer test. A few possible defenses to a DUI charge may include:
Search / Seizure Laws – Constitutional Violations
While Connecticut does have an implied consent law requiring drivers to submit to sobriety testing, that does not mean that the police and highway patrol are allowed to pull you over or unnecessarily detain you. If the officer did not have the right to pull you over in the first place, any evidence gathered after that point can not be used against you.
The Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Was Incorrect
There have been DUI cases where the BAC results from the blood or breath test have been questioned. Some of the questions around BAC testing evidence include:
- Was the machine used to test your BAC properly maintained and calibrated?
- Was the sample used collected correctly by a qualified person?
- Was the evidence preserved correctly so as to ensure an accurate test result?
There are many different variables in each DUI case. My job as your DUI defense lawyer is to ensure that we examine each element of the entire process; from the initial pull-over to the officer’s questioning, to the preliminary testing to what happened during and after the arrest. You’re only guilty if the prosecution can prove you are guilty. Having a lawyer on your side helps protect that from happening, or can minimize the consequences if you are found guilty or the facts around your case suggest that you will be found guilty.
Connecticut DUI Prosecution
The state has the right to prosecute an individual even if no blood alcohol content level has been obtained. This can be done through proof of impairment. Connecticut law states that a DUI conviction can be made on the grounds that an individual was too impaired to operate a motor vehicle. The prosecution will present evidence to the court outlining how the individual was impaired.
Evidence can include a record of the individual’s personal appearance, field sobriety testing, and driving patterns. If the individual has refused to take a blood alcohol content test the court infers that he or she is guilty. If a blood alcohol content test was taken, this can also act as evidence for the prosecution but will not always act as an indicator of impairment. An individual may have a blood alcohol content level above the legal limit and he or she can still not be considered impaired.
Driving under the influence charges can also be prosecuted through per se law. Under per se law the prosecution will not attempt to prove an individual was impaired, instead, he or she will seek to prove that the individual’s blood alcohol content percentage was above the legal limit. Under per se laws an individual will almost always be convicted of driving under the influence if his or her blood alcohol content was at 0.08 percent or over. Physical impairment and sobriety tests will not be necessary for the prosecution.
Connecticut DUI Penalties
Penalties in Connecticut depend on the number of prior incidents and the circumstances of the offense. If a child was in the car when the arrest was made the penalty will increase severely, without considering the number of prior offenses. A first-time DUI conviction will earn a fine between five hundred and one thousand dollars, incarceration between forty-eight hours and six months, driver’s license suspension for one year, and community service for one hundred hours.
A second offense will earn a fine between one thousand and four thousand dollars, incarceration between one hundred twenty days and two years, one hundred hours of community service, and three years of driver’s license suspension. A third offense will earn a fine between two thousand and eight thousand dollars, incarceration between one year and three years, one hundred hours of community service, and permanent license suspension. Minors are often prosecuted the same as adults.
Why You Should Fight Your Connecticut DUI Charge
It’s common for people who have been charged with a DUI to believe there is no hope in fighting the charges. They know that they were drinking, and they were pulled over and arrested, so they must be guilty. No matter what the conditions around your DUI arrest one thing remains true: it is the state’s duty to prove that you were over the legal limit and in control of the motor vehicle. An experienced DUI attorney can attempt to find potential weaknesses in the case against you and work to either secure an agreement for a lessened sentence or a dismissal of the case against you.