Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal throughout the United States. Due to the potential consequences of drunk driving, DUI penalties generally tend to be serious, even for first time offenders. DUI arrests and convictions also tend to be very expensive in an effort to deter drivers from driving drunk or buzzed. Penalties for DUI often include high fines, and if the driver loses his or her license, it may affect employment opportunities or interfere with existing work responsibilities. A DUI conviction could also lead to higher insurance premiums.
Connecticut Law on Drunk Driving
The Connecticut law on drunk driving prohibits drivers from driving after drinking beyond a certain level, taking drugs, or after having used a combination of both drugs and alcohol. In addition, a person can be arrested for DUI if his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or 0.04 for commercial drivers. Police officers use chemical and standard field sobriety tests to confirm the presence of drugs or alcohol, and to determine a driver’s level of intoxication.
While a driver may refuse testing for drugs or alcohol when he or she is arrested for DUI, bear in mind that a refusal comes with consequences. If a driver operates a car in the state of Connecticut, the law assumes that the driver has consented to chemical testing of his or her blood, breath, or urine for drugs or alcohol. For minors, the parents are deemed to have given consent to testing. This is generally referred to as implied consent to testing.
The officer who requests that a driver submit to the test has to inform the driver that he or she may consult with an attorney before submitting to the test. The officer also has to warn the driver that the consequences of refusal are immediate license suspension. In addition, when a driver refuses to have a chemical test in relation to a DUI arrest, the prosecution can use the refusal against the driver in court. However, a driver can refuse the blood test, and opt for one of the other two tests as chosen by the arresting officer.
People convicted of DUI for the first time can be fined between $500 and $1,000 in fines, and can be imprisoned for up to six months. A first-time offender will also have his or her driver’s license suspended for a year. If convicted of a second offense within 10 years of the first conviction, a person can be fined between $1,000 and $4,000, and be imprisoned for up to two years. The second-time offender’s license is also suspended for one year. After the year’s suspension, for a two-year period, the driver’s car has to be fitted with an interlock device that prohibits a driver from starting the car while intoxicated. For subsequent convictions, the fines increase, and the driver can go to prison for up to three years. The driver also has his or her license revoked permanently.
The consequences are serious, but with the help of an experienced legal professional, you may be able to beat the charges or lower the potential penalties. For example, if you are a first-time offender (no prior arrests or convictions for DUI in a 10 year period) then you may be eligible for a Pretrial Diversionary Program through the court. Your attorney may be able to get you admitted into the Alcohol Education Program (AEP); this unique Connecticut program consists of weekly classes (alcohol counseling) over a period of ten to fifteen weeks. After successfully completing the AEP (and after attending a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact panel) the DUI charge will be “Dismissed.” Importantly, admittance into the program is not automatically granted to first time offenders. There is an application hearing, screening process, and hearing in front of a Superior Court Judge to determine eligibility.
Contact a Connecticut DUI Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for DUI, or have had your license suspended due to refusing to take a DUI test, you need an experienced Hartford criminal law attorney. Contact a lawyer from the Woolf Law Firm, LLC immediately for a consultation on your case.