Connecticut DUI Defense

Connecticut DUI
Defense Attorney


Case Review

Being charged with a DUI in Connecticut is a frightening experience.

In one night, your whole life can change. Suddenly you are facing a court appearance, a fight to save your suspended driver’s license and the embarrassment and shame that goes with being accused of a crime. All at once your life seems out of control. Unfortunately, a DUI arrest usually is compounded with other family and personal issues, and it may seem overwhelming at times. That is where we come in.

At Ruane Attorneys, our lawyers and staff are trained in the defense of Connecticut DUI cases. We have a reputation for fighting for our clients and winning the tough cases all over Connecticut.

 At Ruane Attorneys, our lawyers and staff are trained in the defense of Connecticut DUI cases. We have a reputation for fighting for our clients and winning the tough cases all over Connecticut. By putting our team to work for you, we can take on the stress of the court and DMV fight, and allow you to fix the other parts in your life. At Ruane Attorneys, we put our years of experience in handling DUI cases to work for you to achieve outstanding results when others say there is no hope. We have successfully represented people who have admitted they had been drinking, had open containers of alcohol in their car, and have had serious accidents. With our firm on your side, no case is a lost cause. We strive to find defenses that other lawyers miss. Each year, hundreds of people charged with DUI call Ruane Attorneys for advice on how to defend themselves.Even police officers and prosecutors call us when they are facing a DUI charge. We never charge for a consultation, so contact us today to get answers to your questions.

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Attorney Jay Ruane

 

Frequently Asked Connecticut DUI Questions

What if I get arrested in CT and live out of state?

You can take classes out of state as long as your lawyer gets you that permission from the Court and the Bail Commissioner OKs the program. Here is a link to find programs near you: Find Treatment Here

What happens when I get a DUI in CT?

Two things: One, you have to go to the Connecticut Superior Court in the Geographic Area where you were arrested and defend the DUI charge in Court. Two, you will receive a suspension notice from the DMV and You have to schedule a hearing challenging the suspension.

What happens if I do not schedule a DMV hearing?

Your CT driver’s license or privilege to drive in CT will be suspended as stated in the suspension notice.

What happens when I schedule the DMV hearing?

You will receive written notification of the date and time to be present for Your DMV hearing. This is called the Administrative Per Se hearing. On that date and time, you will meet with a DMV hearing officer. These hearing officers are attorneys engaged in private practice, who represent The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. They are highly skilled in this Area of the law. You will put on your case at this administrative hearing, in an attempt, to have your license restored.

If I win at the Administrative Per Se Hearing, do the court charges go away?

No. One has nothing to do with the other. The Courts have ruled on this. There is no double jeopardy. The DMV matter is an Administrative matter while the Court matter is a Criminal matter.

If I suffer a license suspension either from the DMV, the court or both, how can I get to work?

You may be entitled to a Special Driving Permit for this purpose. However, if you have a previous alcohol related suspension, you may not qualify. You fill out the proper form and submit it to DMV Driver Services Division. They will review your Driver History and determine if you are eligible.

Doesn’t the DMV or the court care about me supporting my family if I cannot drive or am in jail?

It isn’t that these people do not care. They are enforcing the laws passed by the Connecticut Legislature and doing what they have to do. Remember, the Legislature passes the laws that Judges, Prosecutors and the Police have to enforce. We have to live within the rule of law. Sometimes, we may all agree that the penalties are too stiff, but that is as far as it goes.

What is the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol in Connecticut?

The legal limit under Connecticut DUI law is .08 BAC (blood alcohol content). Connecticut laws establish that to Operate While Under the Influence (OWI) with a BAC of .08 or higher is “per se” against the law. Simply driving while your blood has over .08% alcohol is illegal.

Does Connecticut have additional penalties for DUI/DWI charges with a high BAC result?

Yes. A high BAC of .16 or above, or twice the legal limit of .08 will result in stricter penalties for refusing to take a breath test/breathalyzer, or other chemical BAC analysis.

What are the laws for a DUI in Connecticut if you are under 21 years of age?

If you are under 21, Connecticut has what is called a zero tolerance policy for driving after drinking alcohol. The legal limit for alcohol is .02 BAC, which can be as little as 1 drink. If you are charged with a DUI, your license will be immediately suspended for 90 days for a first offense.

What is the Alcohol Education Program (AEP)?

This is a diversionary program that results in the Criminal Drunk Driving Charge being dismissed provided you qualify for the program and complete the course you are offered. There is an application fee of $200.00. The Court, if you qualify, will order you to take either 10 or 15 sessions of this educational program. The added cost for the 10 session program is $350.00 and for the 15 sessions it is $500.00.

How do I qualify for the AEP program?

You make the application to the Court. You will be placed under oath, by the Clerk, and the Judge will ask you several questions. If you answer that you have never been convicted of the crime of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in Connecticut, or any other state, and you have not had the AEP in Connecticut or any other state within the past 10 years, you are qualified. Then the Adult Probation Department will check your criminal and driver history to verify the accuracy of your answers. Remember, when you respond to the Judge’s questions you are answering under the penalty of perjury. Some attorneys will tell you that if your conviction for a drunk driving offense is over 10 years old, that you qualify for the AEP program. This is not accurate. If you have a conviction for drunk driving, then you do not qualify for the AEP.

What happens if I do not complete the AEP program?

The simple answer is that you will be brought back into Court, and at that point, the Judge can order you treated as a First Offender, which means that you are facing jail, fine and probation, along with a lost of license for 1 year. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO COMPLETE THE COURSE. However, in some instances and for good cause shown, the Court may re-instate you into the AEP and give you a certain amount of time to complete it. Remember, when you go on this program, document all that you do, in case a problem arises such as missing a class or having a falling out with the program director or the teacher. When there is a problem, you should contact your lawyer.
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Connecticut Court Procedure Information

After your arrest, the police will issue you a summons to appear in court. You may be required to post a bond to be released. The police may also release you on a written promise to appear. Both will inform you of the date of your mandatory court appearance. Failing to appear in court may result in the State charging you with the crime of Failure to Appear. Even the lowest charge of Failure to Appear carries the potential penalty of one year in jail and/or a $2000 fine. Initially, your case will appear on the “regular” docket. This is the docket to which all new cases are assigned. A case will likely be maintained on the regular docket for the first few court appearances and in certain situations, your case can be resolved while on this docket. Some courts allow the attorney to appear on your behalf, while others require the appearance of the client. Failure to be in court can result in …

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forfeiture of your bond and a warrant being issued for you for the crime of Failure to Appear. Over the next few court appearances, the prosecution and your defense lawyer discuss the merits of your defenses, however these discussions are conducted in private. One of the main reasons for this practice is that any information, when discussed in private, cannot be used in the prosecution of the case. If the discussions were conducted in open court, there would be witnesses who could be called to testify about the case. It serves your benefit to allow this to happen. If the discussions with the prosecutor and your attorney do not yield a satisfactory disposition, the matter will be set down for a judicial pretrial. Most courts have a judge who controls the criminal docket. This judge is called the “presiding judge.” This judge will sit as the final arbiter of the matter before it is determined that the case cannot be resolved without a trial. After a judicial pretrial, the Court will make an offer to resolve the case after hearing from the prosecution and the defense lawyer. The sides often propose different disposition possibilities and the judge listens to both sides to see what is a reasonable disposition given the legal and factual claims both sides make. If you, your attorney and the State agree on a disposition of the case you may be required to do a number of different things. Some of these things involve paying a fine, completing alcohol counseling or complying with probation. If you plead guilty to a crime, which may be punishable by some period of jail time, the judge must ask you a series of questions to determine if you are knowingly and voluntarily pleading to the charges. The judge must also agree to give you the disposition that you agreed upon, and even if the judge does not approve, the judge must allow you to withdraw your plea.

If the case cannot be resolved without a trial, both attorneys are then given an opportunity to file motions. Motions, simply put, are “requests” that are made of the court to grant some type of “relief.” This “relief” is usually asking that some part of the State’s evidence be excluded from trial when the case goes to court. Attorneys may seek to exclude a breath or blood test result, field evaluations or a custodial statement made by you after your detention, but before the Miranda advisement (i.e. “You have the right to an attorney; you have the right to remain silent,” etc).

In addition, your attorney will make a motion for the prosecutor to send him or her the “discovery” in your case. Discovery is a generic term that relates to production of evidence that the state intends to present against you in court. An example of “discovery” is a list of the State’s witnesses against you, plus information on how to locate them. Obtaining discovery allows your attorney to be as fully prepared as possible when we enter court so that there won’t be surprises. One of the key aspects of discovery may be a videotape of your arrest, either at the scene, in the station or both. Most prosecutors’ offices in Connecticut follow an “open file” policy from the beginning of the case which allows your attorney to view the police report (some will allow a copy, while others only allow notes to be taken).

Your attorney will then be given oral argument of these motions, which is an important step as it sometimes allows your attorney to attack various aspects of the State’s case prior to trial. The elimination of harmful evidence is the primary purpose and goal of “motions.” There will be no jury involved at the motions hearing, but rather, at a typical motions hearing the judge, your attorney, the prosecutor, the State’s witness (the arresting officer) and yourself would be present. The judge will hear motions and argument from both sides, then grant or deny the motions, however most judges refuse to hear motions until the day of trial. This practice is not as desirable for you for many reasons, the two most important of which is that it limits your attorney’s time to obtain a transcript of important testimony of the State’s witnesses (commonly used for “impeachment”), and your attorney will have to prepare for both motions and trial, thereby costing a larger attorney fee.

Following the motions hearing is the trial, which can be either a jury trial (a 6-person jury is used in misdemeanor cases) or a bench trial (heard only by the judge). If the case is set down for a trial, there will be a day when you and your attorney will be summoned to begin “jury selection” or “voir dire.” In Connecticut, our Constitution allows for your defense attorney to question each independent potential juror about their knowledge of the case, the witnesses and there general outlook on life. During this phase, your attorney tries to find the best possible candidates to sit on a jury and side with you. At the same time, the state attorney is looking to find the best possible jurors who will convict you. Depending on the exact charges against you, your lawyer and the state will each have a certain number of “challenges” which allows them to get rid of a potential jurors without having a reason. If your attorney or the State attorney tries to exclude a particular gender or race, however, the judge can stop them if the other side points it out.
Unlike on TV and in the movies, in Connecticut there are not long opening statements. In fact, unless there are unusual circumstances and a judge has approved them, there will be no opening statement in your case. The prosecutor will call the first witness for the state, which is usually the police officer. After the state has asked questions of the first witness, your defense lawyer will be allowed to “cross examine” the witness and this continues until the state has no more witnesses to call.

According to the federal and state constitution, the defense does not have a burden to introduce any evidence. If the defense chooses not to do so, the sides would then make their closing arguments. However most of the time, the defense will call witnesses of their own, at which point the defense attorney will ask questions, and the prosecution will have a chance to cross-examine. After the defense has finished, the State then has a chance to bring in witnesses if they can rebut the evidence of the defense witnesses. If they do not call any, the case proceeds with closing arguments.

During closing arguments, both sides try to convince the jury to either find you guilty or not guilty (depending on the attorney). After closing arguments, the Judge will instruct the jury on the law of the case, and how it is to be applied. Once that is done, the jury is sent to the jury room to deliberate. They elect a foreperson, and discuss the case until the have reached a unanimous verdict, which means that all of the jurors must be in agreement on the verdict. Once a decision has been made, the jury sends a note to the judge in order tell the court that they have come to a decision.

If they cannot agree, the judge may tell them to deliberate again, however if they decide that an unanimous decision cannot be found, the judge declares a mistrial. If the jury can agree, the judge then brings the jury into the courtroom and the clerk of the court asks the foreperson what the verdict is. If the jury finds you “not guilty” then the case is over. If the jury finds that you are guilty, the case will then continue on to sentencing phase.
When appearing for sentencing, which may happen the same day if the case is a misdemeanor, the judge may sentence you to the maximum period of jail time allowable for the crime. Oftentimes prior to sentencing, the judge will order the Probation department to conduct a pre-sentence investigation and report, which serves to provide the judge with a better understanding of whom you are as a person. The probation department may suggest a certain way for the judge to structure the sentence or certain things to include (community service, counseling), however the judge ultimately decides the sentence.

If you are convicted, you are permitted to an appeal, but you must hire a lawyer to represent you for this new phase, which unfortunately is normally a separate fee from your trial fee for your trial lawyer. Many times people simply hire the trial lawyer for the appeal because he or she already has knowledge of the case and has conducted research on the exact issues that will be appealed. The appeal only deals with legal issues, not factual issues, so it is not a retrial. Your lawyer then will review the court transcript to find questionable issues, such as the inclusion of improper evidence by the state or incorrect instruction on the law to the jury by the judge. The appeal is filed within a few months and then the State is given time to file a brief in opposition. The case is then argued in front of a panel of 3 judges in Hartford, in which witnesses are not presented and a time limit is instituted for both sides. After the case is argued, the judges release a written decision, which either affirms the guilty verdict, or reverses the decision and a retrial begins. In rare circumstances, the reversal will complete the case and there will not be a retrial. If the original decision is affirmed however, your lawyer may appeal for review by the Supreme Court.

 

Connecticut Work Permit Information

Connecticut provides for the ability to apply for a special permit to be able to drive an automobile even in the event of losing your license from a DUI conviction. Ruane Attorneys can help you in the process in securing an approval for your application for a Driving Permit.

Permit Information

Work Permit Regulation – Sec. 14-37a. Special operator’s permit for employment purposes. (a) Any person whose operator’s license has been suspended pursuant to any provision of this chapter or chapter 248, except pursuant to section 14-215 for operating under suspension or pursuant to section 14-140 for failure to appear for trial, may make application to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles for a special permit to operate a motor vehicle to and from such person’s place of employment or, if such person is not employed at a fixed location, to operate a motor vehicle only in connection with, and to the extent necessary, to properly perform such person’s business or profession. Special Operator’s Permits are subject to strict standards for approval and use. Misuse of a permit or receipt of a traffic citation, leading to license suspension while operating under a permit, may result in substantially enhanced penalties. Work permit- Application

 

 

School Permit Regulation – A Special Operator’s Permit for Higher Education may be used to travel to and from classes at accredited institutions of higher education. You must also provide a certified copy of your class and examination schedule clearly identifying the days, hours and geographic locations of your classes. A copy of a completed release under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy must also be submitted. School Permit – Application

Connecticut DUI Penalty Information

First Offense

(1) For conviction of a first violation, (A) be fined not less than five hundred dollars or more than one thousand dollars, and (B) be (i) imprisoned not more than six months, forty-eight consecutive hours of which may not be suspended or reduced in any manner, or (ii) imprisoned not more than six months, with the execution of such sentence of imprisonment suspended entirely and a period of probation imposed requiring as a condition of such probation that such person perform one hundred hours of community service, as defined in section 14-227e, and (C) have such person’s motor vehicle operator’s license or nonresident operating privilege suspended for one year;

Second Offense

for conviction of a second violation within ten years after a prior conviction for the same offense, (A) be fined not less than one thousand dollars or more than four thousand dollars, (B) be imprisoned not more than two years, one hundred twenty consecutive days of which may not be suspended or reduced in any manner, and sentenced to a period of probation requiring as a condition of such probation that such person perform one hundred hours of community service, as defined in section 14-227e, and (C) (i) have such person’s motor vehicle operator’s license or nonresident operating privilege suspended for three years or until the date of such person’s twenty-first birthday, whichever is longer, or (ii) if such person has been convicted of a violation of subdivision (1) of subsection (a) of this section on account of being under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of this section, have such person’s motor vehicle operator’s license or nonresident operating privilege suspended for one year and be prohibited for the two-year period following completion of such period of suspension from operating a motor vehicle unless such motor vehicle is equipped with a functioning, approved ignition interlock device, as defined in section 14-227j;

Third Offense

For conviction of a third and subsequent violation within ten years after a prior conviction for the same offense, (A) be fined not less than two thousand dollars or more than eight thousand dollars, (B) be imprisoned not more than three years, one year of which may not be suspended or reduced in any manner, and sentenced to a period of probation requiring as a condition of such probation that such person perform one hundred hours of community service, as defined in section 14-227e, and (C) have such person’s motor vehicle operator’s license or nonresident operating privilege permanently revoked upon such third offense. For purposes of the imposition of penalties for a second or third and subsequent offense pursuant to this subsection, a conviction under the provisions of subsection (a) of this section in effect on October 1, 1981, or as amended thereafter, a conviction under the provisions of either subdivision (1) or (2) of subsection (a) of this section, a conviction under the provisions of section 53a-56b or 53a-60d or a conviction in any other state of any offense the essential elements of which are determined by the court to be substantially the same as subdivision (1) or (2) of subsection (a) of this section or section 53a-56b or 53a-60d, shall constitute a prior conviction for the same offense.