Frequently Asked Connecticut DUI Questions

Frequently Asked Connecticut DUI Questions

It is natural to have questions when you or a loved one is facing  a DUI charge.  At Ruane Attorneys, we strive to answer all of your questions so that you can understand all of the aspects of the Court and Motor Vehicle process. If you have a question that is not answered below, PLEASE feel free to contact our office. Facing a DUI charge in Connecticut can be intimidating, Ruane Attorneys can help. If you are facing a DUI charge, hire an attorney that regularly handles DUI cases.

 

Most Common Questions about DUI in Connecticut

What if I’m arrested in Connecticut and I live out of state? 

As long as your lawyer gets permission from the court and the bail commissioner, you will be allowed to take classes out of state. The court and bail commissioner will have to approve the program you choose. Here is a link to find programs near you: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/list_search.htm

What happens if I get a DUI in the state of Connecticut? 

First of all, you must to go to the Connecticut Superior Court in the Geographic Area (G.A.) where you were arrested in order to defend the DUI. Secondly, you will receive a suspension notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and you have to schedule a hearing with the DMV to challenge this suspension.

What happens if I don’t schedule a DMV hearing?

If you fail to schedule a DMV hearing, your driver’s license in the state of Connecticut will be suspended as stated in the suspension notice.

What happens when I do schedule the DMV hearing?

When you schedule your DMV hearing, you will get notification of the time and date of your DMV hearing. This hearing is referred to as an administrative per se hearing. On the date of this hearing, you should meet with the DMV hearing officer. The hearing officer will be a private practice attorney representing the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. These hearing officers are highly trained in DUI law. At your DMV hearing, you will have to prove why your license should be restored.

If I win my Administrative Per Se Hearing, will my court charges go away?

Contrary to popular belief, winning the administrative hearing will not make your court charges go away. This is because these hearings are completely separate of one another. The Courts have ruled on this, and there is no double jeopardy in this case. The DMV matter is an administrative matter while the court matter is a criminal matter.

If I suffer a license suspension from the DMV, the court or both, how will I get to work?
Some people who get suspended licenses are entitled to a special driving permit for the purpose of getting to work or school. It is important to keep in mind that if you have a previous alcohol related suspension, you may not qualify. You should fill out the proper form and submit it to DMV Driver Services Division. This division will review your driver history and determine if you are eligible.

Doesn’t the DMV or the court care about my ability to support my family if I’m unable to drive or if I have to go to jail?
It isn’t that these people do not care, but they have to enforce the laws that have been passed by the Connecticut Legislature. Remember that the Legislature passes the laws that Judges, Prosecutors and the Police have to enforce. We have to live within the rule of Connecticut law. Sometimes we might all agree that the penalties are too stiff, but that doesn’t change them.

If I disagree with the Administrative Per Se Hearing decision, can I appeal it?
Yes! Find out more information on appealing the administrative hearing by contacting our office.

What is the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol in the state of Connecticut?
The current legal limit under Connecticut DUI law is .08 BAC (blood alcohol content). Connecticut law establishes that to operate while under the influence (OWI) with a BAC of .08 or higher is “per se” against the law.

Does Connecticut have additional penalties for DUI/DWI charges with a BAC result higher than .08?
A high BAC of .16 or above, is considered a more serious penalty, and it will result in more severe penalties. In addition, you face more severe penalties if you refuse to take the breath test or a chemical BAC test.

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

The state of Connecticut has a zero tolerance policy for people under 21 year of age caught drinking and driving. This means that any trace of alcohol in the system of someone under 21 will result in a DUI charge.

What is the Alcohol Education Program (AEP)?

The AEP is a diversionary program in which you can have your criminal drunk driving charge dismissed so long as you attend and complete alcohol education classes. The Court, if you qualify, will order you to take either 10 or 15 sessions of this educational program. In order to qualify, you must be a first offender. The cost of the program is $200, and there are added costs depending on which program you go to. The added cost for the 10 session program is $350.00 and $500.00 for the 15 session program.

How do I qualify for the AEP program?
You have to apply with the court to see if you qualify for the AEP program. The clerk will place you under oath and the judge will ask you questions related to your criminal history. If you have not been convicted of a DUI in Connecticut or any other state, and if you have not used an AEP program in Connecticut or any other state in the past 10 years, you will qualify for the program. Any conviction of a DUI, even if it was more than 10 years ago, will disqualify you for the AEP program.

What happens once I complete the AEP program?
When you successfully complete the AEP program, your case will be dismissed one year from the date that the judge granted your application for the AEP program.

What happens if I don’t complete the AEP program?
Failure to complete the AEP program will result in your case being brought back to court. A judge can order that you are treated as a first time DUI offender, and you will face all of the criminal punishments of a first time offender, including jail time, probation, fines, and a license suspension. It is your responsibility to complete the AEP program, however, there are some instances where the court will reinstate you in an AEP and give you more time to complete it. To avoid potential problems with the AEP program, document everything that you do while in the program. If you have to miss a class or have an issue with your instructor, you should contact your lawyer.

When I’m placed on the AEP program and my case is dismissed, do I have a Drunk Driving Conviction on my record?

No – the AEP program is a substitute for a conviction. However, while you will not have a criminal conviction, your driver history at the DMV will state that you completed the AEP program.

What happens if I’m caught driving while my license is suspended / revoked?
Driving while your license is suspended is never a good idea. You should avoid this at all costs because it is considered a new crime. Driving with a suspended license for a DUI conviction means that you face fines and jail time separate from your DUI fines/jail time. You will face a fine ranging from $500 – $1000 and jail time of 30 days or more. The amount of jail time imposed varies depending on your prior DUI convictions.

What is the difference between a DUI, DWI, OUI, OWI, DWUI etc.?
These terms are all acronyms that refer to the offense commonly known as “drunk driving.” Different states have different names for the crime of drunk driving. For example, in New York and New Jersey a drunk driving charge is known as DWI. Connecticut law uses the term driving “operating under the influence” or DUI.

Is a DUI in Connecticut a misdemeanor or a felony charge?
In Connecticut, a DUI is usually a misdemeanor crime, especially if we’re talking about a first offense. However, if you have a prior DUI conviction in the past 10 years the second or greater DUI conviction is considered a felony offense.

Will my defense lawyer be able to get me a plea bargain or negotiate my Connecticut DUI charge down to another (lesser) offense?
This will depend on your situation. Plea bargaining and charge reduction are two areas that any experienced Connecticut DUI lawyer would discuss with the prosecutor on behalf of the client. However, it is important to know that the DUI statute specifically states that a prosecutor cannot reduce or nolle a DUI case without a statement on the record as to the reasons for such.

I am licensed to drive in a state other than Connecticut and I was cited for a DUI in Connecticut. Will my driver’s license be suspended?
Connecticut can only suspend your license in the state of Connecticut. However, Connecticut, along with 44 other states and the District of Columbia, have all signed an agreement called the Driver License Compact. This means that Connecticut will report a DUI to your home state if this state has also signed the Driver License Compact. After learning about your DUI, your home state will most likely suspend your license.

Will I have to install an Ignition Interlock Device on my car?
The ignition interlock device (IID) is a breath alcohol measurement device that is connected to a motor vehicle’s ignition. In order to start the motor vehicle, a driver has to blow a breath sample into the device. The device will then check to measure the alcohol concentration and determine if the driver is sober enough to operate the vehicle. If the alcohol concentration of the driver exceeds the startup limit set on the device, the car will not start.
If you have your license suspended for a second DUI conviction within the past 10 years, you might be able to get your license restored to you by installing an IID in the vehicle(s) that you drive for 24 months. To be eligible, you first have to serve one year of the required license suspension. You may then apply for the ability to drive only with an IID. Contact your Connecticut lawyer to see if you are eligible for an IID license. Note: If you don’t install an ignition interlock following your second DUI conviction, your license will be effectively suspended for at least three years.

How will a Connecticut DUI affect my car insurance?
If your insurance company finds out that you got a DUI, your rates will rise or your insurance will be cancelled/non-renewed.

I missed my Connecticut court appearance. What do I do now?
At minimum, the Connecticut court will issue a warrant for your arrest. You should get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible to determine what should be done next. In many cases, your only option will be to turn yourself in and a new court date will be scheduled for you.

If I’m stopped by a police officer and he asks me if I’ve been drinking, what should I say?
You are not required to answer potentially incriminating questions asked by a police officer. You should politely tell the officer that you would like to speak with an attorney before answering any questions. On the other hand, telling an officer that you had one or two beers is not an incriminating statement. You should use your judgement in this situation.

Do I have a right to an attorney when I’m stopped by an officer and asked to take a field sobriety test?
You do not have a right to an attorney until you have refused or submitted to chemical testing (blood, breath, or urine test). In the state of Connecticut, you have a right to consult with counsel when you are being arrested or before you decide to submit or refuse chemical testing.

What should I do if I’m asked to take the field sobriety tests?
There are a wide range of field sobriety tests (FSTs), including heel-to-toe, one-leg stand, finger-to-nose, finger-to-thumb, horizontal gaze nystagmus, alphabet recitation, modified position of attention (Rhomberg), hand pat, etc. Most officers will use a set battery of three to five such tests. Unlike the chemical test, where refusal to submit may have serious consequences, you are not legally required to perform any FSTs. Police officers have generally already made up their minds to arrest you when they asked you to take the FSTs and these tests just give them more evidence against you. For this reason, it is in your best interest to refuse these tests.

Why did the officer make me follow a penlight with my eyes to the left and right?
This is the “horizontal gaze nystagmus” test, a recent development in DUI investigation. When conducting the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the police officer attempts to estimate the angle at which the eye begins to jerk (“nystagmus” is medical jargon for a distinctive eye oscillation); if this occurs sooner than 45 degrees, it theoretically indicates a blood-alcohol concentration over .05%. The smoothness of the eye’s ability to tracking the penlight (or finger or pencil) is also a factor, as is the type of jerking when the eye is as far to the side as it can go. This field sobriety test is considered a “standardized field sobriety test”, but there are still inaccuracies involved with the test. In addition, this test is not accepted by the medical community, and the findings of this test can be disputed in court.

Should I agree to take a chemical test? What happens if I refuse the chemical test?
The consequences of refusing to submit to a blood, breath or urine test are severe. In Connecticut, if you refuse a test when asked your license will be suspended for a minimum of 6 months, even if you are not found guilty of a DUI.

The officer never gave me a “Miranda” warning: Can I get my case dismissed?
No. The officer is supposed to give a 5th Amendment warning after he arrests you, but many officers do not. Contrary to popular belief, the only consequence to not reading the Miranda warning is that the prosecution can’t use your answers to questions after the arrest in court. However, if the police officer doesn’t inform you of the state’s implied consent law, the suspension of your license might be waived.