When you are charged with a DUI, you will go through two processes – the process with the criminal court, and the process with the DMV. You will have a DMV hearing to determine if your driver’s license will be suspended or not. This hearing is called the DMV Per Se hearing. You can learn more about it on this page.
What is the DMV Per Se Hearing?
The hearing is conducted by a hearing officer who is a licensed State of Connecticut attorney. This attorney will be hired and appointed by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to hear and decide the issue on whether your license gets suspended. Additionally, if your license does get suspended according to the Statute, then the hearing officer will impose an ignition interlock device (IID) be installed on your car after the suspension. The length of time is predetermined based on your offense.
The DMV Per Se hearing is conducted in one of four spots throughout the state of Connecticut. Your hearing will be assigned to one of them geographically based on the place you were arrested. Once you requested this Per Se hearing, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will send you (and any attorney that might have filed their appearance on your behalf) any notice on where and when this hearing will be.
How is the Hearing Conducted?
At some of these hearing, the Department of Motor Vehicles is represented by an attorney and will subpoena the arresting and/or testing police officer(s). At others, the state will only rely on the paperwork and test results from the time of the arrest. If something is wrong with the paperwork, or if witnesses are subpoenaed, an attorney such as one at Ruane Attorneys can help protect your driving privileges by questioning and cross examining these witnesses.
The paperwork submitted to the hearing officer consists of the original police report, any Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test strips (breath, urine, or blood), and the A44. (See below on what is an A44). Sometimes it also has the driver’s history.
What is an A44?
This form is required to be submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles which will initiate the license suspension process. This form has the implied consent that was read to you at the police station the day you were arrested. This implied consent basically states that you agree in order to be granted a driver’s license in the state to have your blood alcohol content (BAC) tested as requested by law enforcement. If you don’t do this, you will get an automatic license suspension. It also restates your right to contact an attorney. This form must be signed under oath by the arresting officer. If a refusal to a BAC test occurred, then another person must witness this refusal and also sign this form. The test results or a slip showing refusal must also be attached to this form and all originals must be provided to the DMV. At the hearing the originals must be present.
The Four Elements to Prove
At the hearing, the officer must determine four issues. This is a civil hearing, so the state has a much lower standard of proof required of them than in a criminal case. This standard is “preponderance of the evidence” which is a much lower standard than that of the criminal court. In criminal court (just like you hear in many of those TV shows) the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the standard is much lower, for the most part many of the issues of evidence and even procedures from criminal court are not relevant here.
The four issues at this hearing are:
1) Did the police officer have probable cause to arrest you for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs or both? Note that probable cause for arrest is NOT the same as probable cause to stop a vehicle. That determination is not relevant at a DMV Per Se hearing.
2) Where you placed under arrest?
3) Did you submit to the required chemical alcohol test and if so, did the results of such test indicate an elevated blood alcohol content?
4) Were you operating the motor vehicle?
If the hearing officer finds all four of these determinations, you lose the DMV hearing and your license is suspended for 45 days.
NOTE: the hearing officer MUST find all four issues to suspend your license.
Defenses at a Per Se Hearing
There are some defense to the items listed above. Just note that not all or any of these may apply in your case. All defenses are case specific. However, here is a list of defense:
- Videos of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (if you passed them).
- Witnesses that were present at the time of the stop that can testify to your condition.
- Your testimony if (and only if) there is something significantly erroneously about the police report.
- One example of this would be you did not refuse to take a breath test, but the officer said you did.
- Another example is if you were not properly monitored and had consumed some food or beverage before or between breath tests.
- If you were not driving and someone else was, the other driver should appear.
- If a non-valid warrant was used to get your blood tests from a hospital.
- If there was no separate witness to a test refusal noted on reports given to the DMV.
- If the arresting officer did not sign the reports given to the DMV.
- If the original reports that swore under oath are not presented to the DMV.
- If there is no evidence of when and if you were the operator of vehicle.
- If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or a similar medical issue that could affect a test.
If you have anything to support these defenses you would want to bring those items with you. If it is a medical condition, it is important to have documents from a medical provider stating you have conditions and how it would affect any possible breath tests. If you have this or any other medical issue that affected your testing at the time of the incident, but a doctor is not able to provide any analysis for you, please contact Ruane Attorneys. We can connect you with medical experts who can analyze your medical case and determine if that defense is applicable.
The penalties at the DMV are limited to your driving privileges. At arrest, you automatically get your license confiscated for 24 hours. Then after that period, your license will get the statutory suspension of 45 days. This is usually effective about 15 days after the arrest but will be no longer then 30 days. After the suspension you will have an ignition interlock device (IID) requirement. The length of that requirement will vary depending on your case.
Prepare for a DMV Per Se Hearing with a Connecticut Lawyer
If you still have questions about the DMV Per Se hearing, or if you would like help preparing a defense for your hearing, contact our office. We are happy to help.