One of the biggest challenges in the criminal justice system in Connecticut is restoring your privilege to drive. As mentioned earlier, driving is a privilege in Connecticut, and not a right. A right is a freedom protected by the Constitution. Examples of this include the freedom to associate and the freedom of religion. A privilege is a certain ability that is granted by the government to a person. An example of this is the ability to hold certain types of professional licenses (doctors or lawyers).
If arrested for a DUI, you will most likely deal with a suspension of your license. This will begin as soon as you are arrested. The arresting police officer will be required to immediately confiscate your license and begin paperwork to suspend your license. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be notified, and will launch an administrative investigation into your case. In order to end the suspension of your license, you need to attend a DMV hearing. It is important to understand the process of a DMV suspension in connection to a DUI so that you can try to get the suspension lifted and your license back as soon as possible.
Because a license is a privilege granted by the DMV, it is the DMV who can take it away. If you lose your license due to a DUI, your license will be suspended for at least 45 days. The amount of time that the suspension will last depends on the number of DUI offenses you have. Also, it depends on the case that you present to the DMV. Your age will also affect how long your license will be suspended for if you are charged with a DUI.
Your license will be confiscated at the scene of the crime. You will then have to undergo a court hearing and a DMV hearing. If you receive a verdict of not guilty in court, and if the DMV agrees with this verdict, you will get your license back immediately. However, if you are considered guilty of a DUI, your license will continue to be suspended for the allotted time. You can get your license back once the suspension is over by applying to the DMV. However, you will not be able to legally drive until both the suspension is over and you have gotten approval from the DMV.
As a result of a DUI conviction, many citizens have dealt with the hassle of losing their license. This happens only to find that the process for getting a license restored is much more difficult than expected. Although one case differs from another, license suspensions fall into two categories, DUI related and non-DUI related. A DUI related suspension comes as the result of a single or multiple conviction for driving under the influence. Many people are under the false impression that the judge at the courthouse controls the suspension. However, this is not true.
Instead, the DMV enforces suspensions based on number of convictions and not necessarily by the same standard as the court. For example, a person who is treated as a first offender at court but is technically a second offender by DMV standards or number of prior offenses will suffer the suspension period of the second offender, even though the judge treated the person as a first offender. Depending on the level of DUI a person is facing this length of suspension (See Figure A for further detail):
Non DUI Related Suspension
1) A person may have forgotten or ignored an issued ticket. If so, a person’s license may get suspended pursuant to Connecticut General Statute 14-140. This requires the DMV to suspend the license until the ticket has gotten either paid or returned to the docket. If you have to “reopen” a ticket closed out under 14-140, you need to pay a fee of $60. The fine goes to the clerk’s office responsible for the ticket. You also have to send notice of that to the DMV to have your privilege restored.
2) A person’s license may get suspended for accumulating too many “points.” Points can get assessed for a number of infractions, and the DMV will notify a person that they must attend a driver retraining program. Sometimes, a series of infractions can take a person from a low point total to above the limit with the person realizing this. There is no warning before a “points” suspension.
3) A person who pleads guilty to operating under suspension or other serious motor vehicle violations may get suspended pursuant to state law. A list of the suspendable offenses are in Appendix A. If a person operates while under suspension, the penalty jumps from a one year suspension to a five year suspension. The five year date runs from conviction date, not from the date of the offense.
Out of State Convictions
The Connecticut DMV learns of a conviction in another state through The National Driver Register. The NDR is a central repository of information on individuals whose privilege to drive has been revoked, suspended, canceled, denied, or who have been convicted of serious traffic related offenses. All 50 states have access to this information.
This means that the Connecticut DMV will find out about your out of state conviction and will impose a penalty as if you got convicted in Connecticut.
Also, 48 states belong either to an agreement called the “Driver’s License Compact” or the “Non Resident Violator Compact.” The only states that don’t belong to one or the other are Michigan and Wisconsin. When you get a ticket outside of your home state, the Department of Motor Vehicles will relay the information to your home state and impact your driving record as if the ticket happened there.
Because of the basic need for driving, the Connecticut DMV has passed certain regulations for persons who have had their license suspended as a result of a DUI arrest and motor vehicle suspension or criminal conviction suspension. The rules for work permits are very strict, and also follow an arithmetic approach. Unless you qualify perfectly, you will not be given a work permit. Also, you only get one work permit in your life, so it is important for your lawyer to fight the DMV hearing and try to get your license suspension overturned so that you have not utilized your only permit.
Despite the immediate need for a work permit, the DMV will sometimes make a person wait weeks or months before issuing it. They can deny the permit outright if a person has several notations on their driving history for moving violations and in cases in which a breath test is refused, the DMV, by statute, will make a person wait 90 days before issuing a work permit.
A license suspension due to a DUI should be taken seriously. If you are caught driving while your license is suspended, it will make it more difficult for you to get your license back once the suspension is lifted. You could also face other penalties that are more severe. Plan on having your license suspended immediately if you are guilty of a DUI, and make alternate transportation plans. If you have any questions concerning your DMV hearing or your license suspension, you can contact the DMV by clicking here.