Driving Under the Influence in Connecticut
When you take a drink and then go out and drive in Connecticut, you may find yourself getting involved with a law—the DUI law—that can have a devastating impact on your life. It is a series of laws that has become so complicated and its punishment so severe that law professionals are bewildered by it.
The drunk driving laws of Connecticut and the United States Supreme Court make it easy for you to be pulled over. Police officers are allowed to pull you over based on a “reasonable articulable suspicion” that you are committing a crime, i.e. driving under the influence. They can pull you over and ask you a lot of questions without first having advised you of your constitutional rights. This is called an investigative detention. Now you have the right to refuse to answer any questions. In fact you have the constitutional right to refuse to answer the questions and to tell the officer to either arrest you or let you go. The likelihood is that you will be arrested! However, if you answer the questions you will be incriminating yourself and more than likely arrested. You can’t win!
During and after the stop the officer is observing, listening and using his sense of smell to determine if you have consumed any alcohol. The officer is also evaluating your dexterity, sense of balance and the sound of your speech—slurring of words. If you are asked if you consumed a drink containing alcohol, the officer will more than likely ask you to get out of the vehicle to perform some tests.
The police officer’s observation of your driving, his stopping you, talking with you and testing you is all being done to establish probable cause to arrest you. Once he asks you out of the car he will have you perform the following field sobriety tests—an eye test called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the Walk And Turn Test and the One Leg Stand Test. He will give you these tests after instructing you what to do to determine whether you can do several things at the same time—a type of diverted attention test. He is trying to determine if alcohol has affected your ability to listen to instructions and then perform the tests according to those instructions. Can you walk and chew gum at the same time? Well, can you? If you cannot, he will arrest you for DUI. If you can, he will more than likely arrest you, also. You can’t win.
When you are arrested he will take you to the police station and offer you either a breath, blood or urine test. This is the way that works. Connecticut law says that if you drive in Connecticut you give your implied consent to take one of these tests if asked by the police officer. He chooses the test, you do not! He will usually ask you to take a breath test on the Intoxilyzer 5000EN machine. This is the breath machine of choice in Connecticut. Before asking you to take a test he gives you an advisement with regard to the testing procedure and what happens if you take the test or refuse to take the test. He then gives you the opportunity to call an attorney.
You probably have just realized that a DUI in Connecticut means you face two (2) forums:
- The criminal court system with jail, fines, probation and license suspension a possibility; and
- The Department of Motor Vehicles Administrative procedure where license suspension is automatic—that’s right automatic—unless you request a hearing and your license or privilege to drive in Connecticut is restored.
The hearing at the DMV is called the Administrative Per Se Hearing. You can contest the automatic suspension. If you win, there is no suspension. If you lose, the suspension goes into effect. However, you have to contact the DMV with regard to scheduling this hearing. Your failure to do so results in the suspension taking effect.
All is not lost. Well, almost all is not lost. If your license is suspended, you may be able to get a special driving permit to drive to and from work and in the course of your employment.
As an experienced DUI Attorney, I handle both the Court and DMV matters. While the discussion seems simple the law is quite complex because it contains many elements of biology, chemistry, the law and the operation of the breath machine.
You always have to appear at the Court hearings but you do not have to appear at the DMV hearing. Your attorney can appear alone and present your case at the DMV hearing.
- An Introduction to DUI Laws
- Are drug-related DUI charges becoming more prevalent?
- What is Reasonable to Expect From Your Attorney?
- Will the Cost of a DUI Conviction Outweigh the Cost of Retaining an Attorney to Defend the Charge?
- What Issues Prevent People From Retaining an Attorney to Defend a DUI Charge?
- Do Severe Penalties Deter Drunk Drivers?
- What Will Transpire After You Have Been Arrested and Charged With DUI?
- Entering a Pro Forma Plea
- DUIs and Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles
- Common Questions About the DMV’s Role After a DUI
- The DMV and Commercial Drivers
- Has Connecticut Enacted Any Changes to the DUI Laws?
- Have DUI Laws Evolved Over Time?
- Administrative Hearing & Driver’s License Suspension
- Connecticut Offers an Alcohol Education Program for First Offense DUI Charges
- If You Are Arrested, the Majority of Times You Will Have to Go through the Criminal Justice System
- Miranda Rights and How They Are Related To A DUI Cases
- Connecticut Statute
- Operating a Vehicle
- Boating While Intoxicated
NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) Impaired Driving Division home page.
Statistics on drunk driving and blood alcohol content in the state of Connecticut.
Basic facts, ways to evaluate the problem and steps to help integrate this issue into your current activities.
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