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CT DUI attorneyThere is never any excuse for driving while under the influence of alcohol or another substance. However, there is a difference between a person who makes a mistake and a person who constantly acts recklessly, without regard for anyone else. Getting your first DUI in Connecticut can be terrifying, especially if it is an isolated incident rather than the next step in a pattern of behavior. An experienced DUI attorney can help guide you through what can be an intimidating process.

Connecticut Statistics Are Steady

Statistics show that the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Connecticut has risen in recent years, with 38 percent of traffic deaths being alcohol-related in 2016, rising to 43 percent in 2017, even though the overall fatality rate actually dropped. Nationwide, approximately 29 percent of all road deaths were alcohol-related, which is a historic low (at least since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been recording such statistics), so Connecticut’s rate is slightly higher. Connecticut does have a high death rate in such accidents, however, especially among those aged 21-34.

Regardless of age, Connecticut recognizes driving under the influence as a crime and takes even first offenses very seriously. Law enforcement officers can arrest and charge with DUI even if a driver refuses a blood alcohol test, though to refuse the test is highly discouraged (if you refuse a blood alcohol test in the field, your license may be suspended for up to 1 year, even for a first offense). You may wind up in jail for a night or longer, but either way, most first-time offenders find negotiating the process alone almost impossible.

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CT DUI lawyerDriving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is seen as one of the most reckless and dangerous crimes one can commit without having the malicious intent to harm anyone. The penalties, even for a first-time offender, can be quite serious. However, if you are caught driving under the influence again in Connecticut, the penalties are even more serious and no leniency will be granted to you as a repeat offender. If you have been charged with a second or third DUI, you need an attorney well versed in these types of cases to stand up for your rights.

A Second DUI Is a Felony

In Connecticut, the 10-year period after you are convicted of DUI is the key to keeping your criminal record clear. A first DUI is often charged as a misdemeanor if no one has been injured or killed, and as such, the person may be eligible for pretrial diversion programs and other rehabilitative options instead of having to serve a prison sentence. If you are convicted of a second DUI within 10 years of the first, you will automatically be charged as a felony, regardless of whether the DUI caused injury, death, property damage, or no damage at all.

A second DUI in 10 years being charged as a felony means that no pretrial diversion is available; if you are sentenced to prison at trial, you must serve that prison sentence. Connecticut law allows a sentence of between 45 and 730 days (two years) for any DUI beyond the first offense, as well as fines of up to $4,000 and a driver’s license suspension for up to three years, depending on the specific nature of your actions.

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CT juvenile lawyerOperating a motor vehicle under the influence (OUI) of alcohol or drugs is one of the most reckless acts that a person can commit, and the law takes an especially dim view of it if the accused is underage. If your child has been arrested and charged with OUI while they are under the legal drinking age, there may be additional ramifications on top of the normal OUI penalties. Enlisting an attorney to help answer your questions is highly recommended.

Zero Tolerance Policy

Connecticut has a legal blood alcohol limit (BAC) of .08 percent, but if you are underage, any trace of alcohol in your system beyond .02 percent will result in arrest. Normally, a driver detained under suspicion of OUI will be jailed at least overnight, but for underage drivers, the procedure initially does differ. Underage drivers are not detained, generally, but their drivers’ license is seized, and their vehicle will usually be towed. In order to get their license back, their parent or guardian must come in person to retrieve it, and must also agree to cover any towing expenses.

Unlike with many other juvenile offenses, an underage OUI does carry a jail sentence even for a first offense, as in 2012 Connecticut changed its laws so that the penalties for OUI are the same regardless of the age of the driver. Thus, even for a first offense, even for an underage defendant, a potential penalty of up to six months in jail is on the proverbial table, as well as a mandatory 45-day license suspension and an ignition interlock device (IID) for one year.

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CT defense lawyerIn most U.S. states, it is illegal for someone to consume alcohol and then operate a motor vehicle, and it is also illegal for anyone in the vehicle to have an open container of alcohol. Connecticut is one of the few states where the laws on open containers differ, and this can lead to confusion for drivers, especially those from out of state. Failure to understand Connecticut law can lead to being arrested for driving under the influence, and this is obviously an outcome that most people want to avoid.

No Real Open Container Law

As of this writing, 40 U.S. states have laws prohibiting open containers of alcohol in vehicles. Connecticut, however, is not one of them - in most situations, passengers who are over the legal drinking age of 21 are permitted to have alcohol in a vehicle and even drink from the open container. Connecticut law prohibits consumption of alcohol “while operating a motor vehicle” - but if one is not operating the vehicle, the law is lax. Some local ordinances do ban open containers entirely, but state law does not.

There may be consequences for drivers who are under 21 whose passengers drink alcohol in the car, but these would stem from their age, rather than any consumption. A police officer can charge an underage driver with a violation if there is alcohol in their car if they believe the driver knew or had reason to know of its presence, which can lead to a license suspension. However, this can be difficult to prove, depending on the specific facts of the case.

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CT defense lawyerNo driver wants to see those blue flashing lights pop up in their rearview mirror. Traffic stops are always stressful. Being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving is especially nerve-racking. At this time, you need to know how to protect your rights during the traffic stop and beyond. Notably, if you were arrested for a DUI in Stamford, CT, it is imperative that you reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Your driving privileges, your freedom, and your reputation could all be on the line. You are entitled to strong legal representation.

Do Not Try to Talk Your Way Out of a DUI

At a traffic stop, you should always remain polite and you should cooperate with the reasonable requests of the responding law enforcement officers. That being said, defendants have a legal right to remain silent. You are not required to answer any invasive questions. If you are suspected of a DUI, you should use this right. One of the biggest mistakes you can make at a drunk driving stop is trying to talk your way out of an arrest. You are far more likely to talk your way into an arrest or to inadvertently provide statements that will be used in a future prosecution.

Know the Rules on Field Sobriety Testing

As explained by the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the state has an implied consent law on the books. Drivers in Connecticut have pre-consented to chemical alcohol tests — such as blood tests and breath tests. The failure to submit to one types of chemical tests could result in a DUI refusal charge. However, drivers have not consented to perform other, less reliable field sobriety types of tests. You are not legally required to do the walk-and-turn, one-leg-stand, or to recite the alphabet backwards.

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