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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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CT defense lawyerBeing charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is always a serious matter, with no exceptions. One is bad enough, but if you have been stopped a second time, it can have serious implications for your long-term future. Hiring a Connecticut attorney well versed in DUI law is critical, as trying to go through the process alone can be a difficult and frightening experience.

Connecticut Is Strict on DUIs

It is generally the public policy of the state of Connecticut to charge DUI crimes because of the potential danger they pose to the community. A first-time DUI in Connecticut still carries fairly strict penalties, especially if you refuse a chemical test or Breathalyzer (under Connecticut law, anyone who drives on the state’s roads has given their implied consent to administering such a test, and refusal to take it is met with punishment). While the jail time for a first DUI is minimal, the fine can be substantial, and if you refuse the breath test, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least six months, but for as much as one year if there are aggravating factors.

In Connecticut, a DUI is only counted as a second offense if it occurs within 10 years of the first, but if this happens to you, the fines will be higher, more jail time will be required, and the date and requirements for your license to be reinstated are much stricter. While there may be some occasions in which someone is granted a conditional permit if they need to drive to work or school, judges otherwise do not generally relax these requirements, just because drunk driving is so potentially dangerous.

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CT  defense lawyerThere are several types of infractions for which your driver’s license may be suspended. This may seem like a blow it would be impossible to recover from, given that the majority of people drive to work, to their obligations, their appointments, and so on. However, it is very possible to get your license reinstated, or in some rare cases, not to lose it in the first place, depending on the type of offense you are convicted of or held liable for.

Unusual Procedure for DUIs

Connecticut has a somewhat unusual procedure for handling alleged driving while intoxicated (DUI) offenses - the criminal case in court, and the administrative license suspension hearing, which is headed by an administrative law judge (ALJ). This is because there are currently more than 20 offenses in Connecticut law which may be punishable by license suspension, and it is more efficient to simply conduct all proceedings of this type through an ALJ. It is possible, if unlikely, to prevail in your court case and still lose your driver’s license, and it is possible, if unlikely, to be convicted of DUI while retaining your license, depending on how each proceeding goes.

Connecticut law provides for a license suspension in connection with the DUI itself, but a refusal to consent to sobriety testing can also be grounds for a suspension. DUI mandates a suspension of at least 1 year for a first-time DUI, going up until a permanent revocation of a driver’s license upon the third offense. Refusal to take sobriety tests will yield different punishments for those under and over 21; for those under adult age, the penalties are between one and five years’ license suspension depending on blood alcohol level, while those over 21 will see suspensions between six months and two years, six months, again dependent on blood alcohol level and number of offenses.

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CT DUI lawyerDriving while under the influence of any substance is no laughing matter, and if you are caught, you can face serious repercussions. However, it is not necessary that your life be ruined, especially if it is your first offense. A Fairfield DUI attorney may be able to help work out a fair outcome in your case.

Connecticut DUI Facts

In Connecticut, you are considered to be driving under the influence if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over 0.08, though the number is even lower for commercial drivers (0.04), and those under age 21 (0.02). If you are shown to be driving under the influence, you will almost certainly be arrested, booked and read your rights, and will usually be released upon your own recognizance (that is, released upon a promise that you will appear in court later) unless you have caused injury or property damage while driving under the influence. If you cause injury or property damage while driving under the influence, the charges you will face may be greater.

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