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b2ap3_thumbnail_DUI_20201016-020939_1.jpgAnyone who drives a motor vehicle with an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) may be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Connecticut. An elevated BAC is defined as 0.08 percent for adults and 0.02 percent for drivers under the age of 21. If convicted of drunk driving, an individual faces an immediate administrative driver’s license suspension and a possible jail sentence of up to 6 months. If the offender’s BAC was significantly above the legal limit, he or she has previously been convicted of DUI, or there are other aggravating factors, the penalties associated with DUI are much more severe. If you or a loved one have been charged with DUI, read on to learn about the legal defenses that may be used to avoid conviction.

Defending Against a Connecticut DUI

To secure a conviction for DUI, prosecutors must prove that a driver’s alcohol consumption led him or her to be intoxicated and therefore unable to operate a vehicle safely. DUI defenses typically fall under one of two categories:

The Evidence Used to Charge The Driver Was Inadequate or Flawed: There are several chemical tests that are used to determine an individual’s blood alcohol content. The most common is a breath alcohol content test such as a Breathalyzer. Blood tests and urine tests may also be used. If the results of these tests are inaccurate, the driver’s true BAC is unknown. A Breathalyzer or other chemical BAC test may yield inaccurate results because the testing instrument was not calibrated correctly or was somehow damaged. BAC test results may also be inaccurate if the police officer or healthcare worker administrating the test administers it incorrectly. Clerical errors such as mislabeled or mixed up test results may also lead to inaccurate results.

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CT DUI lawyerDrunk driving is an offense taken very seriously by Illinois courts. If you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), you face an immediate administrative driver’s license suspension. If convicted, you face further criminal consequences including possible jail time. Losing your license after a DUI can make it nearly impossible for you to get to and from work, transport your children, or perform everyday tasks. Fortunately, you may be able to regain your driving privileges by participating in a driving relief program and installing a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) in your vehicle.

How Do Illinois BAIIDs Work?

A breath alcohol interlock device is a device that measures the amount of alcohol on someone’s breath and uses that information to calculate his or her blood alcohol content (BAC). Similar to a breathalyzer, a test subject uses a BAIID by blowing into the device’s mouthpiece. If the device detects a BAC that is above 0.025 percent, the ignition will not engage and the vehicle will not start. BAIIDs are also equipped with a camera that takes a photograph of the test subject. This ensures that the person providing the breath sample is the person for whom the device is intended. There is no way to “cheat” a BAIID. Mints, gum, candy, mouthwash, or other rumored tactics cannot allow an inebriated driver to start his or her car once the BAIID is installed. Furthermore, misusing a BAIID may lead to a lengthened driver’s license suspension period and additional criminal consequences.

BAIIDs Are Required for a Monitoring Device Permit or Restricted Driving Permit

If you have been convicted of a first-time DUI, you may be able to regain your driving privileges through a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP). As a condition of this permit, you will need to have a BAIID installed in any vehicle you plan on driving. Driving a vehicle that does not have a BAIID installed in it once you have received a MDDP is against the law. If you have been charged or convicted of a second or subsequent DUI, you may be able to restore limited driving privileges through a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP). To obtain an RDP, you will need to prove that a hardship exists, participate in a professional drug and alcohol evaluation, attend a hearing, and have a BAIID installed in your vehicle.

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CT DUI lawyerDriving while under the influence in Connecticut is a very serious crime, with the potential to cause fatalities and injuries not only to the people involved, but also to pedestrians. If you are charged with one, the consequences will be serious, but a second DUI ups the proverbial stakes, and there will be far fewer chances to try and seek a lesser sentence. An attorney is absolutely crucial at this stage in order to protect your rights.

First vs Second Offense

Driving while under the influence is a crime in Connecticut, with a first offense being a misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail plus a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 45 days and your car will be fitted with an ignition interlock device for up to one year. This is all in addition to probation, which has expensive fees that can add up. Depending on your specific situation, you may be able to seek entry into a pretrial diversion program, which can result in your charges being dismissed if you comply with all the required terms.

Even if you do complete a pretrial diversion program and have your first offense effectively erased, a second DUI charge is considered more serious. A second DUI is always a felony charge, carrying a prison term of anywhere between four months and two years, along with a fine of up to $4,000, ignition interlock for three years, license suspension, and probation. With a second DUI, probation will also usually include more requirements, such as community service and alcohol education.

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CT defense attorneyWhen someone drives under the influence, they endanger themselves and everyone around them. However, a first-time DUI offender, while still behaving recklessly, is more likely to have simply made a mistake than to have engaged in any pattern of consciously reckless behavior, and may have no idea how to negotiate the legal process after being charged with a DUI. If you are in this situation, an experienced attorney can be of help in guiding you through.

Criminal and Administrative Consequences

Connecticut’s DUI law states that it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content over 0.08 (for most drivers; for juveniles, the limit is lower). Criminal charges and administrative processes both start at the time a person is charged with driving under the influence. In addition to whatever criminal charges the state decides to bring against a driver, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles also automatically starts proceedings that may wind up with your license suspended, or with an ignition interlock placed on your vehicle.

It can be confusing for first-time offenders, in particular, to understand that both criminal and administrative consequences can result from the same action. However, driving under the influence is seen as such a potentially serious offense that a mere license suspension, or a mere fine, is not considered sufficient punishment. The Connecticut legislature has balanced the two so as to be more certain that the punishment fits the crime.

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CT defense lawyerDrinking and driving is never acceptable under any circumstances and justifiably carries serious consequences, even for first offenders. However, there are ways that a person can make things even worse for themselves when they get caught. Refusing a breathalyzer or other sobriety test is at the top of the list - but at the same time, refusing a breathalyzer is not a crime in Connecticut. Either way, enlisting a Stamford DUI attorney will help you ensure your rights are protected.

A Danger to Others

If you are pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving, you will be asked to take at least one sobriety test, with a breathalyzer being one that is commonly used in the field. It is not against the law to refuse a breath test in Connecticut (though it is in many other states), If you refuse, state law allows for your drivers’ license to be immediately suspended, generally for up to six months’ time for a first offense, with the length of time rising with each offense and refusal. If you are under the age of 18 and refuse a breathalyzer, the license suspension will be 18 months for a first offense.

This may seem too harsh, but Connecticut sees DUIs as very serious, posing a significant danger to the average person. Failure to take a breath or other sobriety test is seen as a failure to acknowledge the potential hazards of driving under the influence, and public policy (the idea that the state should further the well-being of its citizens) requires that law enforcement act appropriately. Connecticut, like most other states, has ‘implied consent’ laws, which essentially hold that anyone who drives on Connecticut roads consents to chemical testing if arrested for DUI.

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