Connecticut’s First-Time DUI Offender Programs
Driving under the influence (DUI) is considered a serious crime in Connecticut and even a first time offense can result in jail time, a hefty fine, and a 45 day license suspension. Fortunately, there are programs available to first time offenders that can help them avoid these types of harsh penalties, so if you were arrested for driving under the influence, you should consider speaking with an experienced Fairfield DUI attorney who can explain your legal options.
The Alcohol Education Program
In Connecticut, some first time DUI offenders qualify for admittance into the Alcohol Education Program (AEP). The AEP is a state diversionary program that requires participants to:
- Complete weekly one hour classes over a ten to fifteen week period; and
- Attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel.
Defendants who are accepted into the program and who successfully complete it will have their DUI charges dismissed and removed from their arrest record. Unfortunately, this program is not available to all defendants, so first time DUI offenders are encouraged to retain an attorney to help them fill out the application and present their case at the mandatory hearing.
The Application Process
The AEP application process is divided into three stages:
- Submitting an application;
- Attending an eligibility screening; and
- Attending an application hearing before a judge.
After turning in an application in court, a defendant seeking admittance into the program must go through eligibility screening because only those who are accused of certain DUI offenses are accepted into the program. In order to be eligible for the AEP, a defendant’s charges must fall under one of the following categories:
- Operating a vehicle while under the influence or while the driver has an elevated blood alcohol content (BAC), although this category excludes those who have a commercial driver’s license, those who have used the program in the last ten years, and those who have a prior misdemeanor or felony DWI conviction in any state;
- Operation of a vehicle by a person under the age of 21 years old with a BAC that exceeds .02 percent; and
- Boating while intoxicated.
Defendants charged with one of these offenses will be eligible to enter the program, as long as they successfully complete a screening interview at an alcohol education facility. These interviews are intended to help determine whether an applicant qualifies for the program and whether he or she should be placed in a ten or fifteen week program.
At this point, defendants must attend an application hearing before a judge, who will hear testimony from both lawyers, arresting officers, and any victims. The court will also take the following factors into consideration before making a decision:
- The defendant’s professional and personal history;
- The likelihood that the defendant will reoffend;
- The defendant’s criminal record;
- The Bail Commissioner’s recommendation;
- The defendant’s age;
- The defendant’s driving history;
- The rate of speed at which the defendant was traveling; and
- The defendant’s level of remorse.
Defendants who are approved and who complete the program will eventually have their charges dismissed.
Call Today to Discuss Your Case with a Fairfield DUI Attorney
If you were arrested for driving under the influence, feel free to contact the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner to have your case evaluated for free by a dedicated and experienced Fairfield County DUI attorney. We are eager to aggressively represent you throughout each step of your case.