Just as anyone can make a regrettable mistake, according to the U.S. justice system, everyone is entitled to a vigorous defense. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Connecticut, the effects of a conviction are both immediate and ongoing. Not only does a conviction mean possible jail time, fines, and the loss of your driver’s license, but it also means a criminal record that could impact your ability to work in your chosen career or limit your educational opportunities in the future. If it’s not a first DUI offense, a conviction means a felony with significant jail time.
Whether it’s a first DUI offense or a subsequent arrest, it’s essential to have an experienced lawyer defending your rights and best interests throughout the process. A courthouse-appointed attorney may not have the same level of experience and knowledge about the ever-evolving DUI laws while a dedicated Connecticut DUI attorney has the experience and knowledge to best defend your rights within the criminal justice system.
In a single bad night, you may suddenly find your entire future changed if you don’t protect your rights. Your best defense against the penalties, shame, and long-term consequences of a Connecticut DUI conviction is a powerful attorney with a strong reputation and successful track record in representing their DUI clients.
Understanding DUI in Connecticut
Connecticut law refers to what’s commonly known as driving under the influence (DUI) as operating under the influence (OUI). Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances refers to any act of operating a motor vehicle, even if it means only starting a parked car. A law enforcement officer has the right to pull over a driver on “reasonable suspicion” after observing certain NHTSA listed cues, including:
Sudden accelerating and decelerating
Straddling the center line
Drifting out of the lane
Driving excessively fast or slow
Delayed reaction time at traffic signals
Taking wide turns
Driving with the headlights off at night
Jerking the wheel
Driving the wrong way in one-way lanes
Repeatedly drifting to the shoulder of the road and jerking back into the lane
Once an officer has reasonable suspicion of DUI and pulls you over, you may be given a field sobriety test and asked to take a breathalyzer. You may politely refuse to answer questions by saying, “I’ll wait until my attorney is present,” but refusing the breathalyzer isn’t helpful. This tactic only results in the loss of your license and up to two years in prison. When you received your Connecticut driver’s license, you gave implied consent to testing.
What Are the Penalties for a DUI in Connecticut?
Penalties for drunk driving convictions are significant and increase in severity with subsequent convictions. Unless your attorney finds a processing error or violation of your rights, you could face the following:
A first conviction is a misdemeanor crime and could result in up to 6 months in jail, $500-$1,000 in fines, legal fees, suspension of your driver’s license for 45 days, 100 hours of community service, and an ignition interlocking device on your vehicle for a year after your license reinstatement
A second conviction is a felony and could result in up to 2 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of 120 days, license suspension for 45 days, $1,000-$4,000 fines, court fees, 100 hours of community service, and an ignition interlocking device on your vehicle for 3 years following the reinstatement of your license
A third and subsequent conviction could result in up to 3 years in prison with a 1-year mandatory minimum sentence, up to $8,000 in fines, court fees, 100 hours of community service, probation, license revocation for 2 to 6 years, and an ignition interlocking device on your vehicle for 10 years or for the duration of your driving years
Not only does a conviction come with the above serious penalties, but it also results in a permanent criminal record. This record is visible to prospective employers on a standard background check. It prohibits you from certain careers such as bus driving or driving a commercial truck. It may also disqualify you for scholarships and entrance into some schools and universities.
It’s important to mount a vigorous defense against serious charges that will impact the rest of your life. Only an experienced Connecticut DUI attorney can successfully navigate the legal system to your benefit against these serious charges.
What If It’s Only a First Offense DUI in Connecticut?
You may wonder if you really need an attorney for a first-time DUI offense. After all, a first offense isn’t a felony and many people can get the charges dropped in exchange for attending an alcohol education program, right?
While both of the above factors are true, attending a Connecticut pretrial alcohol education program isn’t a right, it’s a privilege, and not every first offender automatically qualifies. An attorney can maximize your chances of acceptance into the program in exchange for dropped charges. Otherwise, penalties for a first-time DUI conviction in Connecticut can result in serious penalties and a lasting impact on your life. It also puts you at risk of a felony and even more serious repercussions in the event of a second conviction.
By having a seasoned New Haven DUI accident attorney for a first-time DUI you can minimize the negative impacts of the arrest and possible conviction as you move forward.
How Can a Connecticut DUI Attorney Help?
An experienced Connecticut DUI attorney brings cutting-edge strategies to defend your rights throughout the DUI process, including using expert testimony from blood alcohol test experts, and toxicologists. They will examine every aspect of your arrest to look for violations of your rights that could result in a dismissal.
Your attorney understands what defense works best in your case and what to avoid. They will ensure that you’re fully prepared for every step of the process and safeguard your legal rights along the way. For a first offense, they can prepare the paperwork to maximize your chance of a case dismissal in exchange for attending an alcohol education program. A skilled, experienced attorney is the best way to mitigate the legal and long-term consequences of a DUI arrest in Connecticut.