If you have been stopped for DUI in Connecticut, you could be facing heavy fines, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time. The outcome of the stop, whether or not you will be arrested for DUI, and whether you will ultimately be convicted depends largely and how you conduct yourself when you are pulled over, and in the days immediately following the stop.
Here are some tips for what to do if you were stopped for DUI in CT:
You do not Have to Answer the Officer’s Questions
One of the most important things to understand when you are stopped for DUI is that you are only required to provide the officer with three basic pieces of information; your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. You are under no obligation to answer any additional questions that the officer asks you. Keep in mind that when you are pulled over by the police for drunk driving, they are not neutral, and they are not your friends. They already suspect that you have been drinking and driving, and they are looking to establish probable cause to arrest you for DUI.
One common question an officer may ask is “have you been drinking tonight?”, “How much have you been drinking tonight?”, or something to that effect. You might be tempted to give what you believe is an innocuous response such as “just a couple of beers”. This could be a major mistake. You do not want to admit to any wrongdoing after you are pulled over. Be courteous, and politely decline to answer the officer’s questions. Just let them know that you need to talk to your lawyer before providing them any further information.
You do not Have to Submit to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening
Another way an officer may try to establish probable cause to arrest you is by asking you to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS). A preliminary alcohol screening is a breathalyzer test conducted on the spot to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). There is a lot of confusion about whether or not you are required to take this type of test. Unlike the chemical test that you are given at the police station after your arrest, (more on that later), you are not required to take a preliminary alcohol screening. And generally, there is no good reason for you to take it unless you are absolutely certain that your BAC is below .08. Even then, the officer might still find a reason to arrest you.
You do not Have to Submit to a Field Sobriety Test (FST)
Field sobriety tests are a series of physical tests that a police officer may give you to help determine if you are intoxicated. For example, you may be asked to walk a straight line, follow a moving object with your eyes, or stand on one leg. Like the preliminary alcohol screening, it is generally not in your best interests to submit to a field sobriety test. Remember, the officer already suspects that you are intoxicated, and they are trying to collect more evidence to establish probable cause for an arrest. Therefore, it is very reasonable to assume that this test will not be administered objectively.
You are Required to Submit to a Chemical Test after a DUI Arrest
While you have the right to refuse a preliminary alcohol screening or field sobriety test, you cannot refuse the chemical (breath, blood, or urine) test that is given after the officer arrests you for DUI without consequence. Under Connecticut’s “implied consent” law, you give your consent to take this test when you apply for a driver’s license in the state. Refusal to take the mandatory chemical test may result in an automatic 45-day suspension of your driver’s license followed by having an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle for one year, just for your first offense. Subsequent offenses result in longer suspension periods and longer periods of time with an IID in your vehicle.
Being Arrested for DUI does not Necessarily Mean You will be Convicted
If you are ultimately arrested for DUI in Connecticut, you might be under the impression that there is nothing you can do to avoid a conviction. However, there are various defense strategies that can be employed to have the charges reduced or dismissed, depending on the circumstances of your case.
For example, if the police did not have probable cause to pull you over for drunk driving (such as witnessing a traffic violation, swerving on the road, problem with the vehicles safety equipment, or other signs of intoxication), then the stop would be unlawful, and any evidence gathered against you would be inadmissible.
Other possible defenses for a DUI charge may include:
- Lack of probable cause for a DUI arrest;
- Inaccurate or unreliable field sobriety tests;
- Inaccurate or unreliable chemical test results;
- The defendant was not driving the vehicle;
- The defendant was driving the vehicle out of a legal necessity.
Speak with a Skilled Connecticut DUI Defense Lawyer
If you were stopped and arrested for DUI in CT, you may be facing harsh consequences. With so much on the line, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating aggressively to protect your rights and interests. At The APEX Law Firm, LLC, we have successfully defended numerous clients who have been charged for drunk driving in Connecticut. We can thoroughly review your case and advise you of your best options to mitigate the situation as much as possible.
For a consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (860) 900-0900 or send us a message through our web contact form. You may also visit our Hartford County office in person at your convenience.