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How Do I Avoid Jail Time for My DUI Charge?

If you are a first time DUI offender in the state of Connecticut, there is a good possibility that you will not serve time behind bars. There are, of course, special cases or exceptional circumstances. However, many first time DUI offenders in CT are able to avoid incarceration. This often requires the legal expertise of a DUI defense lawyer who can negotiate the case on their behalf. Some of the most common alternatives to incarceration for those facing a DUI conviction in CT are:

The Pretrial Alcohol Education Program (AEP)

First time DUI offenders in CT have the option of entering an alcohol education program. This presents an alternative to a DUI conviction. By attending this program, you can avoid a DUI listing on your criminal record. Further, you will not face punishments, such as jail time or fines. 

Only first time DUI offenders are eligible to participate in the AEP, and repeat offenders do not qualify for this program. Besides, the offender will have to complete this program for their DUI to be dismissed.

Probation

Rather than serving jail time, the court can often monitor a first-time DUI offender through probation. The court may assign you a probation officer, and you will have to check in routinely with them. Further, you may face other restrictions such as a promise to stay away from alcohol and other substances, a curfew, etc.

Community Service

Another alternative to time behind bars for DUI offenders is community service. Often, helping the community and participating in something constructive is an option for people guilty of specific crimes, such as a DUI.

Rehabilitation

If the court determines that your DUI occurred due to alcohol or drug dependency, a judge may order you to get treatment. Rather than going to jail, you can receive help for your addiction and attend a rehab facility. Often, a judge will require you to check in with the court to establish that you are receiving treatment and that it is an effective option.

Ignition Interlock Device

The court may ask you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle when your license suspension period is over. This device will assess your blood alcohol content to ensure that you do not drive when inebriated again.

Fine

Instead of spending time behind bars, a judge may ask you to pay a fine to provide compensation to a victim, cover any damages, etc.

Defense Strategies to Fight CT Second-Offense DUI Arrests

The aftermath of an arrest for DUI is often a period of uncertainty, confusion, and worry. In such situations, defendants must understand there are defense tactics that can significantly improve their prospects. As the prosecution must prove each aspect of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt, it is typically possible for an experienced DUI attorney in CT to:

  • Challenge whether the traffic stop leading to the arrest and any associated searches were constitutional
  • Question validity of breath/blood/urine testing that was undertaken and the methods used to report the outcomes
  • Question the manner and/or interpretation of field sobriety tests
  • Raise concerns regarding the chain of custody of collected proof

Such strategies can help you accomplish a reduction or dismissal of charges, but there is no scope for delay in using them. Therefore, it is vital to engage a leading DUI / DWI criminal attorney in CT as soon as possible after the arrest.

A Seasoned DUI Attorney in CT can Help you Avoid Jail Time

In order to avoid the consequences associated with a DUI conviction, you need to work with a skilled lawyer to fight for a favorable case outcome from the initial stages of the judicial process.

For instance, if law enforcement violated your rights at any stage, it may be grounds to have the charges against you dismissed before your trial even commences. Your attorney can successfully ask the court to eliminate any evidence from the lawsuit that was acquired in violation of your rights. In the absence of evidence, a trial is not possible.

Law enforcement officers cannot initiate a traffic stop based on a hunch that you may be driving when intoxicated. They will need to observe you violate the law or drive in a manner that indicates that you are inebriated. The arresting officer may admit, under cross-examination by a qualified attorney, that they did not have a valid reason to pull you over.

In such cases, the evidence from the traffic stop will likely be removed, and the court may dismiss your case. To understand what defenses are applicable to your DUI case, consult a skilled DUI lawyer at APEX Law Firm, LLC. Call (860) 900-0900 for a free initial consultation.

What Makes a DUI Aggravated in Connecticut?

Over one million people are apprehended each year in the US for driving under the influence (DUI). It is quite acceptable to have a few drinks, but operating a vehicle with high blood alcohol content (BAC) risks not only your life and well-being but also that of others on the road. 

Estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that one-third of first time DUI offenders repeat the same crime in the future. It is not surprising to see this statistic as alcohol often reduces inhibitions and impairs judgment. However, a more serious felony DUI charge awaits those who repeat the same misdemeanor. 

Difference between a Misdemeanor and a Felony

The seriousness of the crime is used to rate offenses. In general, a DUI would be classified as a misdemeanor. But, in many states, there is a limit on the number of times a person is convicted for a DUI before the charge converts to a felony.

In comparison to felonies, misdemeanors are considered less grave. Felony offenders typically receive stricter punishments. Misdemeanor charges usually have imprisonment of up to a year while a felony offense may warrant jail time of more than one year.

DUI Charges in Connecticut: Misdemeanor or Felony?

Offenses such as DUI are criminal in nature. A first time DUI conviction is seen as an unclassified misdemeanor. In case of a second DUI offense and subsequent repetitions, it is considered as unclassified felonies or aggravated DUI.

According to Connecticut law, DUI turns into a felony when a person faces a second DUI charge within ten years of a previous conviction for the same offense. People who get a second DUI conviction are considered to be convicted felons.

In Connecticut, felony DUI (aggravated DUI) penalties include the following:

  • Up to two years of imprisonment with mandatory jail time of 120 days
  • A fine ranging from $1,000 to $4,000
  • Probation with up to 100 hours of community service
  • License suspension for 45 days
  • Installation of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for three years

A DUI is a felony if a drunk motorist is responsible for causing severe physical harm (assault with a motor vehicle) or death (manslaughter with a motor vehicle) of another individual, even if the intoxicated driver does not have any prior DUI convictions. 

A charge of aggravated drunk driving can result from specific aggravating circumstances surrounding the accident that led to the indictment. A first DUI charge is usually considered a misdemeanor under the DUI laws of many states. However, aggravated drunk driving is a felony charge, and this necessarily warrants more stringent punishments for motorists convicted of an aggravated DUI.

Aggravated Drunk Driving Charges: Consideration of Circumstances and Factors

  • A significantly high blood alcohol level (BAC)
  • Operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or above with a minor child in the automobile
  • Operating a vehicle while simultaneously using drugs and alcohol
  • Operating a school bus while drunk
  • Driving within a school zone while intoxicated
  • Causing serious injury or fatality

If a person is pulled over for drunk driving, they may face aggravated drunk driving charges if they:

  • Are caught behind the wheel without a valid driver’s license
  • Cause another individual to sustain serious injuries or die, or extensive damage to property due to the accident
  • Have numerous prior DUI convictions, especially within a specific timeframe

In comparison to a regular DUI charge, often considered a misdemeanor, an aggravated drunk driving conviction can lead to significantly more serious penalties. Most drivers accused of aggravated drunk driving face felony charges. This tarnishes an individual’s clean reputation and places a permanent mark on their criminal record, potentially disqualifying them for certain jobs, among other detriments.

  • Imprisonment
  • Long probation terms
  • Community service
  • Revocation or suspension of driving license
  • Compulsory ignition interlock device installation
  • Heavy fines
  • Confiscation of vehicle

Are aggravated DUI conviction penalties harsher than those for a regular DUI conviction?

In general, yes. The penalties associated with an aggravated DUI conviction often include more substantial fines, more extended periods of driver’s license suspension, a higher possibility of substance abuse assessment and/or treatment, and mandatory minimum incarceration.

If my offense involved a minor, will I be charged with aggravated DUI?

A person might be charged with an aggravated DUI if they had a minor child in the vehicle with them at the time of their offense, if their actions led to serious bodily harm to a minor child, if they were driving while drunk in a school zone, or if they were operating a school bus while under the influence of alcohol.

Schedule a Consultation with a Skilled DUI Lawyer in CT

If you face a DUI charge in Connecticut, you must act fast to preserve your driving privileges and other freedoms. In Connecticut, the law allows a mere seven days for an attorney representing a client charged with a DUI to request the Connecticut DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) for a hearing to help prevent their license from being revoked.

During this time as the COVID-19 crisis is upon us, there is limited access to the Connecticut courts. However, APEX Law Firm, LLC is still here to provide the experienced representation our clients need and deserve. Much of our work is being done remotely in accordance with social distancing guidelines, but our firm remains open and ready to serve your legal needs.

Message us online or contact our office today at (860) 900-0900 for free consultation with one of our experienced DUI attorneys.

What are the Penalties for DUI in Connecticut?

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is against the law in Connecticut along with all other states. If you are charged for DUI, you will be facing some very harsh consequences if you are convicted. Drunk driving is far more than a traffic citation, it is a criminal charge, which could either be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. If you are convicted, you may be facing heavy fines, jail time, loss of driving privileges, and other penalties.

What Constitutes DUI in Connecticut?

Before we talk about the specific penalties for a drunk driving conviction, it is important to understand what makes you legally drunk in the state of Connecticut.  This can happen in one of two ways:

  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol to the degree that your ability to drive is appreciably affected. This could be determined by a law enforcement officer based on your driving (e.g., weaving in and out of lanes, running red lights, etc.), failing a field sobriety test (FST), slurred speech, and other behaviors.
  • Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that exceeds the maximum allowable under the law. This is referred to as “per se DUI”.  For drivers of non-commercial vehicles who are over the age of 21, the legal BAC limit is 0.08. For drivers of commercial vehicles, the legal limit is 0.04, and for drivers under the age of 21, the legal limit is 0.02.

The penalties for a DUI conviction depend largely on how many offenses you have within the past 10 years:

First Offense

A first-time DUI is punishable with fines of up to $1000, between 48 hours and six months in jail, a 45-day driver’s license suspension, and installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle for one year. In many cases, the jail time can be suspended in exchange for 100 hours of community service.

Second Offense

A second-time DUI is punishable with fines of up to $4000, between 120 days and two years in prison, a 45-day driver’s license suspension, and installation of an IID in your vehicle for three years. Mandatory community service and a mandatory drug and alcohol assessment are also required for individuals who are convicted of a second or subsequent DUI.

Third Offense

A third DUI conviction within 10 years is punishable with fines of up to $8000, one to three years in prison, a permanent driver’s license suspension, mandatory community service, and a mandatory drug and alcohol assessment as well as treatment if it is ordered by the court.

DUI with Aggravated Circumstances

If there are aggravated circumstances, DUI offenders may face enhanced penalties above and beyond what is listed. Here are some possible examples of DUI with aggravated circumstances:

  • A DUI accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury;
  • Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher;
  • Child endangerment;
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license;
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident;
  • Fleeing a police officer.

Implied Consent in Connecticut

Connecticut has what is known as “implied consent”. This means that by applying for a driver’s license in the state, you are giving your consent to be chemically tested if law enforcement reasonably suspects that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse the mandatory chemical (breath, blood, or urine) test, you can have your driver’s license automatically suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Potential DUI Defenses

It is important to understand that being arrested for DUI does not necessarily mean you will automatically be convicted. There are possible defenses that could be successful, depending on your case, to have the charges dismissed or, at the very least, obtain a reduction to a lesser charge.

Some potential defenses for DUI include:

  • The officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over for drunk driving and/or they did not have probable cause to arrest you;
  • Your BAC was under 0.08 at the time you were pulled over, but it had risen to above the legal limit by the time you were tested (this is known as the “rising blood alcohol” defense);
  • The field sobriety tests (FSTs) were unreliable or inaccurate;
  • Unreliable or inaccurate chemical test results;
  • You were not driving the vehicle;
  • You only drove the vehicle because of an emergency or legal necessity.

Arrested for DUI in Connecticut? Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Being convicted for drunk driving can incur very harsh consequences. In addition to criminal penalties, you may also find it more difficult to obtain employment, housing, financing, admission to college, and the right to carry a firearm.  With so much at stake, you need strong legal counsel in your corner fighting hard to protect your rights and interests.

At the Apex Law Firm, we have extensive experience successfully defending clients who have been charged for DUI and other types of criminal offenses in Connecticut. We are a veteran-owned firm that truly understands the meaning of the word “service”, and we are ready to serve you.

Call our office today at (860) 900-0900 or message us through our online contact form to schedule a discreet and confidential consultation. You may also stop by our Hartford County office in person at your convenience.

What Happens in CT if I Get a 2nd or 3rd DUI?

Connecticut has some of the harshest of DUI laws in the nation. In fact, according to a 2015 study, the Constitution State is the third strictest with regards to drunk driving offenses, behind only Alaska and Arizona. Penalties for a DUI conviction in CT can include heavy fines, jail time, loss of your driving privileges, probation, and other consequences.

A first-time conviction in Connecticut is a misdemeanor. A first-time DUI conviction (also commonly referred to as OUI or operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs) also carries fines of up to $1000, a 45-day driver’s license suspension followed by one year with an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, and up to six months in jail, 48 hours of which may not be suspended or reduced, and 100 hours of community service.

Second and Subsequent DUI Offenses in Connecticut

A second-time DUI/OUI conviction within ten years after a prior conviction for the same offense is a felony, with fines of up to $4,000, a 45-day driver’s license suspension followed by three years with an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, and up to two years in prison with a mandatory minimum of 120 days in prison, 100 hours of community service and treatment if ordered by the Court.

For a third or subsequent DUI/OUI conviction, things get far worse. Fines can be as high as $8000, your driver’s license can be permanently revoked, and up to three years in prison, one year of which may not be suspended or revoked. The Court may suspend two years of the three-year sentence, with the possibility of reinstatement if the defendant violates probation. As for the permanent driver’s license revocation, the driver can petition the Connecticut DMV to have his/her driver’s license reinstated after two years. There is no guarantee this petition will be granted, however, and the driver must prove that they are no longer a danger to the public safety or welfare.

Aggravated Circumstances and Enhanced DUI Penalties

The penalties for first, second, third and subsequent DUI/OUI convictions can be enhanced if there are aggravated circumstances that accompany the arrest. Examples may include:

  • A DUI accident involving serious bodily injury or death;
  • Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than double the legal limit;
  • Child endangerment;
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license;
  • Leaving the scene of an accident;
  • Fleeing a police officer;
  • Refusal to submit to the required chemical (breath, blood, or urine) test after the DUI arrest.

Beyond the criminal and administrative penalties, a second, third, or subsequent DUI conviction can incur other negative consequences for your life and future. For example, having a criminal conviction on your record can make it more difficult to obtain housing, employment, and college scholarships. If you are a commercial driver, a DUI conviction can jeopardize your livelihood, even if you are arrested for drunk driving while you were off duty. And if your job requires a professional license, you may lose your license once your licensing board becomes aware of your conviction.

A felony conviction in Connecticut is very difficult to get removed. The only way is to apply for an expungement pardon with the CT Board of Pardons and Parole. You must wait five years from the date of your felony conviction to apply.

Speak with a Skilled Connecticut DUI Defense Lawyer

Being arrested for a second, third, or subsequent DUI in CT is serious business. Prosecutors are not nearly as forgiving the second or third time around, and you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner who thoroughly understands the inner workings of the Connecticut criminal justice system and the most effective DUI defense strategies for your situation. At The APEX Law Firm, LLC, we have several years of experience successfully defending clients charged for DUI in Connecticut. We work tirelessly on your behalf, exploring every potential legal avenue toward the goal of mitigating the circumstances as much as possible.

Call our office today at (860) 900-0900 to schedule a confidential and discreet consultation. You may also send us a message through our online contact form or stop by our Hartford County office in person at your convenience.

DUI and the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and this a time for joy and celebration. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, we have several opportunities to spend time and make special memories with our family and friends. During these celebrations, alcohol is often involved. Unfortunately, this causes more people to get behind the wheel while intoxicated at this time of year, resulting in far too many holiday drunk driving accidents.

Every holiday season, hundreds of individuals are killed because of drunk drivers. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 4,000 people were killed in DUI crashes in the past five years during the month of December. And during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, approximately 300 people die each year in alcohol-related crashes.

Connecticut law enforcement is well aware of the increased likelihood of drunk driving during the holidays, and they have taken steps in recent years to crack down. This holiday season, you can expect:

  • A higher number of police officers patrolling the streets, especially on nights such as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (commonly known as “Blackout Wednesday), Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve;
  • An increased number of DUI checkpoints;
  • Expedited field sobriety test (FST) procedures.

The penalties for DUI in Connecticut are harsh, even if this is your first time. First-time DUI offenders can face fines of up to $1,000, an automatic 45-day driver’s license suspension, two days up to six months in the county jail, probation with 100 hours of community service, and the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for one year (at your expense).

If this is your second DUI offense, the penalties are even worse. In addition to an automatic driver’s license suspension, you could be looking at up to $4,000 in fines, up to two years in prison, and an ignition interlock device in your car for three years. For a third offense, fines are higher, jail time is longer, and your driving privileges could be permanently revoked.

Aside from the direct penalties, there are other consequences for drunk driving convictions that could adversely impact your life in numerous ways. For example, if you are convicted for DUI, you may find it harder to apply for housing, obtain employment, qualify for a scholarship to college, or obtain/renew a professional license. A DUI may even impact your child custody case.

DUI and the Holidays: Be Prepared and Stay Safe this Year

With so much on the line, it’s just not worth it to get behind the wheel after you’ve had too much to drink. Here are some ways to ensure that you (and your loved ones) can stay safe and avoid a DUI arrest this holiday season:

  • Bring a Designated Driver: You have probably heard it 1,000 times before, but it bears repeating. If you go out with friends and you plan to drink, bring someone along to be your designated driver. If no one in your group wants to commit to staying sober, then at least have someone you can call for a ride if things get out of hand.
  • Bring Money for a Cab or Uber: If no one you are out with is sober and there’s nobody you can call for a ride, bring money along to get a cab or Uber. Don’t worry about leaving your car where it’s parked, you can always go back and get it in the morning.
  • Book a Hotel or Motel Close to the Party: Another way to avoid a DUI is to stay somewhere close to the party, so you don’t have to drive anywhere. If you can find a reasonably priced hotel or motel close by, this might be a good option.

Arrested for DUI? Contact an Experienced Attorney Right Away

Maybe you have already slipped up and gotten behind the wheel with too much to drink. If this has happened and you were arrested for drunk driving, you need skilled legal representation in your corner to ensure that your rights are protected, and that the situation can be mitigated as much as possible.

At The APEX Law Firm, LLC, we understand that good people make mistakes, and we are aggressive advocates on behalf of each client we serve. We have extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the Connecticut DUI laws, and we know the most effective defense strategies to minimize the negative consequences. For a personalized consultation with one of our seasoned Connecticut DUI attorneys, call us at (860) 900-0900 or visit our Hartford County office in person. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

Walk the Line

Why field sobriety tests are inconclusive, and how you might be paying for it in the end

Even if you’ve never been in a DUI situation before, chances are you have seen it on TV or in the movies – A police officer pulls over a young man or a frazzled business woman and asks the driver about where he or she was heading or coming from; the response in return, isn’t what the officer was looking for. The driver is asked to step out of the car and to perform a series of strange tasks in an effort to determine if they are sober or not. The problem here: a lot of those tasks are things that the average person has never tried before.

You don’t have to be drunk to stumble when attempting to walk in a straight line—especially in a moment of stress, or while wearing heels. Putting your finger on your nose might seem simple enough, until you try it with a police officer watching you, in the dark, with flashing lights all around you. Stress can cause people to act in ways they normally wouldn’t have and being pulled over by the police creates an environment that is designed for you to fail. Field sobriety tests are not a fair assessment of whether you are intoxicated.

Stress Test

Being charged with a DUI is very serious. You will rarely, if ever, successfully pass a field sobriety test because they so not count the things you do correctly, only the things you do incorrectly. You need to contact a DUI attorney immediately.

If you are pulled over for a field sobriety test, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  1. Never explain to the officer that you “only had” a couple of drinks. This hands the officer evidence that you were drinking, and even if you are to maintain that you are under the legal limit, you are providing evidence against your case.
  2. Take a deep breath and calm down. The worst thing you can do in a field sobriety test is panic. This will make everything more difficult to handle and will likely prevent you from properly completing the tasks.
  3. Call a DUI attorney right away. Make sure that you log everything that happened when you were taking the field sobriety test and that you partner with an attorney as quickly as possible. The sooner you have an attorney on your side, the faster your case can be made in your favor.

Getting pulled over for any reason is a stressful experience, but being charged with a DUI is potentially life-changing. If you were recently pulled over and put through a field sobriety test, only to be charged with a DUI, then contact The APEX Law Firm to schedule a free-consultation. Having a DUI attorney on your side can make all the difference.