People charged with DUI in Connecticut are often under many misconceptions about the law and the process itself. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet about DUI and generally everyone knows someone who’s been previously charged with DUI. The problem is people often get their information about DUI from the wrong sources. These people need to consult with an experienced Connecticut DUI defense lawyer to get the proper information and dispel the following misconceptions.
It’s Only Motor Vehicle Offense so it’s not that Serious
Connecticut law used to look at DUI as a motor vehicle violation. However, today it is actually a criminal offense. If you get convicted, you’ll have a permanent criminal record and you’ll have to say you’ve been convicted of a crime. A first conviction in Connecticut is a misdemeanor. A second or third conviction in Connecticut is a felony.
People are Often Mistaken what it means to “Operate” a Motor Vehicle Under Connecticut’s DUI Statute
If I only had a dollar for every time someone has told me, “Nobody saw me driving” or “I wasn’t even driving…” Connecticut’s DUI law does not even require driving let alone require a witness to your driving. Connecticut’s DUI law requires only that a person “operate” a vehicle. Under Connecticut law, a person does not need to drive or even start a vehicle to operate it. It is enough that a person has taken the first step to manipulate the motive functions of the vehicle. This can be merely inserting the key into the car’s ignition or being in control of a remote key fob while in a position to start the vehicle. Additionally, operation of a motor vehicle does not have to be proven through direct evidence; e.g. Officer Blue testifies that he saw Al Cohol drive a car. It can be proven by circumstantial evidence; e.g. Officer Blue locates an abandoned car driven off the road, then sees Al Cohol, the registered owner of the car stumbling down the street 100 feet from where the car went of the road, and infers that Al Cohol was the operator of the car.
People Don’t Always Understand Blood Alcohol Concentration “BAC”
BAC is a scientific concept and can sometimes be difficult to understand. Alcohol affects individuals differently. Things like weight, stomach contents, sex, and some have even said race can alter one’s blood alcohol concentration. Some people may have medical conditions that cause them to metabolize alcohol at a much slower rate than the “normal person.” This may cause you to have a much higher BAC than someone who drank the same amount as you but does not have the same medical condition. It is not enough to show that your BAC is elevated by factors in addition to alcohol consumption. You’d have to show that the medication or medical condition created a false positive on the breath machine which is difficult to do with the newer, more advanced machines. Breathalyzers assume that you are the “normal person” and as a result have built-in margins of error.
People Are Commonly Mistaken about the Penalties for Multiple DUI Charges
I think that when people come in to see a lawyer, there can be a few factors about the charge that they are confused or misinformed about. Many times, one of the misconceptions is when you hear, “I work with a man, and he had five DUIs, and he never saw a day in jail. Here, this is only my second DUI, and you’re saying the prosecutor wants me to go to jail.” People often say I “had” or “got” a DUI, but the proper terminology here is “convicted” or “conviction.” A “conviction” means that you pled guilty in court or were found guilty after a trial by a judge or a jury. A person may have been changed with 5 DUIs in his or her life, but never had a single conviction. Conversely, a person may have only been charged with DUI a single time in his or her life, but was unfortunate enough to have been convicted. That first person with 5 prior DUIs is likely eligible to have his or her current charge dismissed while that second person with the single previous DUI is now facing a felony DUI with mandatory jail time if convicted.
If facing Connecticut DUI charges, it is important you enlist the legal guidance of a DUI defense attorney immediately.
If you are charged with a DUI, contact our Connecticut DUI attorneys at The Sills Law Firm to discuss your legal options. Our firm is not afraid to challenge police reports or witness testimonies on your behalf.
The Sills Law Firm defends Connecticut criminal cases statewide and maintains offices in Hartford and Waterbury. In addition to Hartford and Waterbury, the Firm regularly appears in the following courts: Stamford, Danbury, Derby, Meriden, Middletown, Manchester, Enfield, New Britain, Torrington, Rockville, Milford, Bridgeport, and New Haven.