Facing DUI Charges in Connecticut?
There is nothing routine about DUI cases in Connecticut. DUI cases often involve some of the most complex issues of law. Each case is different. Some involve accidents, injuries, prior offenses, prior out-of-state offenses, high blood alcohol content (BAC), refusals of chemical tests, field sobriety tests, drugs other than alcohol, and additional charges.
At The Sills Law Firm, LLC, our lawyers have 20+ years of experiences handling all varieties of DUI cases throughout the state of Connecticut. Attorney Jonathan Sills authors Connecticut DUI Law, an annually published volume in the Connecticut Practice Series. The book is a comprehensive guide on handling the DUI case in Connecticut designed for the legal practitioner. Other defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges and DMV hearing officers regularly consult Attorney Sills’ writing on DUI law. Attorney Sills has appeared in national broadcasts such as The Today Show and is regularly featured in local newspapers such as The Hartford Courant regarding DUI Issues. Attorney Jonathan Sills has handled thousands of DUI cases and has tried to verdict more DUI defense cases than most other lawyers in Connecticut. More often than not his clients hear the words “Not Guilty!”
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Connecticut’s DUI Laws
When you take a drink and then go out and drive in Connecticut you face getting yourself involved with a law—the DUI law—that can have a devastating impact on your life. It is a series of laws that has become so complicated and its punishment so severe that law professionals are often bewildered by it.
Operating Under the Influence is the only motor vehicle offense that gives rises to two completely separate matters:
- A matter at the criminal court in which you could face jail, probation, community service, fines, and license suspension; Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a makes it a criminal offense to operate a motor vehicle with an elevated BAC of .08% or more, or while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- An administrative hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles in which you could be subjected to a license suspension and ignition interlock device (IID) requirements regardless of what happens at criminal court; Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227b makes it an administrative violation to either refuse or fail a chemical alcohol test after being arrested for DUI
You probably have just realized that a DUI in Connecticut means you face 2 forums:
- The criminal court system with jail, fines, probation and license suspensions
- The Department of Motor Vehicles Administrative procedure where license suspension is automatic—that’s right automatic—unless you request a hearing and your license or privilege to drive in Connecticut is restored.
The hearing at the DMV is called the Administrative Per Se Hearing. You can contest the automatic suspension. If you win, there is no suspension. If you lose, the suspension goes into effect and before the DMV will reinstate your license, you are required to install an IID. However, you have to contact the DMV to schedule this hearing. Your failure to do so results in the suspension taking effect.
All is not lost. Well, almost all is not lost. If your license is suspended, you may be eligible for a Special Operator’s Permit to drive to and from work and in the course of your employment. The DMV may also allow you to drive for school or medical appointments.
Connecticut DUI Investigations
The drunk driving laws of Connecticut and the United States Supreme Court make it easy for you to be pulled over. Police officers are allowed to pull you over based on a “reasonable articulable suspicion” that you are committing a crime, i.e. driving under the influence. They can pull you over and ask you a lot of questions without first having advised you of your constitutional rights. This is called an investigative detention. You have the right to refuse to answer any questions. In fact, you have the constitutional right to refuse to answer the questions and to tell the officer to either arrest you or let you go. The likelihood is that you will be arrested! However, if you answer the questions you will be incriminating yourself and more than likely arrested. You cannot win!
During and after the stop the officer is observing, listening and using his sense of smell to determine if you have consumed any alcohol. The officer is also evaluating your dexterity, sense of balance and the sound of your speech—slurring of words. If you are asked if you consumed a drink containing alcohol, the officer will more than likely ask you to get out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests.
The police officer’s observation of your driving, his stopping you, talking with you and testing you is all being done to establish probable cause to arrest you. Once he asks you out of the car, he will have you perform the following field sobriety tests:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
- The Walk and Turn Test
- The One Leg Stand Test
The police officer will give you these tests after instructing you what to do in order to determine whether or not you can do several things at the same time—a type of diverted attention test. The officer is trying to determine if alcohol has affected your ability to listen to instructions and then perform the tests according to those instructions. Can you walk and chew gum at the same time? If you cannot, the officer will arrest you for DUI. If you can, he will more than likely arrest you anyway. Again, you cannot win.
After you are arrested, the officer will take you to the police station and offer you either a breath, blood or urine test. Connecticut law says that if you drive in Connecticut you give your implied consent to take one of these tests if asked by the police officer. The officer chooses the test, you do not! He will usually ask you to take a breath test. Before asking you to take a test he gives you an advisement with regard to the testing procedure and what happens if you take the test or refuse to take the test. He then gives you the opportunity to call an attorney.
Hiring the Right Connecticut DUI Defense Attorney
The experienced DUI attorneys at The Sills Law Firm, LLC will always defend you in both the criminal court case and the administrative DMV hearing. This is essential to any comprehensive DUI defense in Connecticut. Before retaining a Connecticut DUI Defense Attorney, you will want ask the following questions:
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN CONNECTICUT DUI CASES?
DUI is a highly technical and complex area of the law. You will want to inquire how experienced the attorney is in defending DUI cases in Connecticut. You will want to know how many DUI cases he or she has defended, whether her or she is published in the area of DUI law, and what percentage of the attorney’s caseload is devoted to DUI and criminal cases.
At The Sills Law Firm, LLC, our attorneys have successfully defended thousands of DUI cases of all varieties. Our attorneys author the leading text book on DUI Law in the state of Connecticut. Nearly 100% of our practice is devoted is defending the rights of those accused of DUI and other criminal offense.
The Sills Law Firm, LLC has access to experts involved in every aspect of DUI Law. These experts enable its’ lawyers to analyze and research every aspect of a client’s drunk driving case in order to provide the client with the best defense possible. These experts include medical doctors, investigators and forensic experts, all of whom work with The Sills Law Firm for your benefit.
HOW FAMILIAR ARE YOU WITH THE COURT AND DMV WHERE MY CASE WILL BE HEARD?
Although the DUI Laws are the same in all Connecticut courthouses, all prosecutors, judges, and court personnel do not approach DUI cases the same way. The handling of DUI cases and court procedures vary throughout the State of Connecticut Geographical Area (G.A.) Courts. The attorneys at The Sills Law Firm, LLC have successfully defended DUI cases in every court in Connecticut. In doing so, we have gotten to learn the tendencies and values of the prosecutors and judges in every Connecticut courthouse. We have appeared in DUI cases in the following courts:
|G.A. 1 at Stamford||G.A. 2 at Bridgeport||G.A. 3 at Danbury|
|G.A. 4 at Waterbury||G.A. 5 at Derby||G.A. 7 at Meriden|
|G.A. 9 at Middletown||G.A. 10 at New London||G.A. 11 at Danielson|
|G.A. 12 at Manchester||G.A. 13 at Enfield||G.A. 14 at Hartford|
|G.A. 15 at New Britain||G.A. 18 at Torrington||G.A. 19 at Rockville|
|G.A. 20 at Norwalk||G.A. 21 at Norwich||G.A. 22 at Milford|
|G.A. 23 at New Haven|
This also holds true for the administrative DUI hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles. There are four locations that hear DMV Per Se Matters in Connecticut: Bridgeport, Old Saybrook, Waterbury, and Wethersfield. There are about 8-10 DMV Hearing Officers at any given time who will decide whether or not to suspend your driver’s license or privilege to drive in the state of Connecticut. The lawyers at The Sills Law Firm, LLC have appeared at every DMV location and before every DMV Hearing Officer. We have gotten to know which DMV Hearing Officers are receptive to certain types of legal arguments and evidence so that we can present your DUI DMV defense in the most effective manner possible.
WHAT IS YOUR DUI DEFENSE TRIAL EXPERIENCE?
Perhaps the most important question to ask your Connecticut DUI defense attorney is to detail his or her DUI defense trial experience. While very few DUI cases actually go to trial, if you want the best possible result, it is important for prosecutors to know that your attorney is willing to go the distance and will not back down. Prosecutors have no incentive to offer defense attorneys their best deal if they know the attorney will advise the client to accept whatever offer is on the table to avoid trial.
Many attorneys, who profess themselves to be DUI Defense Attorneys in Connecticut, have not tried a single DUI case to verdict. Prosecutors are acutely aware of this, and as a result, those attorneys have little to no negotiating power. At The Sills Law Firm, our attorneys have tried many DUI cases and felony DUI cases to verdict. Prosecutors throughout the state of Connecticut know this. As a result, we have had many more DUI cases nolled, dropped, dismissed, or reduced without having to go to trial. In some cases, trial is unavoidable. In those cases, you will want to know that you have an experienced Connecticut DUI trial lawyer in your corner.
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI in Connecticut, the very first thing you should do is speak with an experienced DUI attorney.