Representation at Your DMV Per Se Hearing
In Connecticut, if you have been charged with DUI, you will have to deal with the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles “DMV.” In addition to the penalties you face at criminal court, you will face a license suspension and Ignition Interlock Device “IID” requirement from the DMV.
Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227b makes it an administrative violation to either refuse or fail a chemical alcohol test after being arrested for DUI. Under this law, commonly referred to as Connecticut’s Implied Consent Law, the DMV will independently take action against your driver’s license or privilege to drive in the state of Connecticut – regardless of what happens at criminal court. You have the right to an Administrative Per Se DMV Hearing to contest the potential ramifications to your ability to drive.
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The Initial Suspension Notice
After your arrest for DUI in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a, the arresting police officer will submit a copy of his or her report to the DMV. The DMV will then process your case and send you a Suspension Notice. The Suspension Notice will detail the following:
- Reason for Proposed Suspension (either failing or refusing a chemical alcohol test)
- Duration of Proposed Suspension (always 45 days)
- Length of Proposed IID Term (6 months – 3 years)
- Effective Date of Suspension (usually 30 days after your arrest)
- *Note if you have a prior § 14-227a DUI Conviction, your suspension will be Immediate
- Final Date to Request a DMV Administrative Per Se Hearing to Contest the Suspension (7 days from the date on the suspension notice)
Requesting a DMV Per Se Hearing
In Connecticut, license suspensions under the Implied Consent Law are processed by the Administrative Per Se Hearings Unit at the Wethersfield Department of Motor Vehicles. While you have the right to a DUI DMV Hearing, the DMV only gives you a limited window to request a hearing. If you do not request a hearing by the date specified in the hearing notice – 7 days from the date the suspension notice was issued – then you waive your right a hearing and the DMV will automatically suspend your license and require IID.
Once you request a hearing, the DMV will schedule an initial hearing. Depending on where you were arrested, the hearing will take place at one of the following locations: Bridgeport, Old Saybrook, Waterbury, or Wethersfield. If you do not have a prior conviction for DUI, you will be entitled to one-time continuance and a 15 day extension to your effective date of suspension. This 15 day-extension is often helpful for your Connecticut DUI Attorney to best prepare for the hearing. It will also give you more time to have a work permit in place should DMV uphold the suspension.
Your Administrative DMV Per Se Hearing
The DMV Hearing is a completely separate proceeding from your criminal case. One has absolutely nothing to do the with the other. As a result, it is possible to have your criminal DUI dismissed, but still lose your license and be forced to install an IID after your DMV DUI Hearing. Conversely, it is possible to win your DMV Hearing and still be convicted of DUI at criminal court. At criminal court, you face penalties like jail, fines, probation and community service. At your DMV Hearing, only your license and driving privileges are at issue.
The DMV Hearing is controlled by the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. The standard for suspending your license is “substantial evidence.” This is a much lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required to convict someone of DUI at criminal court. At the DMV Hearing, the arresting police officer is not required to testify against you. The DMV will generally accept the police officer’s written report and accompanying DMV “A-44 Form” as the case against you.
If you were arrested for DUI without a warrant, a Connecticut DMV Hearing officer will consider the following issues:
- Did the police officer have probable cause to arrest you for DUI?
- Were you placed under arrest?
- Did you refuse to submit to a chemical alcohol test or did you submit to a test which showed an elevated blood alcohol content “BAC” greater than .08%?
- Were you operating a motor vehicle?
If you were arrested for DUI by warrant after having blood drawn at a Connecticut Hospital, your hearing will be limited to the following issues:
- Whether the police officer had probable cause to arrest for DUI
- Whether such person was placed under arrest
- Whether such person was operating the motor vehicle
- Whether the results of the blood sample indicate an elevated BAC above 08%
- Whether the blood sample was obtained in accordance with § 14-227a(k)
At the hearing, your DUI Defense Attorney will be permitted to present evidence that is relevant to contesting any of the above issues. You have the right to be present and testify at the hearing. However, because this is an administrative proceeding, you are not required to attend and your DUI lawyer can attend on your behalf. In many instances, if your lawyer is making a legal argument and you will exercise your right to remain silent, your lawyer will advise you not to attend the hearing. The DMV Hearing Officer will not make a decision at your hearing. After the hearing, he or she will review all of the evidence presented and issue a written decision to both you and your lawyer.
If the DMV Heating Officer finds any one of the above issues in your favor, then he or she will issue a written decision restoring your license. There will be no suspension and no IID requirement. However, if the Hearing Officer finds against you on all of the above issues, then he or she will issue a written decision suspending your license for 45 days and requiring an IID for 6 months to 3 years thereafter.
Contesting your DMV Per Se Suspension
Your Connecticut DUI Attorney can contest the driving penalties you are facing at your DMV Suspension Hearing. Some ways your attorney can do this include the following:
- Attacking the reliability of the A-44 Form and other police reports
- Presenting technical legal arguments based on the DUI laws and prior DUI cases
- Attacking the sufficiency of evidence regarding your BAC tests, Field Sobriety Tests, BAC Refusal, or Operation of a Motor Vehicle
- Subpoenaing and cross-examining witnesses (including police officers)
- Presenting expert testimony and reports
- Subpoenaing audio and video evidence
- Presenting medical records
- Subpoenaing records from the Connecticut State Toxicology Lab
The Sills Law Firm, LLC – Fighting to Retain Your Driving Privileges
Your license, and likely your livelihood, is at stake. The Connecticut DUI lawyers at The Sills Law Firm, LLC will always represent our clients during DMV hearings. We author the leading textbook, CT DUI Law, on DUI defense and have some of the highest success rates at Connecticut DMV Hearings. Our ultimate goal is to protect your driving privileges, keep you on the road, and keep you working.
Contact us today, for skilled representation at your DMV hearing,