Connecticut DUI Attorneys at The Sills Law Firm Answer your Questions
At The Sills Law Firm, LLC, our Connecticut DUI attorneys are highly skilled and highly knowledgeable in defending DUI cases throughout the state of Connecticut. Our legal team is well versed in all aspects of the DUI arrest commencing with the initial stop, through field sobriety testing and decision to arrest, and concluding with breath testing or chemical testing.
Our attorneys have been featured in national media broadcasts such as The Today Show. Local media outlets such as the Hartford Courant and the Connecticut Law Tribune often turn to us for our knowledge and opinion on all aspects of Connecticut’s DUI law.
Attorney Jonathan Sills has been recognized as one of the top DUI trial attorneys in the state of Connecticut. He authors the textbook CT DUI Law which is widely considered the leading textbook on DUI law in Connecticut. The book is regularly used by other lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and DMV hearing officers as a guide how to handle to DUI cases.
Please continue reading below as our top Connecticut DUI Defense Attorneys answer some of the most common questions regarding DUI.
Essential Information for those Accused of DUI
What happens if the police officer didn’t have a reason to pull me over?
Generally speaking, a Connecticut police officer is only permitted to stop a person if he or she has a reasonable articulable suspicion that a crime has or is about to be committed. However, a police officer may initiate a traffic stop if he or she observes any violation of our traffic laws. Most commonly, DUI suspects are pulled over failing to maintain their lane or for failing to observe traffic control signals. However, a DUI case can begin with a traffic stop for something as benign as the light illuminating your license plate being out. In some situations, police are permitted to conduct sobriety checkpoints in which they do not need any reason at all to stop your vehicle.
If your attorney can show that the police officer lacked a reasonable articulable suspicion to stop your vehicle and that you were stopped illegally, he or she may be able to get certain evidence suppressed and possibly even the case dismissed. Under the Exclusionary Rule, any evidence that is obtained as “the fruit of a poisonous tree” must be suppressed. If the DUI stop was illegal (the poisonous tree), any evidence obtained thereafter (the fruit) must be suppressed. In most DUI cases that will then leave the State with no evidence to prosecute you and will force them to nolle or drop your case and then force the Judge to dismiss the case.
The Exclusionary Rule only applies in the criminal setting however. It does not apply to your administrative DMV matter. Therefore, it is possible to have your criminal DUI case dismissed because of an illegal stop, but still have your license suspended for either refusing or failing a chemical alcohol test.
Can I refuse to take a field sobriety test?
Yes, you can. In Connecticut, a police officer cannot force you to take a field sobriety test. However, most people are unaware of this and agree to take the field sobriety tests anyway. Most individuals in this situation view the field sobriety tests as their opportunity to prove to the officer that they not drunk and are OK to drive.
If you refuse to submit to the standardized field sobriety tests you will likely be arrested anyway. Connecticut courts have ruled that field sobriety tests are not required for the police to arrest you for DUI. In addition, Connecticut courts have ruled that the fact finder – either a Judge, Jury, or DMV Hearing Officer – may draw a negative inference from your refusal to submit to the field sobriety tests. Basically, if you were not drinking and were not under the influence, why would you not at least attempt the field sobriety tests?
Whether to submit to a field sobriety test is often one huge catch-22. They are difficult tests which can be affected by any number of external factors. So it is very possible to not be drunk, perform poorly on these tests, and get falsely arrested for DUI. However, if you do not submit, you will likely be arrested anyway.
What happens if the police did not have probable cause to arrest me?
Even if the police were legally entitled to stop your vehicle, your Connecticut DUI Defense Lawyer can still challenge the legality of the arrest if the police officer did not have probable cause to arrest you. Probable cause exists when the facts and circumstances within the knowledge of the officer and of which he has reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution to believe that a crime has been committed.
Some Connecticut courts have ruled that if all of the facts relied on by the arresting officer were indistinguishable from otherwise innocent conduct, then the police officer lacks probable cause to arrest for DUI.
If your attorney can convince the prosecutor that there was not probable cause to arrest you, then he or she will be forced to drop your charges and then the Judge will dismiss the case. Additionally, if your lawyer can convince the DMV Hearing Officer that there was no probable cause, then your license will not be suspended and you will not be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device.
Should I refuse the breathalyzer?
This is often one of the most difficult decisions you will need to make in any DUI investigation. There is no right answer across the board to whether or not you should submit to the breath test. It is a very case specific inquiry. The easiest case for a Connecticut DUI Defense Attorney to defend is the case where you submit to a breathalyzer and test well under the legal limit. Often the most difficult type of DUI case to defend is the case where you submit to the breath test and test well over the legal limit. Refusals are often somewhere in between.
Many factors go into whether or not you should submit to a breathalyzer. If it is your first offense, it is generally advisable to submit to the breath test as you will likely qualify for court diversion to have your criminal charges dismissed, and you would then only be required to have an IID for the minimum 6-month term. However, if you know you have been drinking and believe you will fail the breathalyzer, in many situations it is advisable to refuse the test. These include situations where you are under the age of 21, were involved in a serious accident with injuries, or have prior convictions for DUI.
The police never read me my Miranda Rights. Will my DUI case be dismissed?
Your case cannot be dismissed for this reason. This is one of the biggest misconceptions of our criminal justice system. Your Miranda rights to do not apply unless and until you are in police custody and subject to police interrogation. In addition, the police are not required to read you your Miranda Rights; they can verbally summarize them for you or provide you with them in writing. As long as they advise you of your rights, their obligation is satisfied.
If the police violate your Miranda Rights, the proper legal remedy is suppression of evidence obtained after or as result of the Miranda violation – not dismissal of your charges.
Can I really go to jail?
Yes, you can and prosecutors will try to put you in jail. Often times people charged with DUI underestimate how serious the state takes DUI charges. With public pressure from special interest groups such as Mother’s Against Drunk Driving “MADD,” long gone are the days where a police officer will simply drive you home since you only live right around the corner, or the prosecutor will throw your case out because you are single mother who stands to lose her children.
For a first offense DUI, you can be sentenced up to 6 months in jail with 48 hours mandatory unless the judge agrees allow you to perform community service in lieu of jail time. For a second offense DUI, you can be sentenced to a maximum of 2 years in jail with 120 days being minimum mandatory. For a third or subsequent DUI, you can be sentenced to a maximum of 3 years in jail with 1 year being mandatory.
Now more than ever it is imperative that you secure the best possible DUI defense to give yourself the best possible chance to avoid jail time.
Will I at least be able to drive for work?
If it is your first offense, most likely. Otherwise probably not. The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles offers a Special Operator’s Permit to certain individuals whose license is suspended as a result of a DUI. The permit, if approved, will allow you to drive for work, school, and medical appointments during your DUI suspension. To be eligible for a Connecticut Special Operator’s Permit, your official driving history must not show any prior alcohol related suspensions or three or more moving violations. The DMV will also need to verify your employment prior to issuing you the permit. This is done by either contacting your employer directly, or if you are self-employed, by verifying your self-employment with the Connecticut Secretary of State.
Will I need to install an ignition interlock device?
Ignition Interlock Devices or IIDs are now mandatory as a condition of your license being reinstated after every DUI related suspension – even for first offenses. If your license is suspended for DUI, you will be required to install and maintain an IID for anywhere between 6 months and 3 years before the DMV will allow you to drive without an IID. Before the DMV will reinstate your license, you must submit proof that you have installed an IID in your vehicle. If you do not own a vehicle, the DMV will allow you to install the IID in someone else’s vehicle provided that person permits you do so. After your 45-day DUI suspension expires, the DMV will not allow you to drive until you install an IID.
Its only my first offense, do I need a lawyer?
If you have a vested interest in your future, want to make sure that your rights are protected, and want to ensure the best possible outcome, you will want to retain a Connecticut DUI Defense Attorney. Not only should you have an attorney, you have the right to an attorney. So important is the right to an attorney that it is guaranteed by both the United States and Connecticut Constitutions.
When you represent yourself, not only do you give up your right to an attorney, you also give up your right to remain silent which puts you at a significant disadvantage to the prosecution backed by the full power of the state of Connecticut. Our DUI laws are some of the lengthiest and most complex laws we have on our books. A proper defense requires specialized knowledge and training.
It was Abraham Lincoln, the famous trial lawyer, who once said, “A man who represents himself has a fool for a client.”
Will the DUI go on my record?
In Connecticut DUI cases, you have two records at stake: you driving record and your criminal record.
If your license is suspended administratively the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227b for either refusing or failing a chemical alcohol test, then the suspension will be maintained as part of your official driving record for at least 10 years. If you participate in the Alcohol Education Program or are convicted of DUI pursuant to § 14-227a, there will be separate notation on your driving record for at least 10 years.
If you are convicted of DUI in criminal court, your criminal record will reflect the DUI conviction. If it is a first offense DUI conviction, it will be recorded as a misdemeanor. Second and subsequent DUI convictions will be recorded on your criminal record as felonies. Three years after a misdemeanor DUI conviction and five years after a felony DUI conviction, you can apply for a pardon, which if granted, would result in the conviction being removed from your criminal record.
The Sills Law Firm, LLC, at the Forefront of Cutting-Edge DUI Defense
Our firm is proud to have 20+ years of collective experience in defending all varieties of DUI cases. We are familiar the judges and prosecutors in every DUI court in Connecticut. We will do everything possible to secure the most positive outcome for your case by preparing and implementing an innovative personalized strategy for you.
DON’T HESITATE: CONATCT OUR FIRM NOW TO BEGIN YOUR DUI DEFENSE.