West Hartford DUI/DWI Defense Lawyer

West Hartford DUI/DWI Defense LawyerNo one ever expects to be pulled over and arrested for drunk driving. It is a shocking and unpleasant experience. But it’s happened, and now you have to deal with it.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in West Hartford, you need to act quickly to preserve your driver’s license. According to Connecticut law, you have 7 days to request a hearing after you’ve received a notice of license suspension from the DMV.

Please contact me right away to discuss the options you have to preserve your driver’s license and prepare to defend your West Hartford DUI charge in court. Take advantage of a free case evaluation from an experienced West Hartford criminal defense attorney. That’s me!

Can I Beat My West Hartford DUI?

Yes, there are many possible defenses in a DUI case. When I evaluate your specific case after discussing it with you, and carefully reading the police report from your arrest, I can suggest how I would fight the charges. A few possible options are:

  • I can challenge the legality of the stop. The police must have a good reason to pull you over.
  • I can challenge all the specific elements of the crime. If you weren’t pulled over directly, did the police actually see you driving?
  • I can challenge the validity of the breath test.
    • How long was it when the breath test was given after your stop? That can affect the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream.
    • Is the breathalyzer machine itself up to date on its maintenance?
    • Can the police provide maintenance records?
    • Can the police establish that the operator is fully trained and is currently certified to administer breath tests?
    • Did they follow the required procedures for operating the device and getting a valid breath sample to establish your BAC?
  • I can challenge the validity of the field sobriety tests.
    • Did the officer follow his exact training in administering the field tests? Did he score the tests according to the standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)?
    • Did he have you perform all tests on a well-lit, dry, flat surface?
    • Did he have you perform a nine step walk and turn test on an actual line (notan imaginary line)?
    • If you have shoes with heels or other inappropriate footwear, did he give you a chance to take them off?
    • Did he screen you as a valid candidate for these agility tests? Did he ask if you were over 65, overweight, or have back, neck, leg, knee, or foot problems, or other medical conditions that could affect your agility and balance?

You see, there are many areas to explore in fighting a DUI charge. Every case has some good things about it, and virtually any case can be beaten.

Call or contact me for advice on how I will fight and may be able to beat your Connecticut DUI charge.

What Is a DUI Charge?

In Connecticut, a DUI is an abbreviation for the legal term is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, also commonly known as a DWI, or a drunk driving charge.

There are two different ways to be charged and convicted of what is a commonly called a DUI.

  1. Under Connecticut’s per se law, you can be convicted for simply having a BAC above 0.08 percent, which is sufficient evidence of guilt, regardless of whether or not you were drunk or impaired.
  2. The other way to be found guilty of DUI/drunk driving in Connecticut is if they can find sufficient evidence to prove that you were impaired by alcohol or drugs while operating a motor vehicle, aka drunk while driving. Evidence of impairment relies primarily on the police officer’s testimony as a witness stating that you appeared impaired by your actions in driving on the road, or immediately afterward during field sobriety tests or other observations.

Both of these methods have defenses for them.

Connecticut DUI/DWI Laws & Penalties

There are two distinct types of penalties in a Connecticut DUI case.

First, you need to be concerned with your immediate license suspension if you fail a breath test or refuse to take one.

Second, the criminal court penalties of you are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in Connecticut. You face additional license suspension time, as well as possible jail time, fines, community service, alcohol treatment programs, and more.

Any drunk driving related charge can dramatically impact your life, even if you aren’t at serious risk of jail time. Probation, travel restrictions, fines, and for most people, loss of driver’s license can be a tremendous problem.

For an immediate phone consultation on any DUI charge, please call me immediately. I answer my own phone, and I can talk to you right away.

License Suspension after your West Hartford, CT DUI Arrest

Immediately after you are arrested on a drunk driving / DUI charge in Connecticut, you are subject to a license suspension based on a failure of the breathalyzer, or refusal to take the test. The license suspension is an administrative penalty issued by the Connecticut DMV.

Refusing to Submit to a Breathalyzer test

If you refuse to take a breath test, the license suspension is longer than if you had failed with a very high BAC level.

Refusal penalties are in addition to any license suspension penalties as a result of being found guilty or convicted of the DUI/DWI charge.

Under 21 Breathalyzer Failure Penalties

The penalties for failing a breath test if you are under 21 (the legal drinking age) result from a BAC reading of 0.02 or higher. The penalties are:

  • For a first offense, your license will be suspended for 90 days.
  • For a second offense, your license will be suspended for 9 months.
  • For a third offense, your license will be suspended for 2 years.

Connecticut DWI/DUI Penalties

First offense DUI:

  • Jail for 6 months. Either 48 hours mandatory minimum must be served, or a suspended sentence with 100 hours of community service
  • Fines of $500-1000
  • Driver’s license suspended for 1 year.

Second offense DUI:

A drunk driving charge is considered a second offense if you have a previous conviction within 10 years.

  • 2 years in jail. 120 days mandatory minimum must be served, along with 100 hours of community service
  • Fines of $1,000-$4,000
  • Driver’s license suspended for 3 years (or until age 21, whichever is longer)

Third offense DUI:

A drunk driving charge is considered a third offense if you have at least one previous conviction within 10 years (of the two convictions).

  • 3 years in Jail. 1 year mandatory minimum must be served, along with 100 hours of community service
  • Fines of $1,000-$4,000
  • Driver’s license suspended permanently (revoked).

What to Do If You’ve Been Accused of DUI in West Hartford

If you are pulled over or questioned following an accident and accused by a police officer of driving under the influence, the first thing to remember is to remain calm. Don’t attempt to argue with the police or get angry.

If they ask you for your driver’s license and vehicle registration, comply with the request. Follow all the officers’ requests in a calm, respectful manner. The officers are observing you for signs of intoxication, such as the smell of alcohol or marijuana, slurred speech, or unsteady movements.

You can refuse to answer a police officer’s questions about where you are driving from or whether you’ve been drinking. If the officers ask you to perform field sobriety tests or blow into a Breathalyzer, you may also refuse to do so. If you choose not to answer questions or perform tests, always remain respectful and courteous toward the officers.

If you fail field sobriety or breathalyzer tests or refuse to take them, you will likely be arrested on suspicion of DUI. Officers may continue to question you after they put you under arrest. Politely decline to answer any questions and request to speak with an attorney. Make sure you speak your request loudly enough so that it is recorded by any recording devices.

Your Rights After a DUI Arrest in West Hartford

If you are arrested for DUI, always remember your Miranda rights. If you are arrested, the officers will read your Miranda rights to you and ask you if you understand them.

First, you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions asked of you. It is critical that you do not answer any questions about where you’ve been, since any statements you give may be used against you in a later trial.

Second, you have the right to an attorney and to speak with an attorney before being questioned. If you ask the police to speak to an attorney, they must stop questioning you until you’ve had an opportunity to speak with a lawyer. However, if you start a conversation with the police about your arrest while waiting to speak to an attorney, the police may resume questioning you.

You have the right to refuse to participate in field sobriety tests. You also have the right to refuse to take a Breathalyzer test, or to submit to blood alcohol testing. You should speak with an attorney before deciding whether to take the test, since doing so may make you eligible for favorable disposition of your case. However, if you refuse the test, your driver’s license may still be suspended even if you are ultimately not convicted of DUI.

What to Expect If You’ve Been Arrested on a DUI Charge in West Hartford

When you are arrested on a DUI charge, you will be transported to the police station, searched upon your arrival, photographed, fingerprinted, and placed in a holding cell. After you are processed, the police may continue questioning you or ask you to submit to a breath, urine, or blood alcohol test after reading you the implied consent advisory. The police will also give you the opportunity to call a lawyer, especially if you request to speak with one.

Eventually, the police will release you from the police station after your bail is paid or on a promise that you will appear for your assigned court date. Your driver’s license will also be suspended for a 24-hour period following your arrest so that if you are intoxicated you can sober up before driving again.

Once you’ve retained Field Law Office, LLC to represent you, I’ll begin investigating your case, reviewing your performance and results on field sobriety and blood alcohol tests, the qualifications of the arresting officer and test administrators, and the reliability of the police’s testing equipment. At your pretrial conference, I’ll negotiate for a disposition of your case that avoids jail time.

If I can’t obtain a satisfactory disposition of your case, I’ll obtain discovery from the state and move to exclude certain evidence against you. If I can’t reach a favorable plea agreement for you, your case may go to trial. I will fight to make the state prove every element of your charges beyond a reasonable doubt and hopefully obtain a not guilty verdict.

For more information on your options for your defense, contact me for a free legal consultation from a West Hartford criminal defense lawyer. There’s no obligation.