Do I Need a DUI Attorney for a First Offense?

Posted on: March 13, 2019

In response to a DUI charge, responding quickly, effectively, and efficiently can be accomplished with the assistance of a DUI attorney.  In Connecticut, it is illegal to operate any motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, or with an elevated blood alcohol content. To operate a motor vehicle under the influence means that the operator’s ability to drive is affected to an appreciable degree.

An elevated blood alcohol content is .08 percent or higher for drivers age 21 and over and .02 percent for operators under age 21. Connecticut differs from other states because a single DUI charge actually contains two different cases.

The first case is purely administrative, usually impacting the driver’s license. The second is criminal, usually affecting the driver’s criminal record. Fortunately, for most first-offense DUIs, the charge is usually a misdemeanor but can be higher if somebody was injured or property was damaged.

The administrative case

By refusing to take or failing the administered alcohol test, the driver’s license is automatically suspended for 45 days. In addition, Connecticut law requires the driver’s car to have an ignition interlock device installed:

  • If the driver is under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher, the IID is installed for at least one year
  • If the driver is age 21 with a BAC of .08 or higher, the IID is installed for at least six months
  • If the driver refuses to take an alcohol test, the IID is installed for at least one year

Usually, the longest suspension will result from the driver refusing to take the test.  In fact, Connecticut penalizes drivers for refusal to take the test because all drivers automatically give their “implied consent” to a blood, breath or urine chemical testing simply by driving on Connecticut roads.

Typically, the driver’s license is suspended 31 days after the arrest. However, after receiving the suspension notice, hearings are allowed to challenge the suspension.  During these hearings, a DUI attorney can either challenge the license suspension or attempt to convince the court to allow driving to and from school or work.  

The criminal case

The criminal proceeding is completely separate from the administrative case, with far different penalties. Even for first-time DUI offenders, criminal convictions can result in:

  • Incarceration for up to six months
  • 48 hours in jail or a suspended sentence and a required 100 hours of community service
  • Monetary fines between $500 and $1,000
  • Suspension of a driver’s license for an entire calendar year

To avoid a DUI conviction, many first-time offenders can enroll in an Alcohol Education Program.  These sorts of programs require participants to attend classes and pay the program fee. After completing the program, the criminal DUI can be dismissed one year after participating in the program.

Ultimately, facing a first-time DUI charge is not the end of the world.  However, based on the different cases with all sorts of different requirements, assistance from a DUI attorney makes the entire process go much smoother.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with us, call our New Haven office at (203) 624-6115. Call Knight & Cerritelli today.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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