If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, please be advised that the State of Connecticut takes those offenses extremely seriously and over the last few years has made changes to make the consequences more severe, both in criminal court and with the DMV.

Two Ways to Prove

The state can pursue what is called a "per-se" violation, meaning that you blew over a .08 BAC and that you were "per se" unable to drive; or, if you refused to blow, the "common law" method of prosecution which will include evidence of failure of field sobriety tests. The field sobriety tests include:

  • one-legged stand,
  • horizontal gaze nystagmous, 
  • Walk and Turn
  • Reciting Alphabet backwards

They may also include evidence of odor of alcohol, slurred words and/or glassy eyes.  A per-se violation will result in an automatic suspension of your license.  If you operate a vehicle while under suspension, you will be subject to a 30-day mandatory minimum period of incarceration.

Alcohol Education Program

If it is your first offense, you may be eligible for Alcohol Education, which can be either 10 or 15 classes, depending on the extent of your alcohol problem after an evaluation.  You will also be ordered to attend a MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Impact Panel and potentially asked to complete community service during the period of the program.  If you complete all of the requirements your case will be dismissed. 

Please keep in mind that this does not mean that your DMV issues disappear.  Your license will still be suspended and you will have a requirement to operate a vehicle with an Interlock Device for a period of 1 year for your first offense.  If you operate without one, you are exposed to that 30-day mandatory minimum incarceration.

Mandatory Minimums for Subsequent Offenses

If you are a subsequent offender, there are mandatory minimum sentences that may not be suspended or reduced by the court.  Additionally, prosecutors are severely limited in their discretion in dropping these cases.

  • 2nd offender (But technically 1st conviction)- 2 day mandatory minimum, $500 fine
  • 3rd offender (2nd conviction)- 120 days mandatory minimum, $1,000 fine
  • 4th offender (3rd conviction)- 1 year mandatory minimum, $2,000 fine

If you have a case where there is no BAC and the state is relying on a common-law method of prosecution, have your attorney evaluate the case to examine your chances at trial.  Many times issues of nystagmus and the walk and turn or one legged stand are affected by physical impairments and are ripe for litigation at trial.

Be advised, you may be ordered incarcerated pre-trial or, if you fail your probation be incarcerated.  See the following example of a case handled by Attorney Paz: