Fairfield County Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer
While the law is becoming increasingly harsh for individuals charged with operating under the influence, the fact is that many people from all walks of life have faced DWI/DUI charges. The important thing is that you get a diligent and aggressive Stamford DWI/DUI lawyer on your side.
The law firm of Koffsky & Felsen, LLC, serves Connecticut and New York, offering aggressive and thorough DWI/DUI representation. With more than 35 combined years of experience, our attorneys do everything possible to get the best outcome in your alcohol-related offense. Contact us online or call our office at 203-327-1500 to schedule your free consultation.
Two Separate Legal Processes After a DWI/DUI Arrest
When you are charged with DWI/DUI, there are two separate legal processes. Both happen very quickly and can impact your life tremendously in the short term and in the future.
The Criminal Charges
Drunk driving is treated as a serious crime in both Connecticut and New York. We have more than 35 combined years of experience handling the more complicated aspects of DWI litigation:
Important Facts about Connecticut's DUI/OUI Laws
Driving in Connecticut is considered a privilege, not a right. If you are charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs you may face serious consequences. You may lose your driving privileges, have to participate in an Alcohol Education Program, and may face having a criminal record and/or incarceration. Here are some important facts regarding Connecticut's DUI/OUI laws:
1. Connecticut's Implied Consent Law states that any person who operates a motor vehicle is presumed to have given his or her consent to a test to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer, provide a urine sample or blood test, your license will be suspended, regardless of your case's outcome in court.
2. If your BAC is .08 or above, you are considered legally intoxicated. If you are under 21 years of age a BAC of .02 or above is over the legal limit. Even without any evidence of your BAC, you can be charged with a DUI, if there is evidence that your ability to drive has been compromised because you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
3. The State of Connecticut provides for the implementation of sobriety checkpoints. Sobriety checkpoints allow police to briefly stop vehicles at specific, highly visible locations to determine if a driver is impaired. Police may stop all or a certain portion of drivers. If they have reason to believe you are under the influence, law enforcement may require you to submit to Field Sobriety Tests.
4. Boats and motorcycles are considered vehicles, too! You can be charged with a DUI for operating a boat, motorcycle or all-terrain vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
5. The following will occur if you are arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence:
- You will be detained by police and read your rights.
- Your vehicle may be towed, at your expense.
- You will be taken to a police station by a law enforcement agent.
- The arresting officer, acting on behalf of the DMV Commissioner, will revoke your driver's license for a period of 24 hours and submit a report to the DMV.
- If you consent to a chemical alcohol test and that test registers a BAC of .08 or above (or .02 or above for a driver under 21 years of age), you will be charged with OUI.
- If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer, and law enforcement has reason to believe, through their observations and/or the administration of Field Sobriety Tests, that you are under the influence, you will be charged with OUI.
- You will be detained and likely will be required to post a bond to secure your release.
6. There are two separate DUI proceedings:
- A Court proceeding where your attorney will help you resolve your charges; and
- A DMV Hearing ("Per Se" Hearing) where your attorney can challenge the administrative suspension of your license.
7. There are two (2) ways to lose your license:
1. Through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you are charged with OUI, law enforcement notifies DMV of your arrest. DMV will suspend your license should you fail your breath, blood or urine test or refuse to submit to the test. You will receive a Notice of Suspension from DMV prior to your license suspension and if you want to contest the suspension, you must request a hearing with DMV's Administrative Per Se Unit within seven days.
2. Through a conviction for OUI. If you are convicted of a DUI, notice of the conviction is sent to DMV, and the following penalties are imposed:
- First Conviction: 45 day license suspension. You must install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle for at least one year following restoration of your license. You must pay DMV a fee of $100 before installation, and are responsible for monthly payments for the device.
- Second Conviction: 45 day license suspension. You must install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle for three years following restoration of your license. During the first year of the three year period you may only drive to and from work, school, a substance abuse treatment program, IID service center, or appointment with a probation officer.
- Third Conviction: Permanent revocation of license and you must wait at least two years from the date of revocation to request a hearing for reconsideration.
8. If you are a first time offender, you may be eligible for the Alcohol Education Program (AEP). The AEP is a pretrial diversionary program, and if the Court grants entry into the Program and you successfully complete it, the charges will be dismissed. After you apply for the AEP, the Bail Commissioner's office performs a background check to determine whether you are eligible for participation. You will also be evaluated by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), and DMHAS recommends a level of treatment should the Court grant the program. The recommendations are:
- A 10-week educational program($350.00 program fee);
- a 15-week educational program ($500.00 program fee); or
- an independent in- or outpatient treatment program approved by the Bail Commissioner (you must pay for any private treatment program unless the Court decides otherwise).
- You may also be required to take part in a Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel (VIP) and will be required to pay a fee to attend.
9. If you are convicted of a DUI/OUI in Connecticut and are placed on probation, you will have to pay a fine, participate in substance abuse treatment and perform community service.
10. Even if your case is dismissed, if your license is suspended through DMV, notice of the suspension will remain on your driving history for up to ten years. This information may be discovered during background checks, and may impact your ability to get a job or to maintain or obtain automobile insurance, and may result in an increase in your insurance premiums.
The good news: it is possible to be acquitted of DUI (and drugged driving)
If you've been charged with a DWI or any other crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Anyone in Fairfield (or anywhere) who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle is responsible to ensure that they are capable of operating it.
An interesting recent case addresses one of the possibilites of an encounter with the authorities after a DUI: what happens if a person ends up behind the wheel of a vehicle after *accidentally* becoming impaired? In 2014, Although Senator Robert F. Kennedy's daughter agreed with her that she accidentally took Ambien before operating a vehicle, they still charged her with drugged-driving because she continued to drive even after she realized she had mixed up her medication. She had reportedly mixed up her medication: it is reported that she accidentally took an Ambien pill after confusing it with her thyroid medication (similar in size, shape and color). Ms. Kennedy had faced the possibility of as much as a year in prison and loss of driving privileges - but the jury found her not guilty and she was acquitted of all charges of driving under the influence of drugs.
DUI case thrown out after alcohol tests come back negative
There was a funny case in 2014 (well, not so funny to the person who was charged) about a man who was arrested for blowing 0.00 into a breathalyzer. The officer asked the driver, who was pulled over for running a red light, to perform a field sobriety test. The officer then claimed the driver failed it - though the driver had nothing to drink that evening. Then the driver was taken to the police station and given a Breathalyzer test, which came back at 0.00 - and the driver was then arrested for a DUI. The man was also given a blood test - which came back negative for both drugs and alcohol several months later. Yet, authorities defended the arrest, reportedly claiming that he could have been under the influence of *another drug* undetectable by a blood test. The case was dismissed, but it shows that anything is possible when you're pulled over for suspicion of DUI - and that you should call an attorney as soon as possible if you are.
The most important thing is not to panic - but to see an attorney.
Wherever a defendant is in the process, whether it is at the initial arrest, an outstanding charge, or pending sentencing, you should face the authorities directly with the help of a proactive legal defense. A looming DUI or DWI charge can be intimidating, but running away can only make things worse before the court date.
IN 2012, there was the case of one Greenwich woman who attempted to flee police and then faced multiple charges (including DWI). She was first reported by management of a Riverview restaurant for being "intoxicated and disorderly" on the premises, and officers issued her a citation for "creating a public disturbance." But less than an hour later, police returned to the restaurant to find her recklessly driving her car, nearly crashing into pedestrians in the parking lot. When she spotted the officers in pursuit, she left her vehicle and fled on foot - only to be arrested in a bank parking lot nearby. she then faced charges including reckless driving, DWI, and interfering with an officer.
There was another amazing case where the driver and passenger *both* got charged with drunk driving - at the same time! In 2013, two sisters were accused by law enforcement of driving under the influence in the same car. The younger sister was driving when an officer instructed her to stop - but it is reported that the sisters changed positions just before the responding officer approached the vehicle. Because the keys were in the ignition when each person was sitting in the driver’s seat, both were charged and arrested and charged with DUI. The older sister failed two breath tests, but the younger one refused to take the Breathalyzer. They may have learned that behaving inconsistently or erratically can make drunk driving charges worse, or more likely.
Koffsky and Felsen helps those who face drunk driving charges - even if there are additional charges in play - and explores every angle to have charges and sentencing either reduced or dismissed outright. We specialize in drunk driving defense can help those tempted to run from their charges face a court appointment head-on, with confidence and experience on their side.
An experienced attorney can help you with your Court hearings and with your Administrative Per Se Hearing as well. Here at Koffsky and Felsen, LLC we understand how intimidating and concerning a DUI charge can be and with over 40 years of combined experience handling these types of cases, we are ready to help you get on the right track towards restoring your driving privileges.
Contact a Stamford, Connecticut, DWI/DUI Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a DWI offense, we can defend you from these charges, helping you get the best outcome possible. Either call our law firm office at 203-327-1500 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.