If you have been arrested for Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”), also known as DWI or OUI, it is important to know your rights, the law, and how the process works in Connecticut. We are located in Middletown, Connecticut and we handle DUI cases throughout the state.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU ARE PULLED OVER FOR DUI?
By its nature, a DUI arrest will typically occur after being pulled over for some other traffic offense, such as speeding or failure to maintain the proper lane. In some cases, a police officer has a hunch that you are driving under the influence and then tries to find a reason to pull you over to investigate. These are called pretextual stops. A DUI attorney will review the circumstances surrounding the motor vehicle stop to ensure that the stop had a valid and legal basis. If the stop is not proper, there may be grounds to challenge it by the attorney filing a motion to suppress or dismiss.
The police generally know that most people who drive under the influence do so at predictable times or on certain holidays. For example, if you are driving at 2 a.m. in the morning on a Friday, a cop is likely to immediately question whether you have been drinking alcohol. If you have been pulled over for DUI and a police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence he will look for specific signs:
1. Are your eyes bloodshot and glassy?
2. Do you smell of alcohol or marijuana?
3. Are you struggling with simple tasks, such as retrieving your license, registration, or insurance card?
4. Are you nervous?
5. Are you slurring your speech?
Oftentimes, a DUI arrest police report will also include a statement that the operator admitted to having some alcohol: “a few beers” or a “glass of wine with dinner.” You should never lie to the police, but you have the right to remain silent and are free to refuse to answer certain questions whenever you are pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence. The police officer may ask you to exit the vehicle if he believes there is enough evidence to continue the motor vehicle stop to investigate whether you are driving under the influence.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU ARE ASKED TO EXIT YOUR VEHICLE?
This is a critical stage, and the police officer’s subjective beliefs to further the stop should be scrutinized by your DUI attorney. Typically, you are asked to exit the vehicle to perform one or more standardized tests, known as Field Sobriety Tests. However, it also allows the police officer to further observe your movements and speech to provide further support to his belief that you are driving under the influence.
You have the right to refuse to take any Field Sobriety Tests. If you do perform the tests at the police officer’s request you should be sure to take note of the weather conditions, the conditions of the surface on which you were asked to perform the tests (such as: was it sandy, wet, sloped, or poorly lit?), the officer’s statements to you, and your own belief as to how you performed. Remember, there is a good chance that your entire DUI arrest, including the Field Sobriety Tests, will be caught on the dashcam video recorder in the police officer’s cruiser. Be respectful, be sure you understand the police officer’s commands, and be sure to make the police officer aware of any medical or other issues that may affect your ability to perform the tests. It may be very difficult for your attorney to later say that you were suffering from some affliction that prevented you from properly performing the tests if you do not make it clear to the police officer at the time you are arrested for DUI.
Unfortunately, experience tells us that if you are asked to perform the Field Sobriety Tests, and you fail one or more of the tests, then the police officer may very well arrest you for DUI. If you are arrested, your car will likely be towed, and you will be brought back to the station for processing and to take a blood alcohol test.
WHAT IS A BREATHALYZER? SHOULD I REFUSE A BREATH TEST?
Once arrested, you will be asked to consent to a breath test using a breathalyzer or asked to give a blood or urine sample. However, the breath test is the most common. The breathalyzer is a device that attempts to calculate the amount of alcohol in your blood by requiring you to blow into a machine. These machines are far from perfect and are subject to user error and bad readings.
As the attorneys investigating your DUI case, we at Aeton Law have had many occasions when we received late night phone calls from clients arrested for DUI asking whether to take the “test” or to refuse it. The answer depends on the situation of each case. On the one hand, providing a breath sample may be the best evidence the State has against you. On the other hand, in Connecticut, the law also allows a jury to use your failure to provide a sample against you, which is called an adverse inference. In addition, if you refuse a breath test, you may be forced to have the interlock ignition device installed in your motor vehicle for a longer period of time than if you had provided a sample. Your attorney may be able to walk you through the various factors to consider when deciding whether to provide a breath sample. If you have already given a sample or refused to do so, an experienced DUI attorney will be able to determine if there is a reason to challenge bad test results or mitigate any damage done by your refusal to take a breath test.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I AM ARRESTED FOR DUI?
A DUI arrest triggers events in two different areas: the Department of Motor Vehicles and Connecticut’s criminal courts. These are two different venues. For example, if you are arrested in Cromwell for DUI, then you will appear in the G.A. 9 courthouse in Middletown, which is part of the Middlesex Judicial District. This court will hear the criminal aspects of your DUI arrest. However, the Department of Motor Vehicles, with a main office in Wethersfield, will handle the administrative penalties associated with your DUI arrest.
It is vital to remember that you will also get correspondence from the DMV, including a notice of your license suspension and your rights to request a hearing. Do not ignore any notice you have received from the DMV simply because you already appeared in criminal court or received a court date. You must separately request a hearing with the DMV to contest your license suspension. The DMV hearing is called an Administrative Per Se hearing and its purpose is limited and, oftentimes, it can be very technical. At Aeton Law, we can provide representation in both the criminal courts and at DMV Administrative Per Se hearings.
Call Aeton Law if you have been arrested for DUI. We handle cases in Middletown, Hartford, New Haven, Vernon/Rockville, and throughout the state of Connecticut.