Studies indicate that alcohol is involved in half of all the automobile accidents in the United States. This statistic has been a primary motivation behind the ever-tightening laws regarding drinking and driving, and the consequences can be long-lasting and cumulative. As a result, it is essential that a person charged with a driving under the influence consult an experienced Stamford DUI / DWI lawyer to assure that the first offense is handled properly.
At one time, a person who received a DUI / DWI could accept the licensing restrictions and pay any applicable fines and then move on with their lives if no one was hurt. If they were pulled over several years later, that old conviction did not necessarily trigger harsher penalties. This is no longer the case. In fact, courts will now look back as far as ten years for any prior alcohol-related driving citations, even those received in a different state. Multiple offenses during that time frame can result in a felony charge for “persistent driving under the influence.” This is only one of the reasons that it is critical to consult a Stamford DWI lawyer and keep your record clean.
Another change which has occurred is the statutory lowering of acceptable blood alcohol content (BAC) levels. Drivers over 21 can be cited if the BAC is .08% or higher; under the age of 21, the limit drops to .02%. Tougher requirements exist for commercial drivers, and anyone holding a CDL can be charged with a DUI with a BAC of .04% or higher.
Connecticut is also one of several states that utilizes roadside checkpoints to enforce DUI / DWI laws. If you encounter one of these and are requested to take a sobriety test, then you must comply or risk losing your license even if you are not driving erratically, have no open containers in your car, and have done nothing to create probable cause for a sobriety check. This is part of the implied consent provision you agreed to as a condition of receiving a driver’s license. However, you cannot be cited for turning onto another route prior to reaching the checkpoint in order to avoid the delay.
In 2011, the Connecticut legislature passed two laws which shorten the suspension period for a first DUI / DWI conviction, and lengthen the amount of time an offender will have to use an ignition interlock device. For a first conviction, the suspension period has dropped to 45 days and the driver will be restricted to driving only vehicles with an interlock, something formerly not required until the second offense.
If this is your first arrest, then your Stamford DUI / DWI lawyer can determine whether you qualify for a Pretrial Alcohol Education Program. There are certain limitations regarding who can participate, and interested parties must submit an application. The application and your record will be reviewed before the court decides if you will be allowed to participate. Once such a program has been successfully completed, you can request a dismissal of the charges and your record can be wiped clean. Participants are required to attend alcohol intervention classes, counseling sessions and agree to enter a substance abuse treatment program if it is recommended. The license suspension will continue during the treatment phase.
While these programs are a matter of law, they require legal filings which must be done in accordance with guidelines; failure to act in a timely manner can eliminate any option of restoring your clean record, and you simply cannot expect the Prosecutor’s office to represent you in this manner. It is their function to prosecute the law, not mount a defense. To obtain the best outcome, you need a qualifiedGreenwich DUI attorney in your corner.
Mark Sherman, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Fordham University of Law, has been a member in good standing of the Connecticut, New York and Florida state bars since 1998. He has offices in Stamford, Connecticut and New York, New York, and practices in both locations. He has been recognized as a top business professional by the Fairfield County Business Journal and has been honored as a “Super Lawyer” by both New England and Connecticut Super Lawyers for 2011 and 2012.