Getting a DUI is terrifying, and if you have never gotten one before, you probably have many questions on your mind. If you have gotten a first-time DUI charge, it is important to understand what this means by Connecticut law. The good news is that a first-time DUI is not nearly as serious as other DUI cases. Because of this, the repercussions will be much less significant, and defending this case is less difficult. Here is everything you need to know if you have been charged with a first-time DUI.
First-Time DUI Offense in Connecticut
States like Connecticut have strict laws around driving under the influence, which can result in DUI charges. It is important to understand that being under the influence does not just include alcohol. You could be considered driving under the influence if you are taking marijuana, illegal drugs, or prescription medications. Anything inhibiting your driving ability could set you up for a first-time DUI offense. This includes anything that interrupts concentration, your ability to stay awake, or decision-making skills. For first-time DUI convictions, this includes both criminal and administrative penalties. The DMV is alerted if you have been arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence. The DMV will then act by suspending your license if you refuse a chemical test to check for drugs or alcohol or if you fail a chemical test. These tests could include a chemical breath test, blood test, or urine test at the election of the arresting officer. Most DUI arrests in Connecticut rely upon a breath sample, the least accurate method to measure BAC.
One of the main penalties for a first-time DUI arrest is that your driver’s license is suspended for 45 days. The suspension will take place 30 days after your arrest by the DMV. To reinstate your license, you must agree to have an IID installed in your vehicle for at least six months to a full year. For drivers under the age of 21, the IID has to be installed for a year minimum. Another thing to remember is that you can face criminal DUI penalties in Connecticut for first-time offenses. If you are convicted or plead guilty to the DUI charge, you could receive a jail sentence of 48 hours to six months. If you don’t receive jail time, you may receive a six-month sentence with around 100 hours of required community service. You may also have to pay a $500 to $1,000 fine, along with the 45-day license suspension and IID installation. A DUI conviction will go on your permanent record, creating a criminal record even if it is your first offense. You may be able to eventually have the record expunged, but it is important to recognize the long-term impacts of having a criminal record. First-time DUIs are still not as serious since it is your first offense. There is a chance that you could avoid all of these penalties if you are not convicted of the DUI.
DUI Vs. DWI
There are a lot of legal terms when it comes to cases regarding operating a vehicle. Because of this, it could be confusing if you have received some kind of charge regarding driving under the influence. That is why it is a good idea to understand the difference between a DUI vs. a DWI. Connecticut has many different acronyms for drivers who are caught driving under the influence. This includes acronyms like DUI, OWI, and DWI. Because of this, you could receive a DUI or DWI charge interchangeably for the same kind of crime. This does not impact the penalties or anything else concerning the case. Remember that this is not the same for every state since different acronyms could include different charges.
How to Defend First-Time DUI Charges
If you were arrested for a DUI charge in Connecticut, you want to defend yourself since there are many penalties, even though this is your first DUI offense. Some of the more serious penalties could include jail time and a criminal record. It is important to start creating a defense to lessen or avoid the repercussions completely. Here are the steps you need to take to defend a first-time DUI for the best results.
Hire a Lawyer
After being charged with a DUI, you first need to look for a criminal defense attorney. Specifically, look for an attorney that has experience defending DUI cases. Hiring an attorney is highly recommended if you have been charged with a first-time DUI. Your chances of avoiding serious repercussions will be better with an experienced Connecticut DUI attorney representing you. An attorney will represent you and provide the best case to put you in a more positive light.
Apply For the IDIP Program
If you have received a first-time DUI charge, an option applies specifically to the situation. First-time offenders can access the IDIP or the impaired driver intervention program. This Connecticut Diversionary program gives drivers a second chance after receiving a DUI. If you are accepted into the program, this will be considered your penalty for driving under the influence. The charges will be effectively erased from your record so you don’t face long-term repercussions. You won’t receive jail time, community service, or significant fees.
The IDIP is a program that covers 14 weeks of one-hour-long classes. There are no tests or exams. You just have to attend the classes and pay attention until their completion. Keep in mind that not everyone will be able to get into this program, even if they are first-time DUI offenders. There is a process involved that your criminal defense attorney can help you to have a better chance of acceptance into the program.
Go to Trial
In most instances, a first-time DUI case will not go to trial. Most people can get into the IDIP program or face a conviction. You can have your attorney defend you if you do not believe you are guilty of this charge. If this happens, your attorney will gather evidence and argue on your behalf before a jury. The jury will ultimately decide whether you are guilty or not in court. Some people choose this option if they believe they were not impaired when pulled over. Going to trial may also be a good option if you believe that the police violated your constitutional rights when they stopped your vehicle and gave you a DUI charge. You will want to consult with your criminal defense attorney to see what they think will be the best option for your situation.
How to Get into the IDIP Program
For many, their best option is to apply for the IDIP program. This provides a solution where you don’t have your attorney defend you in court or plead guilty to the charges. But getting into the IDIP program is not an incredibly simple process and isn’t guaranteed. Here are the three steps you need to take if you want to try to get into this program.
Apply In Court
The first step of applying for the IDIP program is to see if you are eligible. The court will decide whether your charges allow you access to this program. Some examples of situations where you would be eligible include driving under the influence when you are under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol content that exceeds .02. Or you could be eligible if you are boating while intoxicated. To determine eligibility, you must appear in court with a written application for the program. This is something that your criminal defense attorney will handle for you, and you only must answer the questions that the judge asks. This includes whether this is your first DUI offense or if you have applied for the IDIP program in the past 10 years. Remember that giving dishonest answers could result in a felony perjury charge.
There is a $250 application fee to get into the program, and the court will set a date for a hearing. You must also schedule a screening interview while you are still in court. Remember that this entire process can take several weeks, depending on the situation.
Have the Interview
The second step is a screening interview at the IDIP facility. This is a 20 to 30-minute interview with a Connecticut Renaissance or Crossroads counselor. They will evaluate whether you apply or deserve to be in the program. The interview usually consists of different questions where there are no wrong answers. Your attorney will have instructed you on some of the questions you will be asked and the best way to answer them.
Go to the Court Hearing
When you go to your next court date, you will find out if you have been granted access to the impaired driver intervention program. You and your criminal defense attorney will attend together, and the prosecutors will be allowed to object to your admission. They may object to your admission if you have a very high blood alcohol content reading or level. This is also common if you were disrespectful to the police officers or driving at a high rate of speed during the arrest. There are several reasons why they may object to this, and your criminal defense lawyer can always counteract some of their evidence. Any victims and arresting officers will also be allowed to attend the hearing. This application hearing is critical to getting into the impaired driver intervention program. The judge will consider many aspects of the case, including your history and the factors involved in your arrest. The judge will hear accounts from anyone involved in the incident and decide on your application. If accepted into the program, you will have to agree to attend all of the classes on time until the completion of the program.
Things to Remember If You Get a First-Time DUI Charge
If you are arrested for a first-time DUI charge, you may not know how to take this all in. For most people, this is a scary situation where you may not know how to react or behave. Here are some examples of things you should do if this is a situation that you are currently in.
Corporate With the Police
Whenever you are arrested for anything, one of the main things to remember is that you must cooperate with the police. Whether you believe they are in the right or not, it is never a good idea to cause a scene, as that can lead to additional charges such as interfering with police. You should take whatever test they offer if they believe you are under the influence. Remember that you are not legally required to communicate with the police about the situation. You do not have to answer their questions or provide evidence against yourself if you do not want to. In fact, it is best to do the bare minimum and follow their instructions without giving anything else away. Anything else you say can be held against you and applied as evidence in your case later.
Don’t Assume the Worst
When you are arrested for a DUI in Connecticut, it is easy to let your mind spiral out of control. But it is important to remember that this is the lesser DUI charge you could receive. There is a very good chance that you will not be convicted or receive any of the worst penalties. You need to keep a clear head and follow the police instructions and hire a criminal defense attorney to defend you. Ask for any police documentation so that you have something to reference regarding court hearings and other instructions you may need to follow. This will also be useful later, and you can give it to your attorney so they can use it to defend your case.
If you receive a DUI charge, you must become your own investigator. It is true that when you hire a criminal defense attorney, they will gather evidence on your behalf to defend your case. But it is always a good idea to do your due diligence and gather what evidence you can access. For instance, you may have gone to a restaurant before driving home when arrested. Find your restaurant receipt or get it from the restaurant as proof that you did not order alcoholic beverages. You can also see if any locations you were at that day have surveillance footage that could show that you were not under the influence. You may also want to get information from any bystanders who could later be used as witnesses on your behalf. If you fail to get the evidence you think is important, you can ask your attorney later. They have connections you may not have, so it will be easier for them to get important evidence to support your case.
Stay Out of Trouble
You must present yourself in the best light possible if you have received a first-time DUI charge. The judge will look at your behavior and history when it comes to a conviction or getting into the IDIP program. Because of this, it is very important to be on your best behavior after getting this charge. Do not drive under the influence or put yourself in a situation where you could break other laws. It is imperative to not drive during license suspension periods due to a DUI or without an interlock device. Doing so can result in a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail. It will reflect poorly on you if you receive any other charges while your first-time DUI charge is still pending.
Getting a first-time DUI charge isn’t always as serious as it may sound. You can defend DUI penalties in several ways so that you do not get a criminal record or have to spend time in jail. You have to take just a few steps to defend yourself to get the best possible outcome. Contact us today at Allan F. Friedman Criminal Lawyer to schedule a free consultation regarding your first-time DUI case details.