Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a – Operation While Under the Influence of Liquor of Drug While Having an Elevated Blood Alcohol Content
Operation under the influence in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a, can involve alcohol, drugs, or both. Also, you can be charged for operation under the influence for driving while your ability is impaired by prescription medication or medical marijuana. This statute establishes a general prohibition against operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor and or drug as well as establishing a measurable blood alcohol content limit for legal operation.
Often clients get confused about what "operation" of a motor vehicle is. Sleeping off a few drinks while laying in the back seat of your car can constitute the operation of a motor vehicle if you have a keyless ignition system, and the key is in the vehicle. Similarly, sitting parked with the engine running is considered "operation" for purposes of the statute.
Violations of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a are not only a criminal offense punishable by jail time, but they also result in license suspensions and significant insurance increases. There are separate and distinct DMV administrative consequences that result from a DUI arrest. First offenses are misdemeanors, while second and subsequent offenses within 10 years are treated as felony-level crimes. Under the interlock program, individuals convicted of DUI offenses can generally continue driving while using an interlock device in their vehicle.Elements of the Crime Which Must be Proven by The State
To be found guilty of DUI in violation of C.G.S. § 14-227a, the state's attorney must prove the following elements of the crime:
- The defendant was operating a motor vehicle;
- The defendant was under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drug or both;
- The defendant had a BAC content of 0.08 percent or higher; 0.04 percent if driving a commercial vehicle; and 0.02 percent if under the defendant is under the age of 21 years
- The defendant was under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drug or both;
Under Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a, a police officer can arrest you for operation under the influence based upon his observations of your behavior at the time of the motor vehicle stop such as lack of coordination, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, the odor of alcohol or marijuana, failure to perform field sobriety tests to standard and any admissions by the accused to the consumption of alcohol. An analysis of your measurable blood alcohol content is not required to support a conviction for Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a. Indeed, in Connecticut, you can be prosecuted for operation under the influence even if your blood alcohol content is measured under the legal limit of 0.08 percent just based upon the officer's observations of your behavior.
Alternatively, the legislature has designated specific, measurable blood alcohol content levels, which are set by the statute as under the influence "per se." If your blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or higher, you are deemed by operation of the law to be operating under the influence of alcohol. The blood alcohol content levels are lower for drivers of commercial vehicles, and those drivers are under the age of 21 years old.Examples
A man has a few drinks at a bar with friends and feels that he is "ok" to drive and heads home in his car. A police officer notices the man swerving on the road and initiates a traffic stop. The officer also notes that the man is slurring his speech and lacks coordination. The officer smells the odor of alcohol on the man's breath and asks him if he had been drinking. The man admits to drinking a "few beers." The officer asks the man to step out of his car and perform a standardized field sobriety test which the man fails. At this point, the officer places the man under arrest and brings him to the police station, where the results of his breath alcohol test show his BAC is 0.10 percent. The man could be charged with DUI in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a based upon both the officer's observations of his impaired operation of a motor vehicle and also based upon his BAC reading over the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
A man is recovering from a back operation. His medical doctor has prescribed pain medication to help him manage his pain after the surgery. The man felt he was ok to drive, so he headed out to run a few local errands. The man rear-ends another vehicle at a stop sign, and the police are called to investigate. When the investigating officer arrives, he finds the man be somewhat disorientated and confused. The man fumbles for his documents and exhibits a lack of coordination and confusion when the officer asks the man to provide his license and registration. The officer asks the man some basic questions like where he was going, and the man struggles to give coherent responses. The man admits consuming some prescription medication earlier that day. Based upon these observations, the officer suspects that the man is under the influence and asks the man to perform field sobriety tests which the man fails. The officer then places the man under arrest and transports him to the police station, where the results of a breath test show that the man's BAC is 0.00. The man could be arrested for operating under the influence even though his BAC reading was 0.00 based upon the police officer's observations of his operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs.Related Offenses
- Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-60d – Assault in the Second Degree with a Motor Vehicle
- Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227m – DUI with Minors or Kids in the Vehicle
- Connecticut General Statutes § 14-222 – Reckless Driving
There are a variety of effective legal defenses to a charge of DUI in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a that an attorney could employ on your behalf to defend your DUI arrest.
In some instances, the police officer lacked any probable cause for the initial traffic stop. In these situations, it is possible to file a motion to suppress all the evidence obtained as a result of an unconstitutional traffic stop. If the traffic stop is unlawful, the state would be unable to proceed with its prosecution.
Often police make mistakes and charge innocent people with DUI. There are a lot of other plausible explanations for the erratic operation of a motor vehicle such as medical conditions, illness, allergies, fatigue, and panic attacks, to name only a few. Many people get confused and frightened when they are pulled over by police, and their reactions are normal stress and not an indication of intoxication. Due to potential civil liability, police departments are very reluctant not to charge anyone they suspect may be possibly intoxicated as they may face a lawsuit if that person were to injure someone later. A suspicion by a police officer that someone may be intoxicated is not enough evidence to convict you at trial. A conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Police officers use field sobriety tests to highlight the things that you do not perform to standard. Often officers do not properly administer the field sobriety tests and almost always refuse to neglect to mention anything that you perform correctly or to standard. A skilled DUI defense lawyer can expose how field sobriety tests are inaccurate, not adequately administered, and raise doubts about the determinations made by the police officer.
The technology employed in breath testing is very inaccurate, and there are many ways to challenge the results of chemical testing. The statute requires the officers to take the tests at specific time points after the arrest, and often the police fail to comply with these requirements. Also, the testing equipment itself is often not in functional shape and regularly has not been calibrated for several years.
Many first-time DUI offenders who are charged with a violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a use the alcohol education program, which is a pretrial Connecticut diversionary program. The AE program usually involves taking alcohol education classes and a victim impact panel. Successful completion of the program leads to a dismissal of the charges against you. Since courts and state's attorneys take DUI offenses seriously, it is important to utilize the services of an experienced Connecticut DUI attorney to prepare for and argue your AE program application.Penalties
For a first time offender, you can face up six-months in jail, 2 days of which is mandatory minimum time, a fine of $500 to $2,000, the loss of your driver's license for 45 days, be required to have an interlock device in your vehicle for a period of one year, and perform 100 hours of community service.
For a second offense within 10 years of a prior conviction for C.G.S. § 14-227a it is a felony for which you are exposed to up to two years in jail, 120 days of which is mandatory minimum time, a fine of $1,000 to $4,000, the loss of your driver's license for 45 days, be required to have an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for a period of three years, and perform 100 hours of community service. This is an unclassified felony.Criminal Defense for DUI in Violation of C.G.S. § 14-227a
If you or a family member has been arrested for driving while impaired in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a, it is important that you speak with an experienced and tenacious Connecticut DUI lawyer. Stamford criminal lawyer Allan F. Friedman has the experience to defend you against DUI allegations and get the outcome that you deserve.
For more information about defending driving while impaired allegations in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a, and to arrange your free, no-obligation, initial consultation, contact Connecticut criminal lawyer Allan F. Friedman. Mr. Friedman can be reached 24/7 at (203) 357-5555, or you can contact us online for a prompt response.