Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227m – DUI with Minors or Kids in the Vehicle
Driving under the influence with a minor or C.G.S. § 14-227m is an enhanced form of DUI where it is alleged that the offender committed the crime of DUI when a child under the age of eighteen years old was in in the vehicle. Although this statute is charged separately, in essence, it is a sentencing enhancement for a regular DUI, C.G.S. § 14-227a. This means that the elements of the crime are exactly the same as DUI, C.G.S. § 14-227a, with the only difference being that C.G.S. § 14-227m includes the additional element of having a child under the age of 18 in the vehicle and provides for a more severe penalty.
An associated offense is C.G.S. § 53-21 risk of injury to a minor, which is a felony. Risk of injury to a minor could be charged anytime someone is driving under the influence with a minor under the age of 16 years old in a motor vehicle. Risk of injury to a minor is a catch-all statute that covers any conceivable type of act that could place the health or safety of a minor under the age of 16 in danger. If the minors who were in the vehicle of the accused were under the age of 16, the state's attorney or the police could decide to charge both C.G.S. § 14-227m and C.G.S. § 53-21. Since a first offender C.G.S. § 14-227m is a misdemeanor offense and risk of injury is a felony; obviously, the risk of injury is the more serious offense. However, it should be noted that any conviction for C.G.S. § 14-227m carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence.Mandatory DCF Referral
An arrest for C.G.S. § 14-227m is going to result in a mandatory referral to DCF. It is highly advised that you consult with an experienced Stamford DUI lawyer before you start taking to DCF. When you are arrested, dealing with DCF may seem like the least of your troubles, however, the DCF can become a real difficulty for your family if you don't manage the situation appropriately.Elements of the Crime Which Must be Proven by The State
To be found guilty of drunk driving with kids in the car in violation of C.G.S. § 14-227m the prosecutor must prove the following elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant was operating a motor vehicle;
- a. The defendant was under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drug or both;
b. The defendant had a BAC content of 0.08 percent or greater; 0.04 percent if driving a commercial vehicle; and 0.02 percent if under the defendant is under the age of 21 years
- A passenger in the motor vehicle was a child under the age of 18.
A conviction for drunk driving or DUI with kids in your car or a violation of C.G.S. § 14-227m does not require that the state prove that you knew the child was under 18. As to the age of the passenger, it is a strict liability offense.
As with any DUI offense, the police officer must have had probable cause to make an initial traffic stop and can not initiate a DUI investigation just upon some suspicion or hunch that the driver is intoxicated. Upon initiating contact with the suspect, police officers are trained to look for telltale signs of intoxication such as a lack of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, and an odor of alcohol or the smell of marijuana. Invariably, the arresting offer will ask the accused if they have consumed any alcoholic beverages or drugs. If these initial interactions lead the officer to suspect that the driver is under the influence, they will usually invite the driver to participate in a field sobriety test.
Most people who have been arrested for DUI do not understand that they have a right to refuse to participate in field sobriety tests. While Connecticut is an implied consent state when it comes to chemical testing for BAC in most cases anyone who is a suspect in a case of DUI with minor(s) in a vehicle or C.G.S. § 14-227m should also refuse to take any chemical test. Before you have to make the decision on whether to take a chemical test or not, the police officer will afford you an opportunity to consult with a DUI defense attorney. It would be best if you took this time to make some calls and speak with an experienced Stamford DUI lawyer.
If the results of your breath test come up with an elevated BAC above the legal limit of 0.08 percent or higher (lower for commercial vehicle operators or drivers under 21) or if the police officer has probable cause to believe that your ability to operate a motor vehicle was otherwise impaired by alcohol, drugs or both and you had a passenger under the age of 18 years old in the vehicle then the driver will be arrested for DUI with a minor in violation of C.G.S. § 14-227m.Examples
A woman has a few drinks and picks up her 15 year old child from school and gets stopped for a traffic infraction. The woman is investigated for suspicion of being under the influence based upon the police officer's observations. The woman later submits to a chemical test at the police station and is determined to have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. The woman could be charged with DUI C.G.S. § 14-227a; in addition, the woman could be charged with the enhanced charge of C.G.S. § 14-227m because she had a minor under the age of 18 in the vehicle at the time she was stopped; further she could be charged with the crime of C.G.S. § 53-21 risk of injury to a minor because the child in the vehicle was also under the age of 16.
In the same factual scenario as above, the woman, who is a first time offender, applies for the alcohol education program C.G.S. § 54-56g which is a diversionary program for the charge of C.G.S. § 14-227m and the accelerated rehabilitation program for the charge of C.G.S. § 53-21. If the woman successfully completed both programs, the charges would be dismissed, and she would have no criminal record.Related Offenses
- Connecticut General Statutes § 53-21 – Risk of Injury to a Minor
- Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a – DUI
- Connecticut General Statutes § 14-222 – Reckless Driving
If you are a first-time offender the best defense to the charge of C.G.S. § 14-227m or any other DUI offense is to apply for the alcohol education program which is a diversionary program that will result in dismissal of the charges if you successfully complete the program. Successfully gaining entry into the alcohol education program when you are charged a violation of C.G.S. § 14-227m is going to take a skilled Connecticut DUI lawyer working on your behalf. DUI with a minor in a car is a serious allegation, and you will need a skilled lawyer who can put a human face on the situation and give the court a good reason to grant you the diversionary program.
If you are not successful in being granted entry to the AE program, or if you are not eligible for the program because either you have previously used the program in the last 10 years or because you have a prior DUI conviction or even because you held a CDL license then your DUI attorney will have to defend the allegation like any other DUI case.
If the police officer who made the DUI stop lacked probable cause to pull you over in the first place, then any evidence that the officer obtained as a result of that stop could be suppressed at trial, and the state would not be able to proceed with its case against you.
Breath test results involve a very inaccurate technology, and often the police officer's testing results can be debunked. Often the breath testing equipment itself is not properly calibrated or serviced in a proper manner. When the stakes are high such as in a case involving an allegation of drunk driving with a minor in the vehicle, C.G.S. § 14-227m, you need a tenacious and zealous Connecticut DUI lawyer who will leave no stone unturned to explore every possible theory to secure a not guilty verdict.Penalties
For a first time offender, you can face up to a year in jail, 30 days of which is mandatory minimum time, a fine of $500 to $2,000 and the loss of your driver's license for 45 days and be required to have an interlock device in your vehicle for a period of one year and perform 100 hours of community service. This is a Class A misdemeanor.
For a second offense within 10 years of a prior conviction for C.G.S. § 14-227m you can face up to three years in jail, 180 days of which is mandatory minimum time, a fine of $1,000 to $4,000 and the loss of your driver's license for 45 days and 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 With a Minor Child in a Motor Vehicle
If you or a family member has been arrested for drunk driving with a minor in a motor vehicle in violation of C.G.S. § 14-227m, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced and competent Connecticut DUI lawyer. Stamford criminal lawyer Allan F. Friedman has the experience to defend you against these kinds of serious allegations. Facing an allegation like DUI with a minor in violation of C.G.S. § 14-227m, which carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence, can be a terrifying and frightening experience. You need an aggressive and staunch advocate to defend your liberty and obtain the most favorable result.
For more information about defending drunk driving with a minor charges in violation of C.G.S. § 14-227m, and to arrange your free, no-obligation, initial consultation, contact Stamford criminal lawyer Allan F. Friedman at The Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman located at 1100 Summer St #306, Stamford, CT 06905. Mr. Friedman can be reached 24/7 at (203) 357-5555, or you can contact us online for a prompt response.
Our office is conveniently located one block from the Stamford Courthouse.