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DUI / DWI – DMV Administrative Per Se License Suspension

DUI / DWI

If you have been arrested for a DUI, you should retain a Stamford DUI Attorney as soon as possible. Our office has extensive experience in defending DUI cases throughout the State of Connecticut. Stamford CT DUI Lawyer Allan F. Friedman knows that your driver’s license is really important to your ability to get around Connecticut. Having your license suspended for a DUI will result in massive increases in insurance rates for years to come and preclude you from many forms of employment in the future. A lot of our clients are really confused about the DUI process because there are really two separate parts to a DUI case. The first part is a criminal case in the Superior Court for a violation of general statues section 14-227(a) (operation under the influence) which is either a misdemeanor or felony crime (first time offender vs. subsequent offender). The second aspect of the case is a separate and distinct administrative proceeding before the DMV commonly known as administrative per se suspension hearing. The Connecticut DMV will suspend your driver’s license if you failed a chemical test or refused a chemical test. A lot of our clients are confused because often we get their criminal cases in the Superior Court dismissed by using a diversionary program such as the Alcohol Education Program but the DMV still proceeds to suspend their license and impose an interlock device requirement upon them. This is because the two cases are totally separate. If you have any questions about how the process works you should contact our Stamford CT office for a free, no obligation, initial consultation and case evaluation at (203) 357-5555.

You have the right to contest the suspension of your license in what is known as an DMV administrative per se hearing. There may be valid reasons to appeal the suspension and it can be successfully contested. Most people who are arrested for DUI will also face a DMV license suspension. If you have been arrested for a DUI you should contact a Stamford CT DUI lawyer as soon as possible to take steps to protect your driver’s license.

It is important to understand that the fact that your DUI case is proceeding in two separate forums against you is not considered double jeopardy. The reason for this is that your driver’s license is considered a privilege and not a right. Since the DMV administrative per se proceeding concerns your privilege to operate a motor vehicle and not a deprivation of a right the concurrent prosecution of a criminal case against you is not considered to be double jeopardy.

Some clients like to try and postpone the entire process and think that nothing will happen to their driver’s license until the criminal case is completed so they often delay the court case and put off hiring an attorney. What these procrastinators fail to realize is that the DMV administrative process to suspend your driver’s license gets started right away. Your license will be suspended within 30 days after your arrest and you only have 7 days to request a hearing to contest the suspension. You should contact an experienced Stamford DUI attorney as soon as you are arrested for a DUI.

What Triggers a DMV Administrative Per Se License Suspension?

The DMV license suspension is triggered by either the failure of a chemical test (usually a breath test) or a refusal to submit to a chemical test. All divers are required under our “implied consent law” to comply with a police request to submit to a chemical test for BAC (blood alcohol content) if police can demonstrate that they had probable cause to make an arrest for DUI. If you refuse to take a chemical test you will be subject to a license suspension. The best Stamford DUI attorneys will agree that in recent years there have been significant changes in the law related to per se license suspensions. The shift has been to interlock devices.

Your license will also be suspended for a guilty plea or conviction after trial for a DUI offense. However, a lot of our clients are first time offenders who are eligible for participation in the Alcohol Education Program which means that if they successfully complete the program the charges against them will be dismissed and they will never face any license suspension as a result of a guilty plea or conviction. This is why it is important to explore available options to contest the DMV license suspension.

While you are required under the implied consent law to submit to a chemical test we generally advise clients to refuse the test. Also, there is no implied consent requirement for standardized field sobriety tests. You should always refuse to participate in field sobriety tests as there is no penalty for refusing them. The field sobriety test is a test that you can only fail and we have never seen any client who actually “passed” a field sobriety test including clients who later were found to have a .000 BAC and did not drink anything or use any drugs.

Under the new interlock program everyone gets a 45 day license suspension during which they can not drive. (The only exception being those clients who obtain a special operator’s permit a/k/a work permit). The only difference between a chemical test failure and refusal is the length of time you must install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.

  • Failure of Chemical Test - .08 or higher BAC - .(02 BAC for drivers under 21 years of age) - 45 days license suspension and 6 months requirement of interlock in vehicle
  • Refusal of Chemical test – 45 days license suspension and one year requirement of interlock in vehicle

Note that these interlock penalties will be higher for clients who have had a prior conviction for an alcohol related offense.

For all the details on the license suspension penalties now imposed by the Connecticut DMV for DUI related offenses you can find more information at this site.

When an officer processes a DUI arrest they will send a form A-44 to the DMV which initiates the administrative per se hearing process.

The Suspension Letter and Your Right to a Hearing

Top Stamford DUI lawyers will advise their clients to keep an eye out for the mail after a DUI arrest for a very important letter from the DMV regarding your license suspension. You usually only have about one week to request a hearing so it is imperative to look out for that letter and immediately contact your Connecticut DUI attorney as soon as the letter is received. It is crucial to make a quick decision whether or not you want to appeal the suspension of your license as you only have about 7 days in which to request a hearing. Our recommended approach is to file our appearance on your behalf in the criminal court to obtain copies of the police reports and Form A-44 and then review all of these documents carefully for any errors or omissions to make a determination is there is a viable basis upon which to pursue an appeal. We like to obtain the discovery in your case as quickly as possible to help you make an informed decision on whether or not to appeal the suspension. Given the significant collateral consequences that go along with a DUI license suspension and the limited amount of time you have to make a decision on taking an appeal it is always suggested that you contact a Connecticut DUI lawyer as soon as you have been arrested for a DUI to start preparing your defense.

The Administrative Hearing at DMV

It is important to understand that the license suspension hearing at the DMV is not a criminal proceeding. You have nothing to lose by appealing the suspension of your license. However, it can be difficult to prevail at these hearings unless your attorney can identify some error, mistake or omission by the police that provides a sufficient basis for the appeal. The DMV suspension appeal is an administrative hearing. It has some significant differences from a criminal case. First of all, the hearing is held by a hearing officer who is not a judge or a jury. Unlike a criminal case, the standard of proof is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt but rather the much lower standard of the preponderance of the evidence. Additionally, the rules of evidence are much more relaxed than in a criminal proceeding. It is a tribunal which is stacked against you and requires you to have a strong defense in order to prevail.

The issues to be decided at a DMV administrative per se hearing are limited to the following four (4) questions:

  1. Were You “Operating” a Motor Vehicle? Note that our Supreme Court has taken a very liberal view as to what constitutes “operation” of a motor vehicle. For example, sleeping in your car with the engine running is deemed to be “operation.” As far as I am concerned it is bad law to tag people with DUI’s who have decided to park their cars and “sleep it off” but our Supreme Court has made it clear that they will consider any action towards any mechanical or electrical agency that could start the vehicle as “operating the vehicle.” This means that if you are sitting in your car with the keys in the ignition but the engine off you are going to be determined to have been operating a motor vehicle under Connecticut law.
  2. Did the Police have Probable Cause to Pull You Over? This is an area that we rarely have success contesting. The police can’t just pull you over because they see you pulling out of a bar parking lot for example. The police need to have some probable cause for pulling you over. The problem is that they will often lie and say things like you were swerving of failing to maintain your lane – even if you were not.
  3. Did You Fail a Chemical Test? This area is usually more fertile grounds for a successful appeal. Some good reasons to appeal here would be time of operation issues; testing errors and problems with blood testing. This area of the law is highly technical and requires a case by case review of the A-44 form and the police narrative to spot any appealable issues.
  4. Did you Refuse a Chemical Test? Since Connecticut is a implied consent state you have to submit to a chemical test if the proper protocols are followed. The officer must read you an implied consent advisement. The officer must be reasonable in affording you an opportunity to attempt to take the test. We have seen a lot of situations where impatient police officers have called off tests and said “refusal” at the first sign of hesitation by our client. The refusal must be witnessed by another officer.

It is imperative that you contact a top Stamford DUI attorney as soon as you are arrested for a DUI to start planning whether or not to appeal your DMV per se suspension. This is a very time sensitive matter and needs your immediate attention and some sound legal guidance from an experienced lawyer to guide you on the best choice for your case.

Special Operator’s Permit – Work / School Permit

If you elect not to appeal your license suspension, or lose your appeal, we always recommend that you promptly and immediately apply for a special operator’s permit.

You can find a link to the special operator’s permit or work permit from the Connecticut DMV here.

We encourage you to get your application for a work permit a/k/a special operators permit filed as soon as possible with the DMV. We assist our clients with filing out their work permit applications to give them the best chance that their application will be approved. The work or school permit will give you permission to drive back and forth to work or school during the initial 45 day period of your suspension. The work permit only permits you to drive back and forth to work so do not get caught driving to other destinations as the penalty for doing so involves a potential 30 day mandatory minimum jail sentence.

After the 45 days has passed you will need to submit a $175 reinstatement fee, $100 interlock fee and interlock installation form to the DMV in order to get your operating privileges reinstated. It is imperative that you get your work / school permit application in a quickly as possible as the DMV takes at least 7 -10 business days to process it and as you may know DMV only operates Tuesday through Friday.

You can find more information about the interlock program by going to this link to the Connecticut DMV website.

One important consideration for clients seeking a work permit is that it requires the signature of your direct supervisor at work. Many of or clients do not want their employers to know that they have received a DUI. It is always a difficult calculation whether or not to inform your employer of the DUI arrest in order to get the work permit. If you have questions about the process for applying for a work / school permit you should contact a Stamford DUI lawyer to go over the particular details of your individual case.

You should never operate a motor vehicle after you have had your license suspended unless you are in possession of a valid work or school permit or a restoration letter from the Connecticut DMV. You can always check the status of your driver’s license online by checking this Connecticut DMV web page.

Contact a DWI/DUI Lawyer at the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman Today

If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI offense in the State of Connecticut or Fairfield County area, contact Attorney Allan F. Friedman. Attorney Friedman realizes and understands how serious a DUI offense can be, the best way to defend your case, and how to resolve your case without any criminal record if possible. Attorney Friedman has 28 years of experience defending DUI cases and has had hundreds of them dismissed for his clients over the last 3 decades. We work on a reasonable flat fee basis. Call Attorney Friedman at (203) 357-5555 to schedule your free initial consultation and case evaluation – we are available 24/7 - 365 days a year. Or you can contact us online for a prompt response.

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Not only does Allan give exceptional legal advice, but he also takes the time to get to know his clients on an individual level. He is always available to answer questions, and he is truly dedicated to achieving a fair outcome in each case he is presented with. Knowledgeable, professional & compassionate. Highly recommend! Jennifer S.
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This man literally saved my life! I had a criminal mischief and domestic charge along with a protective order put on me. Atty Friedman successfully got me into the required needed to have these charges dropped. Then came the felony protective order violation...Long story short I walked out of court today with all my charges nolled. Anonymous