Norwalk DUI / DWI
Ask any top Norwalk criminal defense lawyer and they will tell you that DUI/DWI is one of the most commonly charged crimes in the Norwalk Courthouse. The Norwalk State’s Attorney’s office has a reputation of being very hard on DUI/DWI offenders. While the terms DUI/DWI are used interchangeably in Connecticut the actual term is for the crime is operation under the influence of “liquor or drugs or both.” Conn. Gen. Statutes Section 14-227a. If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI in Connecticut you are facing one of the 10 strictest states for having the most severe DWI punishment. Although you are facing an overwhelming and confusing process ahead of you with license suspensions, ignition interlock devices, significant fines and the possibility of jail time having the right Norwalk DUI/DWI defense lawyer fighting on your side can make a difference in the outcome.
In 25 years of practice we have seen a lot of good people who have never been in trouble with the law before who made a poor decision under the effects of intoxicating substances which lead to a DUI/DWI arrest. We understand that everyone makes mistakes. I am not here to make you feel bad about making a poor decision. Rather our objective is to use our 25 years of experience as a DUI/DWI defense attorney serving Norwalk to find every means legally permissible to minimize the consequences of the allegations against you.Why Choose the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman?
- DUI/DWI’s arrests don’t happen 9-5 so we are available 24/7 to serve you
- 25 years of experience fighting DWI/DUI allegations
- We defend your rights and focus on results that work
- Free initial consultation and case evaluation
- Reasonable rates / payment plans
- Our core value is “Clients come first”
A police man can’t pull you over because he or she “feels” that you are intoxicated. The Constitution requires that the Police must have reasonable suspicion to make a valid stop which leads to a DUI/DWI arrest. Without reasonable suspicion that some criminal activity has occurred the entire arrest can be invalided by a motion to suppress all evidence. Common scenarios in which the Police may have sufficient reasonable suspicion to pull you over usually come about as a result as a minor moving violation such as speeding, crossing the double yellow line, going through a red light, etc. Other situations which would provide legal grounds to pull you over arise when accidents occur or when people fall asleep behind the wheel. In some cases, Police receive phone calls about a “dangerous” driver and then observe someone swerving between lanes or driving in an erratic fashion. Regardless of the reason for the initial stop a common theme in any DUI/DWI stop is that the initial contact must have been triggered by reasonable suspicion that some offense has occurred. Anytime a Police officer makes a traffic stop they are trained to start to investigate for any telltale indications of intoxication that would be grounds for a DUI/DWI inquiry.
If you ever happen to be the subject of a traffic stop and have been drinking you have the absolute right to remain silent and do not have to give an answer to the Policeman’s loaded question “have you been drinking tonight?” Everything you say can and will be used against you so why admit that you have been drinking alcohol? That is just providing the State one part of its case against you without any effort. While the Police are making this initial contact with you they are working to unearth some evidence that will provide them with the probable cause of intoxication so they can escalate the investigation onto the next level – the field sobriety test. At this stage they are trying to smell the odor or alcohol upon your breath, detect difficultly in your speech and in handling documents such as your license and registration which will provide them grounds to claim that they observed that you appeared to be intoxicated.
The vast majority of motorists do not understand their Constitutional rights and just do not know how to act or what to say in these uncomfortable situations. You are not obligated to answer self-incriminating questions, you do not have to cooperate with the Police effort to build an investigation which has an ultimate objective of placing you in jail. Although you do have to provide your license and registration and identify yourself and it is recommended that you remain calm, professional and friendly at all times you do not have to answer questions about where you were coming from, if you have been drinking or how many drinks you had. You have the absolute right to remain silent. If you are ever in this situation you should simply inform the Police officer in a polite manner that you would like to have a Norwalk DWI/DUI defense attorney present before you answer any questions.The Road Side Field Sobriety Test
Being subjected to a field sobriety test can be a terrifying experience. You are pulled over on the side of a dark road and a Police officer with a side arm is commanding you to “step out of the car.” Flashing lights, strobe lights, flashlights in your face someone barking orders at you it is all designed to take you out of your element and it is a test that is designed for you to fail. Most clients do not understand that the field sobriety test is not like the SAT test there is no passing grade. The field sobriety test is scored negatively, the officer marks everything against you that you do not perform to standard. They do not give you credit for things you do properly nor do they mention those in their Police reports. Many people even when totally sober can’t properly perform field sobriety tests due to physical or neurological limitations. Another huge problem with field sobriety tests is that the Police officer who is instructing you on how to take the test and administering the test is also the one who is grading your performance on the test with no one to monitor if he is doing it properly. Most of the time these tests are conducted in less than ideal conditions in dark areas being illuminated with Police safety lighting which may have the effect of blinding your night vision and rendering you temporarily unable to focus. Of course no one is present to explain any of this to you. The most important fact is that you DO NOT HAVE TO participate in field sobriety tests. You have the absolute right to refuse to take any field sobriety test and demand to have an opportunity to contact your Norwalk DUI/DWI defense attorney before you answer any questions. You have the right to refuse to answer any questions and you should exercise that right. As a note of clarification breath or chemical tests are a totally different subject and you are required to submit to a breath or chemical test pursuant to Connecticut statutes because we have an implied consent law. (More on breath and chemical tests in the next section). It have already been arrested for a DUI/DWI it is not too late to work to minimize the criminal and DMV consequences of your arrest contact a DWI/DUI attorney serving Norwalk as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation to review your case.
If the event that you do not pass the field sobriety test then the Police officer then has enough probable cause to place you under arrest. You will then be taken to the Police station and asked to submit to a breath or chemical test to ascertain your blood alcohol content – or level of drugs in your blood if applicable.The Breath / Chemical Test
Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes Section 14-227(b) every motorist in the state is deemed to have given implied consent to the administration of a blood, urine or breath chemical test to determine if he or she has an elevated blood alcohol content. There is no way around taking this test. If you refuse to take the test your drivers’ license will be suspended for 45 days and you will then be required to install and pay for an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for a period of one year. While you do have to take the test, you also have the right to speak with a Norwalk DWI/DUI Defense lawyer before you make the decision to submit to this test and get some legal advice. The Police are required by the statute to inform you of your right to consult with counsel and provide you with a phone to call the attorney of your choice. Also, pursuant to the statute the Police must do the following before proceeding:
- Inform you of your basic Constitutional rights;
- Provide you with a chance to speak with an attorney of your choice before requiring you to decide to take the chemical test or not;
- Notify you that if you refuse to take the chemical test your drivers’ license will be suspended, and
- Inform you that your refusal could be used as evidence against you at trial.
Of course everyone should take full advantage of that moment and reach a Norwalk DUI/DWI attorney that offers 24/7 service to review their options and have a rational conversation before deciding whether or not to take the chemical test. However in practice very few people who are processed for a DUI/DWI arrest ever bother to try to reach an attorney and those who do attempt to do so usually wind up reaching an answering service or voice mail. Let’s face it you are under arrest, you have just been handcuffed, searched, dragged down to a Police station and you are probably very nervous, anxious and worried about what is going to happen next. This is hardly the ideal set of circumstances to be making important decisions. It doesn’t help when you have a group of armed impatient armed Police officers hulking over you barking orders and insisting that you decide YES OR NO – NOW! Also, sadly many people do not carry their Norwalk DWI/DUI attorney’s personal cell phone number with them. In most cases by the time you are reading this article on the DUI/DWI laws in Connecticut it is probably too late to make a decision about a chemical test as you have probably already passed that stage and been arrested for DUI/DWI and have a Court date. At this point your best course of action is to schedule an free initial consultation with a Norwalk DUI/DWI defense lawyer to review all the facts of your case and get some insight on how to defend your case and try to save your drivers’ license.The Alcohol Education Program
The offense of DUI or DWI in violation of Connecticut General Statues Section 14-227(a) is a criminal offense and for first offenders it is a misdemeanor level offense and for second time and subsequent offenses is a serious felony. Any conviction for a first time DUI/DWI would give you a permanent criminal record which would have significant adverse effects on your future ability to secure employment and result in greatly enhanced auto insurance rates for years to come. If you have never been convicted of a DWI/DUI in the past or used the alcohol education before (in the past 10 years) then the alcohol education program is usually the first line of defense for a DUI/DWI allegation which would lead to a dismissal of all criminal charges against you and no criminal record of any kind.
While the basic details of the actual program are fairly clear cut in practice often it can take some significant degree of finesse and planning to actually get a Judge to grant an application for the alcohol education program. This is particularly the case where for example the State’s Attorney or the Victim is objecting to the granting of your application or in situations where there were accidents. The process itself is fairly straightforward. The first step is to apply in open Court and swear under oath that you have never been convicted of a DUI/DWI or used the program or a similar program in another state before. Then you will be scheduled for an eligibility screening with Connecticut Counseling to determine what level of treatment your “alcohol” problem warrants. In the final stage the Court will conduct a mini hearing in which the Court will hear from the State’s Attorney, the Victim (if any) and your Defense counsel if you should be granted the benefit of the program and if so what level of treatment you require – (in most cases the course consists of either a 10 session or a 15 session class room course). If you attend all your required class sessions, do not pick up any other DUI/DWI related offenses during the following year and compete any other special conditions the Court may impose (such as doing community service hours or attending a MADD victim impact panel session) then at the completion of one year the charges against you will be dismissed.
Putting together a winning argument in favor of an application for an application for the alcohol education program is a lot like a gymnastic performance. It takes years of experience and training, a lot of preparation and when it is done right it all comes down to a few moments in which everything comes together and flows smoothly and easily and there are no mistakes. As a client you have only one opportunity to make your argument to the Court for the alcohol education program and the Court’s decision is final the last thing you want to heard from that Court is a “no” on your application. Because you have only have one chance to convince the Judge to give you the benefits of the program and allow you to avoid receiving a criminal record that is why it is so very important to take preparation for that presentation very seriously. Your ability to engage in the alcohol education program is a privilege and is not a right. For this reason the Court’s decision on your application is a final decision and can’t be appealed to a higher Court. I am not telling you this information to scare you. In practice I have succeeded in having nearly 98% of the alcohol education program applications which I have argued in my legal career granted but that success rate is only through putting in the hard work to properly document each application and put in the work up front to learn the facts of each case and come up with a convincing argument to support the granting of the program on behalf of each client. I can’t over emphasize the importance of working with an experienced Norwalk DWI/DUI lawyer to put together the right supporting documentation to support your application and to find the right words to convince the Court why it should grant you the program. A well planned out organization of mitigation materials and the presentation can make the difference between success and failure. In some instances the office of the State’s Attorney’s has been known to zealously oppose applications for the alcohol education program and that is why it is always best to err on the side of being over prepared. When accidents are involved often the victims or their personal injury lawyers will come to Court to oppose your application.
Over the course of 25 years I have had success in having my clients gain entry into the alcohol education program under the most difficult and impossible situations including accidents with Police cars, extremely high blood alcohol content readings and some situations where clients have gotten into physical confrontations with police and resisted arrest. Since you only have one shot at getting your application into the alcohol education program granted don’t take chances make sure that you are represented by an experienced Norwalk DWI/DUI defense attorney with over 25 years of experience assisting you from start to finish. The main point for first time DUI/DWI offenders is that the difference between getting into the alcohol education program can make the difference between winding up with a criminal record on the one hand and having a clean criminal record on the other hand. Upon successful completion of the alcohol education program the charge of DWI/DUI will be dismissed and you will have no criminal record. At this point we can then go and clean the internet of any records of your arrest.A Two Part Battle – The Court and the DMV
The most confusing part about being arrested for a DUI/DWI for many clients in Connecticut is realizing that they are actually facing two separate independent cases against them. The first case is obviously the criminal case alleging a violation of Connecticut General Statutes Section 14-227(a) for DUI/DWI. In most situations, as we discussed above for first time offenders that aspect of the case is dealt with by utilizing the alcohol education program. The second case that you will be facing is an administrative attack upon your drivers’ license by the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). These days almost everyone faces a 45 day license suspension followed by a varying period of time in which an ignition interlock device is required to be installed in their vehicle. There are obviously a lot of moving parts to defending a DUI/DWI and working to try to obtain the best possible result on both the criminal side of the case and the DMV side. You should seek legal counsel from an experienced Norwalk DUI/DWI attorney as soon as possible.DMV Per Se License Suspension
While we may get the criminal case resolved in Court for example through the use of the alcohol education program the DMV is totally separate and will impose its own independent sanctions for your DUI/DWI incident by imposing a suspension on your driver’s license and then requiring you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This aspect of the DUI/DWI arrest process has proven to be very confusing for many of our clients. Even though we may be able to get the criminal charges dismissed the DMV still can go after your drivers’ license. These DMV penalties are part of your privilege of having a drivers’ license and are separate, distinct and in addition to any criminal penalties that the Court imposes.
The process by which the DMV acts to suspend the drivers’ license of those who have been arrested for a DUI/DWI is known as the administrative per se suspension. This process underwent a dramatic transformation in 2015 in a shift towards ignition interlock devices. Previously, the program was focused on varying length license suspension durations based upon your blood alcohol content and whether or not you had refused the chemical test. After July 1, 2015 all license suspensions are 45 days and the only aspect that varies is the period of time that you are required to install the ignition interlock in your vehicle after the 45 day suspension (at your cost and expense). An interlock device is an electronic device which will not allow you to start your car until you to blow into it and it determines that you are not intoxicated and also at random intervals while you are driving.
If you have refused to submit to a chemical test your license will be suspended for 45 days and thereafter you will be required to install an interlock device for a period of one full year in your vehicle. If you submitted to the chemical test and were over the age of 21 and your blood alcohol content was over the legal limit of .08 then you would face the same initial 45 day suspension and a 6 month period of having to install the ignition interlock device. You should be expecting a very important letter from the DMV in about 10 days after your arrest which concerns your pending DMV drivers’ license suspension and your rights to take an appeal. The letter will allow you approximately 7 days in which to request an appeal of the pending suspension. If you fail to contact the DMV and request an appeal within that 7 day period the suspension will automatically take effect. Because you only have 7 days in which to file for a hearing it is very important to consult with and review the facts of your case with a Norwalk DWI/DUI attorney right away so that your case can be reviewed to determine if there is a basis for an appeal.
The procedures which the Police must follow when pulling you over and administering a chemical test are all rigidly set forth in the statutes and in the DMV regulations. If the Police did not follow the proper statutory protocols in the administration of your chemical test then there may be grounds upon which to appeal the administrative suspension of your drivers’ license. It some situations the Police may not have had reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place. That is another basis upon which to contest the suspension. A top Norwalk DUI/DWI criminal defense attorney will go through every page of the Police reports and supporting documentation and forms that the Police file with the DMV to look for any oversights, errors, mistakes or flaws upon which to fight the license suspension. It is always the best practice to try and overturn the DMV license suspension if possible for several important reasons:
If your drivers’ license is suspended for a DUI/DWI related offense your auto insurance rates will dramatically.
This kind of suspension on your driving record will preclude you from employment in many areas of employment in many areas which require you to drive for a living.
Having an interlock device in your car is a significant expense to install in the first place and then you have to pay a costly monthly equipment rental and calibration fee for every month while the interlock device remains. In addition many clients have reported that it is a source of tremendous embarrassment for them to be seen having such a device in their vehicles.
Your first phone call when you leave the Police Station should be to a Norwalk DUI/DWI defense attorney so that we can review the facts of your case and start to determine if there are any grounds upon which to appeal the DMV suspension of your license.Work and School Permits
If there is no legal basis upon which to overturn the suspension of your license for the 45 day period of the suspension then the best approach is to apply for a special permit from the DMV which will allow you to drive a vehicle back and forth to school. I always advise my clients to send in the application for the special permit as soon as practical because it does take the DMV some time to process your application. In this manner you will receive your special permit from the DMV as expeditiously as possible. They will have to contact your boss or work supervisor to verify your employment so you may need to factor that into your decision in the event that your employer is not aware of your DWI arrest. One thing to always keep in mind if you are issued a special work or school permit is that if you are caught driving beyond the hours or geographic boundaries set in your special permit you will be charged with the crime of operation under suspension for a DUI/DWI and the penalty is a mandatory minimum 30 days in jail. At the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman, we always assist our clients with the application process for DMV work and school permits so if you have any questions about how the process works feel free to give us a call.Defending DUI/DWI Cases in Court
The first thing to know about DWI/DUI cases is that by statute a State’s Attorney is not allowed to drop the charges or “nolle” the case unless they state the reason for the decision on the record. This means that effectively in the Norwalk Court there is effectively zero ability to plea bargain for a lesser charge than the DUI/DWI with the State. While this was not always the case it is currently the law and the policy of the State’s Attorney’s office. In terms of plea negotiations about the only wiggle room that you can get is in some instances people who have two pending DUI/DWI cases at the same time can sometimes negotiate a resolution to plead guilty to both of them as a first time offender instead of having one being treated as a second time – Felony level offense. As a result the only way to get a favorable result in a DUI/DWI case is to fight the charges head on and contest the allegations. One thing that stands out in DUI/DWI defense is that no two cases are the same. Each case is unique and every one of them must be analyzed based upon the facts of your individual case. A minor detail which may not seem that important to you may actually have a huge significance in fighting the case. When breaking down a DUI/DWI case into its basic elements of proof there are many variables in play. Do you have a prior criminal record for DUI/DWI? Did this case involve an accident? Did you submit to the chemical test and if so what were the readings? Did the Police officer follow the proper testing protocol in the administration of the chemical test? Did you evade responsibility of leave the scene of any accident? Did you have a valid drivers’ license at the time of the arrest? These are just some of the questions that we would review during your initial free consultation to get an overview of your case and begin to develop a strategy for defending your DUI/DWI case. At the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman we have 25 years of experience defending DUI/DWI cases and we have successfully defended just about every possible scenario when it comes to DUI/DWI arrests.
There are a multitude of legal defenses that can be used to fight a DUI/DWI allegation. One of the most effective is to cut the case off at its knees by attacking the legality of the initial stop. If the Police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place then the entire arrest is unconstitutional. In this case a motion to suppress all the evidence may succeed in getting the entire case dismissed. Often in cases in which there was no chemical test administered we can attack the Police officer’s observations and conclusions that you were intoxicated. Often there is alternative explanations for your behavior and the way that you appeared.. Often there can be valid medical or other reasons, such as sleep deprivation or allergic reactions, to explain the behavior which the Police observed upon which they came to the conclusion that you were driving drunk? In other cases we can break down the scientific basis of the administration of the chemical test and demonstrate that the Police did not follow the proper procedures in administering the chemical tests. Often there may be grounds to exclude those chemical test results based upon Police lack of qualification in the administration in the testing or missing certificates of the calibration of the testing equipment which must be periodically recertified. You should contact an experienced Norwalk DWI/DUI lawyer as soon as possible if you would like to schedule a free initial consultation to go over all the facts of your case to determine what defenses we can raise in your DWI/DUI case.
Once you retain our services to defend you in a DUI/DWI cases we immediately obtain discovery of all the Police reports and supporting documentation from the State’s Attorney which can be a treasure trove of defense ammunition. We spend a lot of time going over each and every line looking for any errors, mistakes or oversights which we can use to build a defense to the allegations against you. Any contradictions, misstatements, errors or mistakes can be very significant towards building a great defense. After our careful review of all of the documentation we will have a follow up consultation with you to review our findings and discuss your options and advise you concerning the best course of action to obtain the most favorable result.Stress of the DUI/DWI Process
It is very normal for people who are charged with a DUI/DWI to experience a lot of stress and embarrassment concerning the arrest and the need to navigate the Court system. The vast majority of our DUI/DWI clients have never been charged with a crime before and usually their DUI/DWI arrest is their first encounter with the criminal justice system. All of a sudden you find yourself plastered all over the internet and local newspapers. An additional stress factor is the very slow pace at which the criminal justice system works. The Courts are overloaded with many very serious cases and under staffed and things tend to move slowly. At the same time your criminal defense attorney wants to take ample time to make sure to obtain the best possible result in your case. Most clients would like to have the case over with yesterday. While we do everything in our power to process each case as quickly as possible it is more important to make sure that we are putting in the hard work to achieve the best result possible. While we can’t waive a magic wand and make your stress disappear, but we can do everything in our power to make the process as painless and pleasant as possible and be available to answer your questions, to welcome your input, and advise you on the best course of action to take to achieve the optimal result. We keep in frequent contact with you throughout the case and keep you up to speed on every development. If you have any questions about the DWI/DUI processor the best way to defend a DUI/DWI case you should speak with an experienced Norwalk DWI/DUI attorney today.Second Time and Third Time DUI/DWI Offenders
For those clients who have been charged with a DWI and they have a previous conviction for a DWI within the last 10 years of a prior conviction it becomes a serious felony charge. If the prior DUI/DWI’s took place more than 10 years after any prior conviction and /or the current alleged offense then you are not in danger of a felony charge. However, often with those clients with several convictions the stakes are very high and it can get into some complicated analysis regarding dates of convictions and times. You should consult with an experienced Norwalk DWI/DUI lawyer immediately. If your case is treated as a subsequent DUI/DWI offender not only is it a felony, but the charge as a second time offender carries with it a mandatory minimum 120 days in jail. For a third offense within 10 years of a prior conviction, the penalties increase to a mandatory minimum 1 year in jail. As if these lengthy jail mandatory minimum jail terms were not enough there are also significant monetary fines and long periods of probation that go along with these convictions. In addition, having a felony criminal record is a significant black mark on your record and will cause you implications for future employment opportunities.
For those clients who are facing a 2nd or 3rd time DWI/DUI charge there was recently some very positive legislative updates which dramatically changed the situation. Previously those charged with a second offense faced a mandatory minimum 120 days in jail and those charged with a third offense faced a mandatory minimum one year on jail which is very hard to wrap your brain around. The Legislature provided significant relief to these draconian mandatory minimum sentences in March of 2012 by initiating the “Driving under the Influence Home Confinement Program (DUI HC Program)”. The concept behind this revolutionary program was based upon scientific studies that demonstrated that educational programs and alcohol treatment were far more effective at reducing the rate of recidivism than keeping people locked in jail. The studies showed that the majority of alcoholics who has been incarcerated would go right back to drinking upon release from jail. The concept of the new DUC HC program is to allow DUI offenders to be released from jail into a home confinement ankle bracelet program in lieu of incarceration.
The difficult part is understanding how to navigate the bureaucratic log jam at the Department of Corrections so that you will get into the DUI HC Program as quickly as possible and out of jail and back to your home. If you are facing a repeat DWI charge it is imperative that you have a Norwalk DWI/DUI lawyer on your side to guide you through the process. At the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman since 2012 we have a track record of 100% success since 2012 in getting every multiple offender DWI client into the DUI HC Program and released to home confinement. (Note* Past case success does not guarantee future results). We have spent a lot of time working with the people at the Department of Corrections from day one to understand what they are looking for when they are designating “levels of intervention.” The most important aspect of this program is to be designated as a “First Level” inmate. With this level of intervention you would be eligible for release to home confinement after completion of a 15 session alcohol education program. In order to maximize the chances of early release it is crucial that the client be enrolled in some form of alcohol treatment prior to the time of sentencing. If you are interested in learning more about the DUI HC Program and being released on an ankle bracelet then you should contact the Allan F. Friedman Law DWI/DUI lawyers to discuss how we can maximize your opportunities for entry into this wonderful program.Contact a Norwalk DUI/DWI Defense Lawyer Today!
If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI , you should speak with a Norwalk DWI/DUI lawyer as soon as possible to go over the details of your arrest. With 25 year of experience in the defense of DUI/DWI charges in Norwalk, Attorney Allan F. Friedman can give you sound legal advice. Was your arrest lawful? Have your constitutional rights been violated? Our objective is to use every means possible to have the charges dismissed or thrown out, or significantly reduce the charges.
We work on a flat fee basis and our rates are very reasonable. 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 them online for a prompt response.