Connecticut DUI / DWI repeat offender laws and penalties are extremely serious. If you are facing first-time offender, second time offender or third time offender DUI / DWI charges in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, Fairfield, or Wilton, then you could be facing the risks of a felony conviction, years of jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, and a possible lifetime suspension of your driver’s license. There is little breathing room for leniency in these Connecticut repeat offender DUI / DWI statutes. As a result, if you charged with DUI / DWI in Connecticut as a repeat offender (that is, first, second or third time offender), you should contact a top Greenwich or Stamford Connecticut DUI / DWI lawyer attorney as soon as possible to learn how they can help you fight your charges.Should a Repeat Offender Take the DUI / DWI Breath Test?
The threshold question during any Connecticut DUI / DWI arrest is whether you should take the breath test that measures your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). There’s no easy answer to this question except to advise you to call a top Stamford or Greenwich DUI / DWI attorney during your DUI / DWI arrest to discuss your options. In fact, the arresting officers are required by law to give you the opportunity to call an attorney to discuss whether or not you should take the test. The irony in this entitlement, however, is that most DUI / DWI cases happen in the middle of night, making the chances of getting hold of a Connecticut DUI / DWI lawyer all the more challenging. Notwithstanding, the answer to this question depends on the specific facts of your case; however, if you cannot get hold of any of the best Stamford DUI / DWI attorneys or lawyers by telephone, then you should remember the following rules of thumb when deciding whether to take the DUI breath test in Connecticut:
You should NOT take the BAC breath test if:
- You have been arrested for DUI / DWI and, regardless of whether you are a repeat offender, have been involved in a car accident that causes physical injuries to anyone, or that causes people to require medical treatment at a hospital.
- You have previously been arrested for DUI / DWI and you have a criminal record of one or more convictions for DUI / DWI in Connecticut or any other state.
- You have previously been arrested for DUI / DWI and you have used a DWI / DUI first-time offenders program, including Connecticut’s Alcohol Education Program (AEP), in the past 10 years in Connecticut or any other State.
As you will learn below, refusing the breath test comes with its own set of Connecticut DMV license consequences, but with the stakes so high in criminal court (ie. jail time, probation, etc.), you will have to conduct a risk-benefit analysis with your top Connecticut DUI / DWI lawyer to decide whether you should take the test. And finally, remember that the police may be listening to you during your phone call with your attorney so DO NOT tell your lawyer how much you have had to drink that night (let him or her ask you with yes or no questions), or what, if any illegal or prescription drugs you have ingested.Can I Get Connecticut’s Pre-Trial Alcohol Education Program as a Repeat Offender?
Connecticut’s first-time offenders program for DUI / DWI arrests is called the Pre-Trial Alcohol Education Program (the “AEP”). It’s available to the following categories of people: (1) people arrested for a Connecticut DUI / DWI who do not have a DWI conviction on their criminal record from Connecticut or any other state; and (2) people arrested for a Connecticut DUI / DWI who have not had the Connecticut Pre-Trial Alcohol Education Program (or an out-of-state equivalent program) in the past 10 years.
One question we get often is when does this 10-year look-back clock start ticking? The answer is rather technical but consider this: the 10-year look-back date commences on the date that your earlier application for the AEP (or out-of-state equivalent program) was granted by a judge. If it has been over 10 years from that date, then you are eligible to apply for the Connecticut first-time offenders program on your new DUI / DWI arrest. But be warned…expect aggressive resistance from Stamford, Norwalk or other Connecticut prosecutors who will argue that while you are technically eligible for the program, it is not appropriate in light of prior use of the AEP. But regardless of what Connecticut prosecutors argue, it is the judge’s decision to grant you this first-time DUI / DWI offenders program. In response, the best Stamford DUI / DWI attorneys and lawyers will aggressively object to the prosecutor’s arguments. They will make the most persuasive arguments and craft the most compelling presentation or the judge to review, all with the hope that you will be granted the first-time AEP program (even if you have already availed yourself of this same AEP program over 10 years ago) .First Time Offender Penalties for Connecticut DUI / DWI Convictions
Exactly what makes someone a “first-time” DUI / DWI offender in Connecticut is a bit misleading, as first-time offenders have often been arrested for DUI / DWI in the past and were granted the Pre-Trial Alcohol Education Program, which resulted in the dismissal of that DUI / DWI charge. However, if you are denied the Alcohol Education Program, or if you have already used the AEP in the past 10 years, then you will have to either go to trial or plead guilty as a Connecticut DUI / DWI as a “First-Time Offender.” A Connecticut first-time conviction is a misdemeanor, not a felony. Per C.G.S. 14-227a(g), a first-time offender faces the following maximum penalties: a 6-month jail sentence, 2 days of which are mandatory (unless your DUI / DWI lawyer convinces the court to order 100 hours of community service in lieu of the mandatory jail time), two years probation, a $500 fine, and a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Note that in spite of your this suspension, you may be eligible for an earlier reinstatement of your driver’s license after 45 days with the installation of an IID--an Ignition Interlock Device.Penalties for a Felony Second Time Offender DUI / DWI Conviction in Connecticut
If you are arrested for a DUI / DWI in Stamford, Norwalk, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton or Fairfield, and you have a prior DUI / DWI conviction in Connecticut or any other State, then you are facing exposure as a Connecticut DUI / DWI second-time offender. As spelled out in C.G.S. 14-227a(g), this felony charge calls for a maximum of 2 years in jail (120 days of which are mandatory), 100 hours of community service, a $1000-$4000 fine, probation, and a 3-year suspension of your driver’s license. (Again, note that after the first year of your 3-year DMV conviction suspension, you may apply for earlier reinstatement of your driver’s license with the installation of an IID).Penalties for a Third Time & Subsequent Repeat Offender DUI / DWI Convictions in Connecticut
Finally, if you are facing a conviction for a third-time or subsequent conviction for DUI / DWI in Connecticut, then you are looking at a felony charge that calls for a maximum 3 year jail sentence (1 year if which is mandatory), a $2000-$8000 fine, probation, and a permanent, lifetime suspension of your driver’s license. After 6 years of your lifetime suspension, you may apply for restoration of your Connecticut driver’s license with the installation of an IID; however, if your application is granted, then you will be required to use the IID for 10 years.DMV Per Se Suspensions For Repeat Offenders
In addition to the driver’s license suspensions that are imposed by the DMV as a result of pleading guilty to Connecticut DUI / DWI repeat offender charges, the DMV imposes an additional suspension called a per se suspension of your driver’s license as a result of your failure of a blood, breath or urine test, of alternatively, as a result of your refusal to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test.
The length of the DMV suspension depends on your age, the number of prior DUI / DWI arrests in your driving history, and whether or not you refused to submit to a blood, breath or urine test. If you are not represented by a top Stamford or Greenwich DUI / DWI lawyer, then you could hypothetically be subjected to a DMV per se suspension for many months and then get suspended again by the DMV as a result of a conviction in Superior Court. Don’t fall victim to consecutive DMV suspensions—talk to your DUI / DWI about the possibility of getting concurrent suspensions. See the charts below to learn what your per se suspension exposure is in connection with a Connecticut DWI / DUI repeat offender arrest:
|Blood Alcohol Level||1st Offense||2nd Offense||3rd Offense|
|Refusals||6 months||1 year||3 years|
|Test results of .08 - .159||90 days||9 months||2 years|
|Test results of .16 or higher||120 days||10 months||2.5 years|
|Blood Alcohol Level||1st Offense||2nd Offense||3rd Offense|
|Refusals||1 year||2 years||6 years|
|Test results of .08 - .159||6 months||18 months||4 years|
|Test results of .16 or higher||240 days||20 months||5 years|
|Blood Alcohol Level||1st Offense||2nd Offense||3rd Offense|
|Refusals||18 months||2 years||6 years|
|Test results of .08 - .159||1 year||2 years||4 years|
|Test results of .16 or higher||1 year||30 months||5 years|
We often represent Stamford, Darien and Greenwich DUI / DWI clients who have New York State DWAIs or Driving While Impaired convictions under New York VTL 1192.1. Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) is not a crime in New York. It is a violation (equivalent to a Connecticut infraction or violation). And DWAIs are usually given to drivers as a result of a plea deal. Technically, a DWAI is charged when the driver has a BAC of under .08. If you are charged with DWI / DUI in New York, and you are lucky enough to have a top New York or Westchester County DWI / DUI lawyer attorney defending you, then you can sometimes convince the District Attorney’s Office to reduce your DWI / DUI charge to a DWAI under VTL 1192.1
The question we frequently get from our Connecticut clients is whether Connecticut courts consider you a repeat offender or first-time offender if you have a conviction for an 1192.1 DWAI or Driving While Impaired charge. As the best Greenwich and Stamford DUI / DWI lawyers will tell you, the answer is not so simple. If all you have on your record is a DWAI, then technically, you are considered a first-time offender and you are eligible for Connecticut’s first-time DUI / DWI offenders’ diversionary program called the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program. However, just being eligible is not enough to get the first-time offenders AEP program in the Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport or Danbury criminal courts. You can be sure of one thing—the prosecutors from the State’s Attorney’s Office will usually make a passionate plea to the Court that while you may be eligible, you should NOT be entitled to the privilege of the first-time offenders program because you are really not a first-time offender. They will argue that you had your one-time slap-on-the-wrist in New York State and that you could be a high-risk driver with the potential to harm someone on the road. These prosecutors will argue aggressively that the Court treats you as a repeat offender and that you receive a Connecticut DUI / DWI conviction which will result in the suspension of your driver’s license, a criminal conviction and a lengthy period of probation.
Therefore, if you have a conviction for 1192.1 DWAI / Driving While Impaired and have been arrested for DUI / DWI in Connecticut, then be sure to consult with a skilled and experienced Stamford, Darien or Greenwich DUI / DWI criminal lawyer. They will approach your case carefully, and position your case to the judge and prosecution to give you the best chances of getting a first-time offenders Alcohol Education program, even if you have had a DWAI in New York State. This issue is technical and needs to be presented as gracefully and aggressively as possible so be sure to consult with a Stamford DUI / DWI lawyer prior to applying for any first-time offender programs.Fighting Connecticut Second Time / Third Time DUI and DWI Charges
As we’ve seen since the firm was established in 2002, Connecticut prosecutors and judges have little sympathy for accused DUI / DWI repeat offenders. Unfortunately, in the eyes of law enforcement, it does not matter if you run a successful business, have 6 kids, or have donated thousands of dollars or volunteer hours to local charities. The bottom line with Connecticut DUI / DWI repeat offender law is that Connecticut prosecutors and judges cannot and will not come off mandatory minimum sentences. This poses a substantial challenge to the top Greenwich, Stamford and Norwalk DWI / DUI attorneys, and the end result is that many repeat offender DUI / DWI cases must go to trial. It is therefore critical to hire a Connecticut criminal law firm that will fight your second time offender or third time offender DUI charges on all fronts. This includes moving to preserve all video and audio recordings of your on-scene arrest and booking process, moving to suppress illegally obtained evidence, discrediting the administration of the Standard Field Sobriety Tests, challenging the accuracy of any BAC blood or breath tests, bringing in toxicology experts to ensure police compliance with the intoxilyzer, and working with top private investigators to analyze your police reports for mistakes, errors and omissions. The Mark Sherman Law Repeat DUI / DWI offender lawyers will cast a wide net for witnesses and legal arguments that will assist in your defense. We examine all of the reports and surveillance tapes to evaluate whether the arresting officers have complied with DUI / DWI regulations and procedures. Even one mistake can lead to the unraveling of the prosecutor’s case and result in a dismissal of your case.Connecticut’s Home Confinement Program for Repeat Offenders
Finally, just a few years ago, Connecticut enacted a DUI / DWI Home Confinement program to offer to DUI / DWI convicts. With this new program, repeat offenders can be eligible for Home Confinement during their mandatory minimum jail sentence. However, it is difficult to get into Home Confinement and you must work with your top Stamford, Darien or New Canaan DWI / DUI lawyer attorney prior to your incarceration to position yourself as favorably as possible for admission into the program. Your attorney will explain to you what needs to be done and what documents you need to have attached to your incarceration paperwork to help ensure a quick transition from jail to home confinement. The Mark Sherman Law Repeat Offender DUI / DWI attorneys have successfully facilitated the transition of their clients from stiff mandatory minimum jail sentences to admission into Parole’s Home Confinement program. Call us today to learn more how we can help you with getting into the Connecticut Department of Corrections’ Home Confinement program.Contact a DUI / DWI Repeat Offender Lawyer Today
As you can see, Connecticut DUI / DWI repeat offender laws leave little room for error. With years of jail time at stake, a possible lifetime suspension of your driving privileges, and thousands of dollars of fines at issue, you cannot afford to try and go it alone in DUI / DWI courts in Stamford, Norwalk, Danbury and Bridgeport. That’s why it is critical that you call a repeat offender DUI / DWI lawyer at Mark Sherman Law today. We will sit with you, and craft the most effective and aggressive defense for your second or third time offender case. Our “two-attorney” review process ensures that your police reports will be scrutinized and analyzed by at least two of your DUI / DWI attorneys for mistakes and constitutional defects. We are not afraid to push back against overzealous prosecutors, nor are we intimidated by judges who will lean on you to accept what we believe would be mediocre plea deals. We want the best DUI / DWI results for our repeat offender DUI clients and will work tirelessly to try and get them. Call us today for a consultation at (203) 358-4700.Related Links: