It is a crime in the state of Connecticut to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A DUI charge involves more than criminal charges, however. It will also involve the DMV, which will suspend a driver’s license and oversee other things like driving history and the requirement of an ignition interlock device even after the license suspension is over. On this page, you can learn more about evidence and factors in your case. Certain evidence will be involved in your DMV hearing.
Following a DUI arrest, the arresting agency notifies the local DMV, who will then issue an Initial Suspension Notice to the driver. The notice will include the date of suspension, which is immediate for repeat offenders and after 30 days for first-time offenders. The notice will also inform the driver of how to request an administrative hearing, known as a per se hearing. Because driving is a privilege, it can be taken away after a failed BAC test or a test refusal. The per se hearing must be requested within seven days after the notice is issued.
Per Se Hearings
Per se hearings are held before an administrative officer at one of four locations: Bridgeport, Old Saybrook, Waterbury, or Wethersfield. A per se hearing is very different from a criminal court hearing or trial for several reasons. Here are some of the differences:
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- Location: The location of the hearing is not in a courtroom but rather a small room in the DMV or court building.
- Setting: The setting is a small room that is typically not open to the public.
- Attendance: It is not always necessary for the driver to be present, but rather, the defense attorney may appear on his or her behalf, when the driver is not going to be testifying.
- Standard of proof: The hearing is before an administrative officer, not a superior court judge, and the officer will make a determination based on substantial evidence, not a determination beyond a reasonable doubt.
Factors and Evidence
In addition to those differences, the most important distinction is that the administrative officer in a per se hearing will only hear evidence and discussion on one of four things:
- Whether a police officer had probable cause to arrest the driver for a DUI.
- Whether the driver was arrested.
- Whether the driver refused or failed a BAC test.
- Whether the driver was actually operating the vehicle.
The first issue as to the probable cause refers to the arresting officer’s probable cause to pull the driver over. The police officer must give evidence that they were able to articulate this probable cause, which must be something like the driver committing some motor vehicle infraction, rather than simply pulling out of a bar parking lot late at night. Most of the time, the officer will explain that the driver committed a violation such as swerving, driving without headlights, or failing to stop at a stop sign.
The second issue is whether the driver was arrested, meaning the arresting agency apprehended the driver for the purpose of prosecution. There must be evidence that a reasonable person in the same circumstances as the driver would not have felt like they were free to leave.
The third issue deals with a BAC refusal, which would require the driver to violate implied consent laws, meaning that the driver refused to take a blood, urine, or breath test, whichever was requested by the officer. If there was a failed BAC test, the issue deals with whether the BAC test revealed a .08% or higher for drivers over the age of 21 with a regular driver’s license, .04% or higher for CDL drivers, or .02% or higher for drivers under the age of 21.
The last issue deals with whether the driver was operating the motor vehicle. This does not always mean that the driver was driving at the time; rather, a showing that the keys were in the ignition of the vehicle or that the car was started is enough to show that the driver took a substantial step toward operating the motor vehicle.
Help With Your DUI
Administrative per se hearings can result in serious consequences for a driver arrested for a DUI because it can result in license suspension that has major impacts on a person’s livelihood and quality of life. Per se hearings are often legally technical and require the assistance of an attorney. If you have received a suspension notice from the DMV, call Lady DUI to find out more and to speak with an attorney who can help you.