In Connecticut, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. C.G.S. §14-227a makes driving under the influence a crime that can be prosecuted in criminal court, while C.G.S. §14-227b refers to the DMV penalties for failing or refusing to take a BAC test. The DMV will send you a notice about the penalties that you face.
Violation of the Law
A person violates C.G.S. 14-227b after refusing to take a BAC test because in Connecticut, the law of implied consent states that every driver implicitly consents to a BAC test. Further, this statute is violated when a driver does take the BAC test but fails it when the results show a .02% or higher for drivers under the age of 21, .04% for CDL drivers, or .08% or higher for drivers over the age of 21 holding a regular driver’s license. In other words, a driver fails a BAC test when the results are .08% or higher, unless the driver is under 21 or has a CDL, where the standards for impaired driving are much higher.
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After a DUI arrest, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is notified of the arrest and whether the driver refused to take or failed a BAC test. The DMV is responsible for handling an arrestee’s license status and driving record, as well as other penalties like the ignition interlock device, which must be installed into the driver’s vehicle after the suspension period has ended. After the DMV is notified by the arresting agency, the DMV then processes the information and issues the arrestee an Initial Suspension Notice. The notice will include several pieces of important information:
- Date of the license suspension.
- Date that the driver must request a hearing to contest the suspension by.
- Instructions on how to request a hearing.
Per Se Hearings
Driving is a privilege, not a right. Therefore, this privilege can be taken away by the DMV after a finding of an elevated blood alcohol content or a refusal to take a BAC test pursuant to the implied consent laws. However, before this privilege can be taken away, the driver is entitled to the option to contest the suspension through an administrative hearing, referred to as a per se hearing.
In some cases, the suspension will be immediate for repeat offenders, but typically, the suspension will take effect after 30 days. The per se hearing must be requested within seven days from the date that the suspension notice is issued. Because of this very strict and fast deadline, drivers that receive this notice and wish to contest their suspension must do so as soon as possible.
The suspension notice will also notify the driver where the administrative hearing will be held. These per se hearings are held in one of four locations: Bridgeport, Old Saybrook, Waterbury, or Wethersfield. These hearings are very different from trials or hearings that happen in criminal court. For one, an attorney can appear on behalf of the driver in some cases, especially when the driver does not wish to testify. Also, the hearings are generally not open to the public as public trials are.
Typically, the hearing will consist of the DMV administrative officer, court reporter, a state’s attorney, and the defense attorney. In some cases, the arresting officer will appear to testify. Most importantly, the administrative officer will only hear evidence on four issues: whether there was probable cause for the DUI arrest, whether the driver was arrested, whether the driver was operating the motor vehicle, and whether the driver refused or failed the BAC test. The administrative officer will make determinations on these disputed issues by a standard of substantial evidence.
Help With a Per Se Hearing
If you have been arrested for a DUI and have received a suspension notice from the DMV in the mail, you have the opportunity to contest the suspension, whether the suspension is immediate or if it has not been suspended yet. You will need a defense attorney to advocate for your rights and your privilege to drive because losing your license can greatly affect your livelihood and quality of life. Call Lady DUI today to speak with an attorney who can help you.