Common Connecticut DUI Questions…Answered

Do I Need a Lawyer?

There is no simple answer to this question. Our law provides that a person can represent themselves, so it’s not required that a person hire a lawyer. But, taking into consideration that the prosecutor who will be handling the case for the state has had four years of college, three years of law school, is familiar with the rules of evidence, has had specialized training in the prosecution of cases at trial and has the resources of the state of Connecticut to prosecute you, it is probably in your best interest to hire an attorney. That being said, you do not “need” an attorney if you feel comfortable representing yourself.

Can I Just Get Any Attorney?

Unlike medical doctors, who often have one area of medicine that they handle, lawyers are allowed to handle any type of case that comes into their office, provided that they know something about it or commit themselves to learning during the representation. This means that the lawyer you choose may not have handled many DUI cases, or may be learning as they go. Many criminal defense lawyers believe DUI are the most complicated of criminal cases. They involve subjective observations by officers, chemical and toxicological concepts and human physiology. Connecticut does not recognize the specific area of DUI defense as a specialization, but I work in partnership with Attorney James J. Ruane, who has been deemed an expert in criminal defense since 1985 by the National Board of Legal Speciality Certification. He is actively involved in your defense if you choose us to be your attorneys.

What Are Your Fees? Aren’t You Expensive?

Everything is relative. I handle all my cases on a flat fee basis. This means that when I review your case, I tell you exactly what your fee will be. I do not bill by the hour, or send clients bills at the end of the month to ask for more money. When I get into a case your flat fee covers all proceedings prior to trial. It covers my representation of you at the courthouse and the Department of Motor Vehicles. It covers all meetings, postage, and phone calls. There are no hidden or additional costs. Your case may have some complicating factors, like prior offenses, other charges, or an accident, so the fee in those cases will be higher than a first offense case with no aggravating factors, simply because of the amount of work which goes into a case with complications.

I try to keep my fees affordable, because no one plans on getting arrested. Because of that, you probably don’t have a savings account for “DUI lawyer.” And to make it convenient, I accept credit cards. I will go over with you what my fee is when I have an idea how complicated your case is and what I need to defend you. I do not charge for initial consultations, so you lose nothing to talk to me how I might help you with your case.

It’s Just a DUI – How Serious Can it Be?

For a good person like yourself, a DUI can have lifelong dramatic consequences. First, you must realize that the mere fact of your arrest gives the DMV the opportunity to suspend your license. A person with a DUI conviction on their record can look forward to being dropped by their auto insurance, or at least have ridiculously high premiums for years to come. Some employers will terminate your job if you have a DUI case. The stakes are high.

What Are the Penalties?

There are two sets of penalties for a DUI arrest. The first come from the DMV. They suspend your driver’s license for certain periods if you fail or refuse a breath test.

The criminal penalties are just as harsh. Although there is no mandatory jail for a first offense (you can opt to do 100 hours of community service) you will wind up with a criminal record and probation. Subsequent offenses can mean jail time. In addition, you might be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle.

How Can They Take My License?

The truth is that the state laws are changed every year to make it easier for the DMV to take away your license. In fact, when you are arrested for a DUI, the DMV treats you as “guilty until proven innocent.” This is because driving is not a right but a privilege. The state can take away privileges very easily.

What About Getting To Work? How Am I Supposed To Pay My Mortgage And My Taxes?

The DMV does not care. The prosecutor does not care. As far as they are concerned, those are your problems and not theirs. In some instances you may be eligible for a work permit to drive to work. I can talk to you about this when we meet.

What About the Other Things I Need to Drive for Like Doctors Appointments or to Get Groceries?

I will be happy to explain the work permit process when we get together. To put it simply, the driving privilege you get covers work related driving only.

What Happens if I Drive Anyway?

If you are caught driving when your license is under suspension for a DUI, you are facing a mandatory 30 days in jail, and possibly more, including a further suspension of your license.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on My Record?

A DUI conviction in Connecticut is a life sentence. It does not fall off or get erased from your record automatically. The only way to get a DUI off your record in Connecticut is through a pardon. For a pardon, we recommend the services of Connecticut pardon lawyer Mr. Pardons. Also, even with a pardon application, you are not eligible to even apply until three years after your case is over, and in our experience, you must wait much, much longer to even be considered. This is one reason why it is so important to get the right lawyer and the right approach to your case defense. The decisions you make today and the resolution of your case will have lifelong permanent results.

Is There Any Hope?

Well, I believe that every case can be defended. I spend my time researching and looking for innovative ways to defend these cases. These are not easy cases for the state to prove – but only if you have a lawyer who is willing to put in the time. Many lawyers treat DUI cases as an easy way to make money and plead people guilty. So, you should stay away from those lawyers.

Who is “Lady DUI?”

My name is Teresa DiNardi, and I have been practicing law since 2007 with Ruane Attorneys. Because I am a female, and the criminal defense bar is a male dominated field, I have always stuck out. Since my cases are DUI defense cases, lawyers around the courthouse took to calling me “Lady DUI,” a nickname which has stuck. I am the daughter of a former police officer and grew up in the greater Hartford area. My law firm has trademarked the name “Lady DUI” for my practice.

OK, So What is Next?

First thing you should do is call me. The phone number, 888-LADY-DUI (888-523-9384) rings to my cell phone. If I can, I will answer it. If I am unable to answer it, (usually because I am in court or with a client) please leave me a message and I will call you back as soon as I am able. I try to answer the phone every time it rings. Day or night. Then, put together all of the paperwork you have from the night. Bond receipts, Notice of Rights form, bar tabs or restaurant checks, etc. Keep that in a safe place for me to review when we meet. And try to relax. The toughest part, the humiliation of being arrested, is behind you. We’ll get through this together.

Should I Take Or Refuse The Breath Testing Device?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single correct answer to this question. The proper choice depends on the unique facts of your case. As stated before, the punishment for someone who has no prior Connecticut DUI suspensions of the driver’s license depends on the breath testing device results. If you fail a breath test your license will be suspended. Please contact an attorney to discuss your particular situation.

What Should I Do Immediately Following My DUI Arrest?

Generally, the most important thing to do is to get in contact with an attorney. The sooner you do this, the better. The days and weeks following an arrest are stressful. In order to get the best possible legal outcome, it is crucial to get in contact with an attorney who can explain what is happening and how to manage your case.

What Court Will Hear My Case?

The state of Connecticut is divided up into Judicial Districts; the courthouse assigned to you gets based upon the geographical location of the incident and arrest.

I Had A Prior DUI In Another State And Either Used A Program Or Got Convicted. Will The State Of Connecticut Know About It?

Likely, the answer to this question is ‘yes.’ The local State’s Attorney’s Office will run an extensive criminal background check on you as part of their procedures.

Could This Case Affect A Professional License?

Yes. If you hold a professional license such as a license to practice law, medicine, nursing, engineering, or accounting you should watch out. An alcohol or drug-related conviction could require reporting to your professional licensing board and possible further action.

The Police Officers Didn’t Read Me My Miranda Rights. Is There Anything To Do?

Maybe, largely because Miranda rights are triggered when a person is in custody and responding to questions asked by law enforcement officers. Before questioning a person, a police officer has to warn the driver that anything they say can get used against them in court, and that they have a right to speak with an attorney before answering questions.

If My License Is Suspended By The DMV, And I Am Caught Driving Under Suspension, What Are The Consequences?

If you are caught by the police operating a motor vehicle under suspension, the mandatory minimum is thirty days in jail.

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My name is Teresa, and I am a DUI lawyer, but that is only part of who I am. I have been practicing law in Connecticut since 2006.


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