A driver charged with DUI may apply for admission to the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program. The Connecticut state legislature enacted stiff penalties for DUI. So, a statute passed creating the Alcohol Education Program. If a defendant successfully completes the program, their case gets dismissed from court. Understand that no every person charged with DUI can participate in this program. The alcohol education classes get administered by private agencies, and the state will make defendants pay the fee. Currently, the fee is $200. This is paid to the court to cover the costs of your evaluation by the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services. After your evaluation, you return to court in a few weeks. If they agree, the judge will assign you to attend a number of classes for an additional fee of $350 to 500.
Applying to the Program
Applicants to the program will have to make affirmations under oath before a judge. This includes statements that they have not used the program within the past 10 years (or never, if under the age of 21). A major benefit of the program is that the court seals the file when a driver applies for the program. The court can grant the application after considering any recommendations from the State’s Attorney. If the court does grant the application, the driver’s license suspension remains in effect. But, the driver has the option of not starting the program until the end of the license suspension period.
Types of Treatment
The evaluator can also recommend intensive outpatient or inpatient treatment. This is paid directly to the provider. Successful completion will entitle you to a dismissal of the case against you. A dismissal means that no record of the arrest gets kept. The only thing that will remain after a dismissal is a notation on your driving history that you were in the program. This may or may not have insurance implications. That depends on your insurance carrier and your prior record.
It should be noted that one of the strengths of this program for my clients is that they do not admit guilt. In fact, many of my clients who strongly feel that they are not guilty use this program as a way to avoid going to trial and paying for a trial. In a way, it allows the case to “go away” with minimum impact on their life. Most importantly, current law allows you to use this program every 10 years.
If you decide to choose this program, it is easiest to have cash on hand; the clerk of the court accepts MasterCard, Visa, cash or personal check as long as the address on your check matches the address on your license. The fee must get paid the same day as the court appearance. This option is a pretrial program, and most judges will not let you apply after your case has been added to the jury list. So it is important to consider this option before choosing not to use it. Note that if a driver was involved in an accident that caused a serious physical injury or if the DUI charge resulted from operating a commercial motor vehicle, the driver is ineligible for the program. As of January 1, 2014, CDL holders are no longer eligible for the program.
Reinstatement to the program is possible if a person didn’t successfully complete the assigned program or is no longer amenable to treatment. The program provider has to recommend to the court whether the individual would best be served by:
- A 10-session intervention program.
- A 15-session intervention program.
- Placement in a state-licensed substance abuse treatment program.