New Haven First Offense DUI Charges
In New Haven, DUI charges are taken very seriously by the court, and a DUI conviction can negatively impact a person’s life in countless ways, including how others look at a person, and that person’s ability to be employed.
For this reason, it is important to have a strong defense from a New Haven DUI lawyer on your side if you have been charged with a DUI to work toward minimizing the penalties against you and toward avoiding a conviction.
Prosecution of First Time Charges
If arrested, all DUI charges in New Haven are heard at the Elm Street courthouse. Also, for a number of towns outside of New Haven, charges for a DWI arrest are heard at that same courthouse.
Each case is handled differently, but generally, the first thing the court looks at is the police report to see if there are any aggravating factors concerning the DWI arrest, such as reckless driving, excessive speeding, or any issues with the license. They will also check if there was an accident and injuries associated with that accident, and they will look for the breath alcohol or blood alcohol test numbers. All of those factors will determine how difficult a case is going to be and how difficult the state will be in handling the case.
Prosecutors often offer a probation diversion program to first-time offenders, that is the Alcohol Education Program; however, whether the state objects or agrees to the program depends on the list of mitigating factors. If a person is eligible for the program, the state does not object, and there are no serious aggravating factors, then that person will most likely end up getting the program. Then there is the situation where an individual has already used the program and now it is considered their first offense. Although it is a misnomer to say it is their first offense, they actually can have two first offenses.
If it is a person’s first arrest ever, they are eligible for what is called the Alcohol Education Program (pdf), which leads to a dismissal of the charges altogether if they successfully complete the program. This program can range from some alcohol classes that meet once a week over 10 or 15 weeks to theoretically some kind of intensive outpatient, or even inpatient treatment, though that is rare.
Individuals only get one chance at this program, and they can only use it once every ten years. Also, if a person already uses a program in Connecticut or has used a program like this in another state, they are what is known as a first-time offender and the penalty would be up to six months in jail. A person’s first offense for which they use the program is really not considered an offense at all. Then, for their second arrest, the courts treat it as their first-time offense. In that case, if there are no aggravating factors, they are looking at probation. Two days of this penalty is mandatory with a period of probation and a mandatory fine, and it also carries a license suspension penalty.
Building a Defense in New Haven
There are a number of ways to attack the chemical test. An attorney looks at what type it is and whether or not it meets the statutory requirements for that type of test. If there is no test, then they look at other factors the prosecution may use to prove the case was a DUI.
Under Connecticut law, there are two ways somebody can be charged with DWI, and often times, they are charged under both of these areas simultaneously. The first way is called per se theory of the case, which is whether or not the person’s blood alcohol level is in excess of 0.08.
The second way a person can be charged is what is known as common law theory of the case. This applies if there is no chemical test. The charge is based on whether or not the person was driving with caution characteristic of a similar person under the same or similar circumstances. Essentially, even if there is no chemical test the state could pursue a DUI charge based on erratic driving.
Therefore, the very first thing an attorney looks at is whether or not there is a test. If there is not a test, they look if there is other evidence, such as field test and the officer’s observations, that might prove that erratic driving was caused by some level of intoxication.