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Steven A. Tomeo & Associates, LLC

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Steven A. Tomeo & Associates, LLC

DUI Defense AttorneySteven: Here’s where Connecticut is a little bit easier on first offense DUIs than most states. If you never had a conviction for a DUI, and you are charged with a DUI in Connecticut, generally you can be found eligible for the Alcohol Education Program.

The Alcohol Education Program (AEP) Is an Alternate to Traditional Penalties for a First Offense DUI

That’s a program where you do not enter a plea, but you make application for the program. You go for an evaluation which will determine how many classes you are required to attend of this program. Connecticut usually stipulates a 10 class or 15 class series.

After a Year’s Probation and As Long As You Do Not Receive Any Additional Charges, Your Criminal Record Will Be Expunged

Steven: Then there’s a year’s probationary period. You attend the classes. You stay out of trouble. If you do not receive any more charges, and at the end of the year, your case will be automatically dismissed and your criminal history expunged. Then, if you receive another DUI in Connecticut within a 10-year period, then that will be considered your first offense. Then that’s when it’s possible you would go to jail.

In Connecticut, DUI First Offenders Would Typically Be Sentenced to a Suspended Sentence, Probation and Community Service

Generally, the standard penalty for the first offense is six months in jail, of which 48 hours may not be suspended, unless the prosecutor offers you 100 hours of community service in lieu of jail. The typical first offender offer in Connecticut is six months execution suspended, either a year or 18 months of probation and 100 hours of community service. Then there are fines, fees and costs totaling $798. Then, if you pick up another one, then that would be your second offense, which would then be charged at a felony level.

Why Should You Retain an Attorney for Admittance into the AEP?

Interviewer: Is it possible to gain admittance into the AEP without being represented by legal counsel?

Without an Attorney, You Would Have to Speak with the Prosecutor, Who Will Note Your Answers in Writing

Steven: It is possible, but with this caveat. Generally, in Connecticut, and they never used to do this before, but for probably the past three or four years, you have to go to the prosecutor. The prosecutor says to you, “Now, do not forget, you’re a person now that’s been picked up on a criminal violation, DUI.” Now, the prosecutor, whatever he asks you, he’s going to write down, so it’s always possible that you’ve incriminated yourself. He’ll say to you, “Have you ever had a DUI before?” Generally, the person says, “No.” He’ll say, “Well, there’s a program called the Alcohol Education Program is you finish it successfully, that would get the case dismissed.

It Is Advisable to Always Consult an Attorney after Being Charged with DUI

Generally the people say, “Okay,” and they fill out the form, go in front of the judge. Now, in that case, what won’t occur is what an attorney could do, for example, if he or she reviewed the arrest report. It could be a situation in which it was an unjustified police stop and your attorney could have argued successfully to get the case thrown out.

In Connecticut, There Are Two Components to a DUI Charge, One Is Criminal and the Other Is Civil

Also, there’s a second part to a DUI in Connecticut, and that’s everybody who gets charged with a DUI has a suspension hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles. This hearing is separate and distinct from the criminal hearing. One has nothing to do with the other, but oftentimes, if you win at the DMV, you might cause the prosecutor to rethink his situation.

Having Legal Representation Might Increase the Likelihood of Prevailing at the DMV Hearing and May Benefit Your Criminal Case

Especially if you had a lawyer representing you, the prosecutor might give you a break. He or she might think twice about going ahead or might reduce the charge to reckless driving.

Interviewer: What happens if you just take the AEP program? Will you still have your license suspended? Will the Motor Vehicle Department still do that?

Interviewer: Yes, if you lose your DMV hearing your license will be suspended.

Interviewer: So people may think, “Oh, I’ll just go into this program. I do not have to worry about anything,” but it’s not true. You could still end up with no license and problems.

The Length of Your Driver’s License Suspension Issued by the DMV Is Dependent on Your Breath Test Results

Steven: Right, and the length of the DMV suspension is, if your breath test is .08 to .16, a 90‑day suspension. Above .16, it’s a 120‑day suspension. If you refuse to take the breath test, it’s a six month suspension. However, if you went through the Alcohol Education Program and you lost the DMV hearing, you can qualify for a work permit to restore limited driving privileges.

Interviewer: Do you typically see that clients are truly drunk at the time of arrest or are they close to the .08 limit and they are arrested anyway?

Is the Average Blood Alcohol Level of People That Are Arrested for DUI Generally High?

Steven: No, I would say that the better terminology probably would be that, at the worst, they are impaired. In other words, some of their coordination is off.

Interviewer: That’s what I mean. Is drunk driving a misnomer, and a lot of people aren’t really drunk. They are just maybe impaired a bit?

Below the Legal Limit: Some States Still Maintain an Impairment Statute

Steven: Yes, that’s how I would say it. A number of states have an impairment statute. New York State has an impairment statute so that, if you’re at a certain level below .08, it’s driving while impaired. Connecticut used to have an impaired statute. If you were below .08, you got charged with impaired, and so you didn’t suffer the rigid consequences of a DUI.

If You Are Pulled over by the Police and Fail the Sobriety Tests, You Will Be Charged, Regardless of your Breath Test Result

Interviewer: What happens now if you blow below a .08? Will they let you go? Or they’ll charge with something else?

Steven: No, they’ll charge you. Even if you do not have anything in your system. Once they’ve pulled you over, and they say you’ve failed the field sobriety test. I’ve had people with zero alcohol on the breath test, and they’ve still arrested them.

Does Connecticut Have An Alcohol Education Program?

Connecticut has an Alcohol Education Program (AEP) for first-time DUI offenders. The AEP is a pre-trial diversion program designed to provide education and treatment to first-time DUI offenders in lieu of a criminal conviction. The program is available to eligible offenders with no prior DUI convictions or pending charges for other criminal offenses.

The AEP requires participants to complete a substance abuse evaluation, attend alcohol education classes, and comply with any other requirements or conditions set by the court. If the participant completes the program, the DUI charges may be dismissed, and the participant may avoid a criminal conviction on their record.

However, it’s important to note that participation in the AEP is not automatic and is subject to court approval. Eligibility for the program will depend on the case’s specific circumstances, and the decision to participate in the program should be made in consultation with an experienced first-offense DUI attorney.

Overall, the Alcohol Education Program provides a valuable opportunity for first-time DUI offenders to receive education and treatment rather than facing criminal charges and penalties.

Who Is Eligible For The Connecticut Alcohol Education Program?

In Connecticut, certain individuals who have been charged with a first-time DUI offense may be eligible for the Alcohol Education Program (AEP). The program is designed to provide education and treatment to first-time DUI offenders in lieu of a criminal conviction.

To be eligible for the AEP, an individual must meet specific criteria, including:

  • Having no prior DUI convictions or pending charges for other criminal offenses
  • Having no previous participation in the AEP or a similar program in another state
  • Not causing an accident resulting in severe injury or death
  • Being at least 18 years of age

Additionally, eligibility for the AEP is subject to court approval. The court will consider the case’s specific circumstances, including the defendant’s blood alcohol content, any prior criminal convictions, and whether there were any aggravating factors, such as driving with a suspended license.

It’s important to note that participation in the AEP is optional, and individuals must apply for the program and attend an evaluation before being accepted. If you are facing a first-time DUI charge in Connecticut, consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney to understand your legal options and potential eligibility for the Alcohol Education Program.

What Is The Cost Of The Alcohol Education Program In Connecticut?

The cost of the Connecticut Alcohol Education Program (AEP) can vary depending on the specific program and provider selected. However, participants should expect to pay several hundred dollars in program fees and associated costs.

In addition to the program fees, participants may be responsible for other costs, such as:

  • Alcohol assessment and evaluation fees
  • Drug testing fees
  • Court fees and fines
  • Attorney fees

It’s important to note that the cost of the AEP is in addition to any other legal fees or penalties associated with a DUI charge. Participants may also face increased insurance rates or financial consequences due to a DUI conviction.

However, completing the AEP can provide valuable benefits, such as avoiding a criminal conviction and receiving education and treatment for alcohol abuse. Many individuals find that the program’s cost is worth the potential personal and legal benefits.

If you are facing a DUI charge in Connecticut and are considering the Alcohol Education Program, it’s important to understand the potential costs and consult with an experienced DUI convictions attorney to determine the best legal strategy for your case.

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STEVEN TOMEO, ESQ.

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