OUI Lawyer serving the entire State of Connecticut
Have you been charged with Operating Under the Influence (OUI) in Connecticut? For an Immediate Consultation, Give J. Christopher Llinas at Llinas Law, LLC a Call 860-530-1781
You may had been drinking but felt well enough to drive. Before you knew it, you were sitting handcuffed in the backseat of a police patrol vehicle.
You may have made a bad decision. We all do.
And right now, you have a million questions running through your mind…
“Will my driver’s license be suspended?”
“How much money will this cost me in fines?”
“Will I have to go to jail?”
“If this goes on my permanent record, could it impact my current or future employment status?”
Operating Under the Influence (OUI) of alcohol and/or drugs is a serious offense that can have life-altering consequences, both before the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and before the Courts. Before the DMV, you face the potential suspension of your driver’s license, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. And before the Courts, you face possible jail time, probation, fines, and court costs. That’s why you need an experienced and trusted criminal and traffic defense lawyer by your side.
J. Christopher Llinas at Llinas Law, LLC is a former prosecutor, public defender, and private defense attorney with over 20 years experience tackling tough cases. With that experience, he will listen carefully to the specifics of your drunk driving case, and work with you to craft a defense that attempts to provide you with the best possible outcome.
Call J. Christopher Llinas at Llinas Law, LLC today at 860-530-1781 for a FREE consultation.
Before the DMV
The Issues at the Hearing
Before the DMV, there are 4 key issues the hearing officer to consider in determining whether to suspend your driver’s license for either producing a blood alcohol content (BAC) result of 0.08 or refusing to submit to a BAC test (usually a breathalyzer):
- Whether the officer had probable cause to arrest you for OUI;
- Whether you were placed under arrest;
- Whether, within 2 hours of operation, you refused to submit to a BAC test or did submit and produced a result of 0.08 or more; and
- Whether you were operating a motor vehicle.
Relative to these 4 key issues, there are a number of defense strategies, often technical, that we may be able to pursue. Please keep in mind, however, that without knowing the details of your case, these may or not be relevant. These issues may include:
- Whether you were properly and fully advised of your administrative rights and the liabilities associated with your choice of whether or not to submit to a BAC test
- Whether you were properly advised of and taken through the regimen of field sobriety tests (FST’s)
- Whether the officer “dotted all his i’s and crossed all his t’s” relative to the applicable procedures and administrative paperwork associated with your case
- Whether the breathalyzer machine in your case was in proper working order, and was properly used utilized, in accord with manufacturer and departmental guidelines and procedures
- Whether you had a medical condition that caused you to be unable to provide a sufficient breath sample, despite your best efforts to do so
Possible Administrative Consequences
If you fail to request a DMV hearing, or, if you request one, and the DMV hearing officer concludes that in the affirmative on the 4 issues noted above, they will order that your license or privilege to drive in Connecticut be suspended for 45 days, and that this suspension then by followed by a period of time with an ignition interlock in your vehicle. That period depends on whether you submitted to the test or refused, and on whether you have any prior such offenses in the past, and can run anywhere from 6 months to 3 years in length.
Before the Court
The Main Issue
Before the Court, the main issue is whether the State can prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of each and every element of the offense of Operating Under the Influence (OUI). The elements of OUI are as follows:
Element 1 – You operated a motor vehicle
- “Operation” in Connecticut is defined broadly, to include “intentionally doing any act or making use of any mechanical or electrical agency that alone, or in sequence, will set in motion the motive power of the vehicle.”
Element 2 – At the time you operated the motor vehicle, you were:
- under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or both, such that your mental, physical, or nervous processes were so affected that you lacked to an appreciable degree the ability to function properly in relation to operation of your motor vehicle,” OR
- You had an elevated blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more (grams per 100 milliliters of blood, or grams per 210 deciliters of breath)
The Primary Areas of Inquiry
- The Stop – This is matter of constitutional matter, where the issue is whether the police had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop you, or, if you were already stopped, to approach you. It could be for an equipment violation, a traffic violation, or suspicion of a criminal offense, but it has to be supported by specific and articulable facts. The police can’t just stop you on a hunch.
- The Officer’s Initial Observations – This all has to do with initial indicators of possible intoxication, like odor of alcohol on breath and person, bloodshot and glassy eyes, slurred speech, fumbling to get license and registration, how you move when getting out of the car, etc. The challenge here is often to show that the observed conduct is related to some cause other than intoxication.
- The Field Sobriety Tests – WHEN THE POLICE ASK YOU TO PERFORM THESE TESTS, POLITELY DECLINE. You are under no legal obligation to perform them, and there is no criminal or administrative penalty for not doing so. These are 3 special tests, developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to help the officer establish probable cause, or not, as to whether you are under the influence. 1) the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, where the officer holds a pen in front of your eyes, and has you follow it with your eyes; 2) the Walk & Turn test, where the officer has you walk 9 steps, turn around, and walk 9 steps back; and 3) the One-Legged Stand test, where the officer has you stand on one leg, with the other leg extended off the ground, for a count of 30. The instruction and demonstration of these tests is highly technical, as are the “clues” of intoxication the officer is looking for.
- Any Searches of Your Person or Vehicle – DO NOT CONSENT TO A SEARCH OF YOUR PERSON, YOUR BELONGINGS, OR VEHICLE. If the police ask, politely decline. They need reasonable suspicion that you are armed and dangerous in order to pat you down, they need probable cause to search your person or vehicle. If they proceed to pat you down or search your person or vehicle, even after you refuse consent, let them. Do not fight or argue with them. That will only make matters worse. Leave the arguments for court. But, again, do not consent to a search.
- Any Statements You Make While in Custody – DO NOT ANSWER POLICE QUESTIONS, OTHER THAN TO PROVIDE LICENSE OR IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION, REGISTRATION, AND INSURANCE. The police will ask you all sorts of questions – have you been drinking, where are you coming from, where are you going, etc. Politely decline to answer. Give them your license or ID info, your registration, and your insurance. But don’t answer questions.
- The Arrest – If the police arrest you, do not resist, argue, or fight. They need probable cause for such an arrest. That is an argument for court, not the roadside.
- The Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Test, or The Refusal – IF YOU’VE HAD 2 DRINKS OR LESS, TAKE THE CHEMICAL TEST (breath, blood, or urine). IF MORE THAN 2 DRINKS, REFUSE. UNLESS YOU HOLD A CDL – THEN ALWAYS TAKE THE TEST. There are significant legal and technical issues surrounding these chemical tests, and their implementation, both before the DMV and the Court. As well, your decision to take the test, or refuse, carries significant potential administrative consequence before the DMV. Attorney Llinas will review the evidence to see what arguments can be made to help you, before both the DMV and Court.