A Per Se Hearing at the DMV Can Help with DUI License Suspension in CT

Department of Motor Vehicles building

Connecticut drunk driving charges mean more than just a criminal record. A DUI license suspension can take away your driving privileges and make it hard to live your life. Find out how an administrative per se hearing at the DMV can protect your right to drive and avoid an expensive and inconvenient Ignition Interlock Device (IID).

CT DMV Laws About Administrative License Suspension

Getting arrested for drunk driving or drugged driving in Connecticut kick-starts two separate legal proceedings, which can both significantly affect your rights:

  • Criminal proceedings that can result in jail, probation, and fines
  • Administrative proceedings at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend your license

Automatic license suspension proceedings are triggered any time you are charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. It is considered an administrative per se for BAC if your blood alcohol content was greater than .08%. Your license can also be suspended if you refused the breathalyzer or blood test under Connecticut’s implied consent laws.

CT DUI DMV License Suspension Periods

The Connecticut DUI license suspensions depend on your DUI history and whether you took a BAC test:

  • First Offense DUI with BAC test: 45 day suspension, then 6 months with the IID
  • Second Offense DUI with BAC test: 45 day suspension, then 1 year with the IID
  • Third or Subsequent Offense DUI with BAC test: 45 day suspension, then 2 years with the IID
  • First Offense DUI with refusal: 45 day suspension, then 1 year with the IID
  • Second Offense DUI with refusal: 45 day suspension, then 2 years with the IID
  • Third or Subsequent Offense DUI with refusal: 45 day suspension, then 3 years with the IID

These consequences are on top of any penalties in your criminal case. If you are found guilty of DUI you will will face driving restrictions as well:

  • First Offense DUI: 1 year with the IID
  • Second Offense DUI: 3 years with the IID, including 1 year on restricted license (where you may drive only to or from work, school, an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program, an IID service center, or an appointment with a probation officer.)
  • Third or Subsequent Offense: Permanent revocation of your driver’s license which cannot be reconsidered for at least 2 years.

The process of DUI proceedings at the DMV is automatic, but the suspension itself doesn’t have to be. If you or your DUI attorney requests an administrative hearing at the DMV you may be able to avoid having your license suspended, sidestep having to install an ignition interlock device (IID) or shorten the time periods.

How and When to Request a Administrative Hearing for DUI

When you are arrested and charged DUI, those charges will automatically be sent to the DMV. The DMV will mail you an Initial Suspension Notice. This is an extremely important piece of paper. In addition to laying out the reason for the proposed suspension and how long it will last, it also gives you two critical dates:

  • Effective date of suspension: 30 days after your arrest for first time DUIs and immediate for repeat offenses
  • Deadline to Request a DMV administrative per se hearing to contest the suspension: 7 days after the date of the suspension notice

This notice goes through the mail and will be sent to the address listed in the DMV database. By the time you receive this notice, you may only have a few days to request a per se hearing. As of October 2020, the Connecticut DMV suspension unit phone number is 860-263-5204. You can also email a request for a hearing to DMV.AdminPerse@ct.gov.

If you hire a Connecticut DUI lawyer right away after your drunk driving arrest, they can request a hearing on your behalf to make sure you don’t miss your deadline. If this is your first DUI, your attorney may request a one-time 15 day extension of the date of your suspension. This will allow you more time to prepare your defenses and get a Connecticut DMV DUI work permit in place.

What Happens at a Connecticut DMV Administrative Per Se Hearing?

Your Initial Suspension Notice will tell you where your hearing will be held:

  • Bridgeport, CT
  • Old Saybrook, CT
  • Waterbury, CT
  • Weathersfield CT

This is based on the location of your DUI arrest, not your address. If you have hired a DMV lawyer, and you don’t intend to testify, your attorney can appear on your behalf.

4 Criteria for CT DMV DUI License Suspension

At the APS Hearing, the DMV administrative officer will determine if there is “substantial evidence” of four things:

  • Was there probable cause to arrest you for DUI?
  • Were you actually arrested?
  • Did you refuse or fail the chemical blood test?
  • Were you operating a motor vehicle?

Sometimes, a DMV attorney will subpoena the police officer who arrested or tested you to testify. More often, the state’s case will depend on the paperwork filed by those officers and the test results from breathalyzers or blood tests done at the time of the arrest.

How to Win a DMV Administrative Hearing

A license suspension is inconvenient at best, but it isn’t a done deal just because you were arrested for a DUI. The four criteria listed above have many technical aspects that create opportunities for a skilled DUI defense attorney to raise issues and preserve your driving privileges, such as:

  • You passed the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
  • You were a passenger or not driving the vehicle
  • There are errors in the police report
  • There were problems with the way the breath tests were conducted
  • The warrant for blood testing was invalid
  • There was no separate witness of your BAC refusal
  • There is evidence missing from your file
  • You have a medical condition that could affect the test

Many of these defenses depend on hiring an experienced DUI attorney who knows the law around DMV license suspensions. If you have been arrested for DUI, the clock is already ticking. At the Lebedevitch Law Firm, we have helped many Connecticut drivers defend their licenses at DMV administrative hearings and shorten or eliminate time spent using an IID. We will help you defend your criminal record, and your driver’s license, so you can focus on your school work. Contact us for a free consultation.