Connecticut Drug Crimes
Fairfield and New Haven County Drug Crime Attorney
While most people think of a DUI arrest involving alcohol, the Connecticut statute makes it illegal to drive under the influence of “intoxicating liquor or any drug or both.” With the recent legalization of marijuana in neighboring states, DUI arrests while under the effects of this substance are becoming more and more common. It is difficult for officers to determine if someone is under the influence of marijuana, as there is no breathalyzer to verify the level of intoxication. In situations where the police believe that the individual is under the influence of marijuana, it is a partially subjective analysis which may lead to the officer arresting the individual.
Drug Recognition Evaluators
A drug recognition expert or drug recognition evaluator (DRE) is a police officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. A DRE is skilled in detecting and identifying persons under the influence of drugs and in identifying the category or categories of drugs causing the impairment. The DRE will carefully observe the individual’s appearance and behavior. There is a 12-step process that takes approximately one hour to determine if the individual is intoxicated and what type of substance they are on. These tests take approximately one hour to complete and usually take place back at the police station after an arrest has been made. As of December of 2018, the state of Connecticut had 52 DREs.
The categories of drugs officers look for are:
- Central nervous system (CNS) depressants;
- CNS stimulants;
- Dissociative anesthetics;
- Narcotic analgesics;
- Inhalants; and
What Officer’s Look For in Marijuana DUI Arrests.
Common signs that officers are looking for when they stop an individual, they assume is under the influence of drugs are:
- The odor of marijuana;
- Glossy eyes;
- Bloodshot eyes;
- Slurred speech;
- Slow motor skills;
- Impaired cognitive function;
- Driving too slowly; and
- Erratic driving or weaving.
Police also rely on testing body fluids such as saliva and urine, but these tests take time to return results.
Is There A “Legal Limit” for Marijuana
Currently there is no equivalent to a blood alcohol content of .08 with the presence of marijuana in a person’s system. This makes it difficult for officers to make decisions as to whether or not an individual is under the influence of marijuana. The standardized field sobriety tests are also geared toward being under the influence of alcohol, so they are not necessarily accurate when determining if someone is under the influence of marijuana.
Will Your License be Suspended if Arrested for a Drug DUI
Much like with arrests for being under the influence of alcohol, your license will be suspended for being arrested for a drug DUI. Once the officer administers the breath test and your results return lower than expected, the officer may switch to a blood or urine analysis to determine if you are under the influence of drugs. If you submit to this test, you will face the same penalties as you would if you submitted to the breath test.
If You Took the Chemical Test
- First Offense DUI – 45 days of no driving, then 6 months with the IID (Ignition Interlock Device).
- Second Offense DUI – 45 days of no driving, then 1 year with the IID.
- Third and Subsequent Offenses – 45 days of no driving, then 2 years with the IID.
If You Refused the Chemical Test
- First Offense DUI – 45 days of no driving, then 1 year with the IID.
- Second Offense DUI – 45 days of no driving, then 2 years with the IID.
- Third and Subsequent Offenses – 45 days of no driving, then 3 years with the IID.
If Found Guilty of DUI
- First Offense DUI – 1 year with the IID.
- Second Offense DUI – 3 years with the IID. During the first year 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 and Subsequent Offenses – Permanent revocation of driver's license. You must wait at least two years from the date of revocation to request a hearing for reconsideration
Alcohol Education Program and Marijuana DUI Arrests
If you have not been arrested for a DUI in this or any other state, and have not used the Alcohol education program in the last 10 years, you may be eligible for this program to have the charge dismissed against you. If you are arrested for a DUI and you are under the influence of marijuana, you may still be eligible for this program. While the program is tailored to learning the effects of alcohol on an individual, it is used to dismiss all charges of DUI. The alcohol education program is a privilege and not a right. A top Connecticut attorney can help you gain entry into this program, and dismiss the charges against you.
An arrest for a DUI while under the influence of marijuana may also be used to enhance the penalty of a DUI. You may face mandatory minimum jail time, have a lengthened period of probation, and lose your license for an extended period of time. The fines you will face will be substantial, and your insurance rates are likely to greatly increase.
Challenging Drug DUI Charges in Connecticut
Many officers use subjective observation and experience to determine if an individual is under the influence of marijuana or drugs. This type of an arrest can be challenged in court. At the Lebedevitch Law Firm, we look to ensure it was more than just the officer’s subjective belief that you were under the influence of drugs. We will thoroughly evaluate all the evidence in your case, and fight for an acquittal, and at the same time, find all the evidence to minimize any consequences of a potential conviction.