What Are Connecticut’s Penalties for Multiple DWIs?
Interviewer: What are the penalties for multiple offenses? What happens if you are facing a second, third or fourth offense?
You Are Eligible for the Alcohol Education Program if Your Last DWI Offense Was Ten Years Ago
Jack O’Donnell: Remember, the alcohol education program is for people arrested for the first time or someone who hasn’t used the alcohol program in the last ten years, so you can use it a second time if ten years overlaps.
If You Are No Longer Eligible for the Program for a Second Offense, You Will Still Be Charged as a First Offender
But if you’re no longer eligible for the alcohol education program, you’d be treated as a first offender which is six months in jail, suspended, 18 months of probation, 100 hours of community service, a $500 fine with court costs and then you have to sometimes go to victim impact panels to listen to people speak about how their lives have been impacted by drunk drivers or lost loved ones because of drunk drivers.
Interviewer: So, a second offense could still be classified as a first-time offense?
Jack O’Donnell: Yes. So if you used the alcohol education program in 1990, you can use it again in 2001, you can use it again in 2012. After that, you’ll be considered a first offender.
Interviewer: What’s the most number of DWI charges or convictions someone’s had that you’ve represented?
Jack O’Donnell: I have seen five and six DWIs, and I know there are people out there with more.
Interviewer: If someone has had a DWI arrest already, they shouldn’t give up hope. They can still get the benefit of legal representation, is that right?
Even with Multiple DWI Offenses, You Can Still Benefit from Retaining an Attorney
Jack O’Donnell: Oh, absolutely. There’s still plenty we can do.
Interviewer: What are some of the common defenses you could raise that are successful in having people’s circumstances mitigated?
Jack O’Donnell: Well, I can generally obtain the alcohol education program for you; but it gets harder if there’s been an accident, and it can be more difficult if your blood alcohol levels are elevated, and if you’ve got alcohol and narcotics in your system. As a testament to my ability, I’ve had success getting the alcohol program despite those factors.
Most Often, the Right Attorney Can Help Mitigate the Penalties Associated with DWI
If a client has had multiple offenses, I’ve been able to either keep them out of jail or keep the jail to an absolute minimum.
There are mandatory minimum jail terms and prosecutors may be looking for more than the minimums but you use your powers of persuasion to keep them to a minimum.
Interviewer: Are there any other diversion programs in Connecticut for DUI arrestees?
Connecticut Will Enforce the Penalties for Driving with a DWI-Related Suspended License or Driving Outside of to and From a Place of Employment
Jack O’Donnell: There is only the one alcohol education program. One of the major issues that’s related to DWI is when you lose your license pursuant to a DWI and you’re caught driving under a suspended DWI license or if you’ve got a work permit and you’re caught driving outside the parameters of the work permit, it is an automatic 30 days in jail.
The Penalty Is 30 Days in Jail and Can Be Difficult to Mitigate
So mitigation can come in there but the mitigation that may be available isn’t much help. There are many people who claim, “Oh, if I go to jail for 30 days, I’ll lose my license” or “I’m sole breadwinner”, “I take care of my elderly mother.” Those aren’t the kind of mitigating factors the court is going to listen to.
The court would rather hear the answer to the question, “Was there an emergency that required you to drive?’ And it better be a compelling answer. Now, will a judge turn a complete deaf ear to the breadwinner issues, the sole child care provider issues, only caregiver for an elderly parent issues.
The defensive issue then becomes finding a situation with enough merit to be a mitigating factor, and therefore, helps to lessen the 30 day jail sentence.
I actually encounter these cases quite frequently and as often as DWI defense. This is because as soon as individuals go to court and the prosecutor says, “You better get a lawyer or you’re going to jail for 30 days”, they always call.