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DUI Conviction After An Arrest
by James R. De Carli

Imagine that you have just committed for your first DUI offense. The breath test you took indicated a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) well above the legal limit so a conviction is pretty much a certainty. If convicted, you may face fines up to $ 1,000, six months of prison and the loss of your license for at least a year.

Is there a program which can assist in educating the impaired driver after his/her first offense?

The answer is “yes,” through the Pre-Trial Alcohol Education System.


What is Pre-Trial Alcohol Education System?

The Pre-Trial Alcohol Education System (PAES) is service of the State of Connecticut through which a court may offer to a first-time DUI offender, as an alternative to prosecution, the option of attending a substance abuse treatment program.

The program consists of two different “levels” and anyone entering the program is placed in one of these levels. The level with which you are placed in will be determined after you have been evaluated by a qualified substance abuse professional. The first level, Level 1, consists of 15 hours of active participation in group sessions over a 10-week period, as required under Connecticut state statute. The Level 2 program consists of more than 20 hours of active participation in group sessions over a 15 week period. Regardless of level, there may be additional requirements such as attending attendance at community support meeting (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) or another type of addiction support group, and the completion of written work on relevant topics.

A person who successfully completes the program may have the original charges dismissed after one year, provided that they have no further legal difficulties. If the offender does not successfully complete the assigned programming, they may have their prosecution on the original charges resumed.


Who is eligible for this program?

In general, you are eligible for the program if this is your first DUI arrest, you have not been in the program before, and have not been charged with other serious crimes.


How do I get into the program?

You will need to apply to the program at your first court appearance. You will be given a return court date and an evaluation appointment will be arranged which involves a brief assessment and an interview by an agency contracted by the State. The court will receive a recommendation based upon the evaluation using criteria established by the State. At the next court date, usually a month or so later, you will be informed of the decision.


Will the program cost me anything?

Yes, although some health insurance policies may cover all or part of the costs. These costs include a $100 application fee, a $100 evaluation fee, a $325 fee for the Level 1 classes or a $500 fee for the Level 2 classes. If you need to participate in additional treatment programs, you could pay much more.

Also keep in mind that the Department of Motor Vehicles imposes their own penalties that are separate from the Court penalties and the costs associated with the Pre-Trial Alcohol Education Program.


What happens if I do not have the money? 

You can request a postponement of payment until you have the money but the costs do need to be paid. The judge is the only one who can grant such postponements.


If my license was suspended, can I still drive myself to the classes in the program?

No. Anyone who operates a motor vehicle during the period his or her license is under suspension or revocation for driving under the influence or for refusing to submit to a BAC test is subject to a fine of up to $ 1,000 and imprisonment of between 30 days and one year.


Will completing the program mean that I will have no "record"?

If you successfully complete the program then you will not have a conviction record for the DUI although you will still an arrest record. The Police and the Motor Vehicle Departments in all 50 States will have access to this arrest record.


Will I be able to claim that I have no "record" on a job application?

Yes. In the State of Connecticut an employer cannot ask you if you have been arrested, although they can ask you if you been convicted of a crime. Therefore, if you successfully complete the program then you will not have a conviction so you can answer “No” to a question on a job application that asks if you have ever been convicted.


Where can I get more information?



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