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  1. #1

    Default Stopped for DUI Based on a False Tip, BAC of Only 0.04

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Connecticut

    I don't know exactly where to start, but will include all pertinent details and timeline.

    After being awake for 19-20hrs and just having finished a 10hr serving shift at a local pub, I received a shift drink. 9.1% 16oz beer, at midnight, but had eaten very little all day. I decided to stick around and help the bartender clean up and left the pub. Got in my car; and at 2:22am, took a screen capture of my gps to message my girlfriend that I would be there in approx. 17 min, but I would be a little later because I had to stop for gas. (I also took a picture of my digital gas guage saying I had a 5 mile range, time stamped 2:23am.) I put my phone into the hands free grip on my dash. She messaged me a few times along the way suggesting gas stations but all were closed. At 2:36am I arrived at the gas station and replied, "I am at the gas station at the end of your street" (3 min to destination on GPS). I then got distracted and sat on my phone for about 10 minutes. I then went to the attendant window and gave her 20$ cash, no receipt, and went back to my car to pump gas. It was very cold and windy, the gas nozzle had a lock in it, and since I had prepaid and knew I wouldn't go over, I locked it and waited in my car for it to finish. (Car was off.) I sat in my car for about 10-15 minutes total, on my phone, I didn't want to browse or text and drive.
    At 3am. 24 minutes after arrival, I did a screen capture of a product I'd just found and wanted to get on the app LetGo and sent it to my girlfriend. (timestamped, and metadata attached to photo) I got out, put the nozzle back and proceeded to drive away. Within 200 yards of leaving the gas station, I looked into my rearview mirror and was distracted by the bright, close headlights, and crossed over the double yellow line. This particular section of road has potholes and is heavily bowed in the middle to promote runoff from rain/snow etc. Immediately, Police lights came on and I was being pulled over. (Note: I have been pulled over 2 other times within the past 2 months by the same Troop, after leaving my bartending shifts around the same time, having nothing to drink and passed far more extensive field sobriety tests and have been sent on my way, with no ticket/issue whatsoever, one of those times I was in the presence of 5 police officers in at least 3 cars - performing and successfully completing the tests).

    This particular time the police officer immediately states that the reason I am being pulled over is because I "failed to maintain my lane, and that he had received a call from the local gas station that I had been there for over 40 minutes and that constituted as suspicious behavior." (This is completely false. Even with the completed arrest, my ticket is timed 36 minutes after I ARRIVED there)(I also believe this to be a conflict of interest, as this gas station is also a towing service, and the person who called in the false report was the tow truck dispatcher, therefore profiting from the tow that resulted from their call. I would not have been pursued or pulled over had the false report not been made. I also believe this detail to be a key variable leading to my arrest). The police officer asks if and how many I had to drink, I honestly stated that I had 1 beer and when, started almost 3 hours earlier (but drank slowly), and that I had believed it to be metabolized, or I wouldn't have driven. He asks if I am diabetic or have any injuries, and I stated that I had major knee surgery about 2 years prior and had my miniscus removed, and that it was very after this long shift on my feet.
    He said he smelled alcohol on my breath and told me "I need you to step out of the vehicle". He commenced to doing the pen following test, but holding it far into my periferal vision causing me to squint with one eye trying to follow it. Then he made me walk heel to toe, 9 steps, turn and repeat, but mentioned trying to find a flat place in the road, as described earlier, it was uneven. I went one way no problem, pivoted on my heel and after maybe the 4th step back, mistepped. I was immediately told to stop that test and he had me balance on one foot. I followed the instructions, lowered my foot when he asked to 6 inches, flattened my raised foot out when he asked, and didn't waiver at all or lose any balance, but mentioned my knee hurting. With a nod of the other officer he immediately handcuffed me and told me I was under arrest for DUI and had failed my field sobriety test. Again, it took all of maybe 3-4 minutes, whereas my previous tests lasted much longer. Also, he focused on the specific thing that I told him was my weakness.
    My car was then towed by the same gas station/tow service that called and made the false report. I arrived at the police station and cooperated fully. He had me take a breathalyzer test on a huge complex machine and I blew .04 He stated "Well... thats never happened before" and that he had to get his Sargeant. He wouldn't allow me to take the 2nd confirming blow, and instead the Sargeant said I had to take a Urinalysis instead. I agreed, and it has to get sent off to a lab. My court date is coming up in 1 week and I don't even know if the results will be back in time for my trial. I was told that my license would be suspended for 45 days, 60 days or more, and that I would have to sit in this cell for at least an hour.
    Instead, 15 minutes later, I am called back into the administrative checkin area, given back all of my belongings and phone, allowed to call for someone to pick me up, given back my license and told that it wasn't revoked, and that I could drive but couldn't retrieve my car from tow until they officially opened (even though they were a 24hr tow service). 8 hours later I retrieved my car and had also been charged a 'lot fee', and had to pay 128$ to get my car out.

    I have never been arrested before. I have virtually no negative traffic record. I am TIPS/ServSafe certified over 10 years and fully understand responsible alcohol consumption and service. I am over 21 and do not have a CDL license. I know that I am going to have to pay court costs and for a public defender. I feel that due to this conflict of interest, false statement, I was pulled over. I contacted a lawyer and was qouted a 500$ retainer (+ court costs) and frankly I can't afford that. I have been advised by another friend to accept the public defender and ride it out, that the scientific data is the determining factor and that I blew far under the legal limit, that the Prosecutor may throw it out, but that I will likely have multiple court dates if the urinalysis hasn't returned. (Nothing else will show up on that).

    Ultimately, I would like this expunged from my record. I do not believe that I should have been arrested. I do not want this to affect my insurance premium. Honestly, I would like to be refunded my towing fee court, and public defender costs.

    All of this hinged on a false report. I don't know how to get local law inforcement to investigate the dispatcher that called me in, or to check the surveilence cameras to confirm the exact times of my arrival and departure, proving her statement false. Investigating the practices of this tow service and if this has happened before; if the attendant/dispatcher profitted directly through some type of cash commission or personal relationship to the tow-truck driver or business owner. Not to mention the post traumatic stress that I have endured since the arrest, the heightened anxiety and depression associated, and the potential lost wage of me having to take off work to go to court. I have all of these metadata/messages/time stamps printed and organized, including the receipt for my drink. I have countless character witnesses/managers/co-workers that could attest me serving and consuming responsibly.

    I am looking for any advice. How do I achieve the best possible outcome proving my innocence and minimizing expenses associated and what do I need to do to file a report against the tow service or individual?

    Thank you so much for your time and for reading this.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2014
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    Default Re: Connecticut - False Tip Lead to DUI Arrest, Blew .04 at Police Station, Need Help

    Quote Quoting CTduiHELPplease
    View Post
    How do I achieve the best possible outcome proving my innocence and minimizing expenses associated and what do I need to do to file a report against the tow service or individual?
    Your best outcome will be achieved by hiring a DUI lawyer to represent you. If you represent yourself you will be at a serious disadvantage as you do not know the law and criminal procedure very well. A few things to understand here. First, in general calls to the police to report a crime or suspicious activity are given a high degree of protection from claims of defamation or other charges to help encourage people to report possible crimes. Moreover, even if the person reporting it got it wrong, the officer is still entitled to rely on the report that was given unless he or she had reason to think it untrue. That report got the officer to look for your car, and the officer didn’t need any particular reason anyway to spot your car and observe your driving. It wasn’t the report of “suspicious activity” that got you pulled over. At least certainly not the sole reason for it.

    What got you pulled over was the officer’s observation that you failed to maintain your lane. That is a potential traffic violation and also an indication that something else might be going on. That is enough for the officer to have the reasonable suspicion needed for the stop and investigate further what was going on. Once stopped, the officer smelled alcohol on your breath and got your admission that you had consumed alcohol prior to driving. He then proceeded to do a series of tests and determined that you appeared to be impaired. Thus, the evidence of alcohol consumption coupled with impairment provided the cop with the probable cause for the DUI arrest.

    Note that in pretty much every state DUI laws have two parts. It is illegal to drive if either of the following is true:
    1. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is .08 or greater OR
    2. You have had any amount of alcohol or drugs in your system and because of that your ability to drive is impaired.

    So while many people buy into the notion that as long as they have less than .08 BAC they are safe from a DUI prosecution, that is a mistaken belief. Any amount of intoxication, no matter how small, can make you guilty of a DUI if it impairs you. Note, too, that most people who drink think they perform much better than they really do, so often they think they are not impaired when the impairment is obvious to those around them. That’s just a common effect of alcohol that drinkers need to understand so they know not to trust their own senses after they have been drinking.

    The point here is that it is not obvious that the arrest was flawed in any way. Perhaps there is a good defense here for you, but you’re going to need the help of a good DUI lawyer to find it and present it to the court. Maybe something you’ve not said would make the difference here.

    In the future, when asked if you’ve been drinking when pulled over, unless you can honestly answer “no” you probably should just tell the cop you are invoking your right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions about your drinking and driving. Don’t admit to anything. Moreover, while you do in most states need to submit to a blood or breath chemical test under the state implied consent law or risk losing your license, you generally don’t have to do the field sobriety tests (FSTs) and most people would be wise to refuse to do them even if they haven't been drinking. Ask the DUI lawyer you retain for specific advice on how to handle future stops in your state to avoid you yourself giving the cop the evidence he needs to make the case against you.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2016
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    1,116

    Default Re: Connecticut - False Tip Lead to DUI Arrest, Blew .04 at Police Station, Need Help

    For first time offenders in CT is is often possible to have the case sealed and basically made to "go away" but it depends on the court and it takes money. You need an experienced attorney - this is not a do-it-yourself matter.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2018
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    Default Re: Connecticut - False Tip Lead to DUI Arrest, Blew .04 at Police Station, Need Help

    Sorry about the rough deal, buddy. I sympathize. I live very far from CT, so take this with a grain of salt, but you don't need to pay for a lawyer to fight the DUI. Public defender should do. Judging on your eloquence here, you could also defend yourself. Surely with your breathalyzer test half the legal limit, no US court will find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As for your other costs, I suggest shopping for a lawyer willing to sue the county (for free unless you win) for impounding your car... given the breathalyzer test, they clearly made a mistake there. You may be able to recover your undue expenses.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Connecticut - False Tip Lead to DUI Arrest, Blew .04 at Police Station, Need Help

    Quote Quoting zeljo
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    Surely with your breathalyzer test half the legal limit, no US court will find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As for your other costs, I suggest shopping for a lawyer willing to sue the county (for free unless you win) for impounding your car... given the breathalyzer test, they clearly made a mistake there. You may be able to recover your undue expenses.
    You are wrong on that, as I explained in my earlier reply. It is not the case that if your BAC is below .08 that you are clear of a DUI offense. The state can still convict you on a DUI if your BAC is less than .08 as long as it can show evidence of impairment. The reason that having a .08 BAC or higher is significant is that the law presumes impairment when your BAC is that high so the state does not have prove impairment when the BAC is .08 or more. This is something that a lot drivers do not really understand because they focus on the idea that as long as the BAC is below .08 they are free to drive without worry of a DUI. The truth, however, is that you can convicted of a DUI with ANY amount of drugs or alcohol in your system if the state can show impairment. That’s the reason why things like the field sobriety tests and other observations of the driver’s behavior matter so much.

    If the cop had the probable cause for the DUI arrest then the impound of the car was good too. Even if the impound was not legal, the amount the driver would win if he sued would not be enough for most attorneys to be willing to take that on a contingent fee basis.

    Finally, no matter how eloquent you are, representing yourself in a DUI case is a very bad idea, especially when you do not know the law, do not know the rules of criminal procedure, and do not have any courtroom experience. I’m a lawyer and I still wouldn’t be foolish enough to represent myself in a criminal matter. You need someone expert in DUI to have a good shot at the best outcome.

  6. #6
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    Sep 2005
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    California
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    Default Re: Connecticut - False Tip Lead to DUI Arrest, Blew .04 at Police Station, Need Help

    Quote Quoting zeljo
    View Post
    Sorry about the rough deal, buddy. I sympathize. I live very far from CT, so take this with a grain of salt, but you don't need to pay for a lawyer to fight the DUI. Public defender should do. Judging on your eloquence here, you could also defend yourself. Surely with your breathalyzer test half the legal limit, no US court will find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As for your other costs, I suggest shopping for a lawyer willing to sue the county (for free unless you win) for impounding your car... given the breathalyzer test, they clearly made a mistake there. You may be able to recover your undue expenses.
    Interesting you should say this, since I have made DUI cases for under .08 quite a few times. Keep in mind that impairment on substances other than alcohol will result in a BAC of 0.00. And, as TM points out, impairment even at 0.04 BAC is a crime. The burden of proof is higher, but it can be done - I've done it, and so have most officers.

    As for the car, there's unlikely to be any hope of prevailing in a lawsuit there. The impound was likely as a result of the arrest. The arrest was based upon probable cause (a relatively low burden of proof necessary). Since state law allows for an impound under such circumstances, on what grounds do you think the OP might prevail in suing for an unlawful tow?
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Connecticut - False Tip Lead to DUI Arrest, Blew .04 at Police Station, Need Help

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    The burden of proof is higher, but it can be done - I've done it, and so have most officers.
    I know what you are getting at here, but I'll point out that as a technical legal matter that’s not right. The burden of proof is still the same — the state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s the standard for all criminal cases. Rather, when the BAC is below .08 the elements of the offense are greater; the state now has the prove the additional element that the driver was impaired to get a DUI conviction.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Northern California
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    Default Re: Stopped for DUI Based on a False Tip, BAC of Only 0.04

    How do you have a public defender cost? They are free.

    It seems that you driving left of double yellows, which generally is the oncoming lane is more than enough probable cause to stop you, even without the "false tip". Your poor performance on the FST's were probably a contributing factor why you were arrested.

    SFST's were validated in an extensive study. One of the participating agencies was from Colorado and the tests were done there on snow covered ground (that may or may not have been even). Without PAS (or brethalizers), the officers were able to gauge if someone was .10 or over with only the observations from the three SFST's. It is a pure internet conspiracy that FST's are invalidated by uneven terrain or weather.

    Go PD and see what they have to say. They may say your best course is to plea to a lesser or take it to the box (jury trial) since its a .04. Without knowing what the officer wrote in regards to your FST performance it will be hard to gauge your chances of mitigating the damage.

    (Ps, write off the tow fee now because there is a high likelihood you will never see a refund)

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