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Connecticut considering new DUI felony if child passengers present

Most people charged with drunk driving do not think of themselves as major criminals. They may have had a few drinks at a happy hour or while visiting with friends, and were surprised to find that they were allegedly over the limit while driving. They may be uncertain about what they need to do next to protect themselves during this difficult time.

As these motorists go through the process, they may be surprised to find out how serious it can be if convicted. The penalties for a DUI conviction often increase each year. Legislators propose new laws that are designed to deter impaired motorists from getting behind-the-wheel. A recent bill proposed in Connecticut may mean serious felony charges for some motorists arrested for DUI within the state.

Legislators have been concerned over the fact that Connecticut does not have specific rules in place that addresses impaired motorists operating vehicles that have children as passengers. This means that if arrested, the motorist will be facing regular DUI charges and not be charged with a more serious offense because of the children.

The new law would allow those impaired motorists who have child passengers to be potentially facing felony child endangerment charges. If convicted of the new offense, motorists could be facing significant time in prison, a substantial increase over normal DUI penalties.

Connecticut is one of seven states without one of these laws in effect. The proposal is modeled after Leandra's Law, New York's law concerning impaired drivers with child passengers. Leandra's Law convictions may result in motorists facing up to four years in prison.

Critics of the Connecticut bill say that the state has other ways to address this issue, as prosecutors may charge these motorists with risk of injury to a minor. Prosecutors are not required to bring those charges, and may drop them in deals in return for a guilty plea. The new law may make it more difficult for those charged with these crimes to negotiate with prosecutors.

When facing drunk driving charges, it is important to remember that you have rights. Law enforcement officers must follow the proper procedures when they make a drunk driving arrest, and if they fail to do so, some of the evidence that they have may be inadmissible if a trial becomes necessary.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you defend yourself against these charges. You may not be aware of all of the potential consequences that will result if you are convicted. If you are accused of later drunk-driving related offenses, the penalties that you are facing will only increase. You need to know the options that are available in your case.