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Connecticut man's DUI charge worsened by special law


Many drivers travel out of state on a daily basis, while others only cross the border for vacations or other special occasions. When you drive to a different state, you leave Connecticut drunk driving laws behind. However, you may find the rules are much harsher in states you visit than in your home state.

A Connecticut driver was involved in a one-car accident in neighboring New York State on Christmas Eve. The 40-year-old man and his unidentified passenger were not injured. The Ridgefield man was arrested and accused of a felony drunk driving charge.

The driver was given a breath test. Investigators said the man's blood alcohol content level was 0.19 percent. The legal limit in all states is 0.08 percent.

Police charged the driver with Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated, a Class E felony. In New York, under Leandra's Law, felony charges are filed against drivers operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol when a passenger in the vehicle is a minor under 16. Reports said the defendant's passenger was younger than 17, but didn't state an exact age.

It made no difference that the passenger was uninjured. The driver was arrested and jailed without bail.

In other circumstances, driving alone or with an adult, the defendant might have been charged only with DWI. Any drunk-driving charge can have serious consequences, but a felony charge may include the harshest penalties of all, including some that cause life-long hardships. A felony conviction can result in an inescapable criminal record, ruining everything from job opportunities to loan approvals.

If you are charged with a crime out of state, your legal representative must be licensed to practice law in that state. Many Connecticut attorneys hold multiple licenses. Even when a preferred attorney cannot take your case, he or she may be able to help locate a well-qualified replacement in the state where you face charges.

Source: Ridgefield Patch, "Ridgefield Man, 40, Arrested on DWI Charge in Lewisboro Under 'Leandra's Law'" Alfred Branch, Dec. 29, 2014