Connecticut DUI Laws & Penalties
Penalties for DUI offense in Connecticut are very harsh starting from your very first conviction. They can be as harsh as the penalties that you may get in another state for the second or the third DUI. That’s why operating a vehicle under influence of alcohol or drugs is not a good idea and you should avoid it at all costs. But if you have done it already, learn what does your offense mean and what are the consequences that it brings to your future.
What is a Connecticut DUI Offense?
You commit a Connecticut DUI offense by operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of both alcohol and drugs.
The influence is measured by a chemical test upon request by a police officer. The test shall determine your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level.
You are deemed to be under the influence if you drive with a BAC as follows:
- 0.02% for drivers under the age of 21
- 0.04% for commercial drivers
- 0.08% for all other drivers
Having a BAC at or above these limits means a DUI per se offense. Being impaired, but under these limits, leads to a DWAI offense.
Aside from being caught with such a BAC or impairment by a police officer, you may get charged with DUI and convicted if you refuse to take a test upon request by the officer or by having an open container filled with alcohol in your vehicle while driving.
Operating a motor vehicle in Colorado means that you have expressed your consent to have your BAC tested. If you refuse to do so, you’ll be arrested and get DUI charges.
Also, you must not have an open container filled with alcohol in your car. Any glass, bottle, or another type of container that has a broken seal is prohibited in an operating vehicle. If you or any of your passenger have one, you won’t avoid DUI charges, even if you do not drink at all.
The only exception from the “open container” law are the passengers in a taxi or bus, or if the drink is in the living parts of a motorhome or house trailer.Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter whether you are really drunk or not. As long as your BAC meets these thresholds, you are guilty of DUI.
If you do not submit to the test, however, you won’t avoid an arrest and charges. According to Connecticut implied consent law, every driver agrees to a chemical test at the moment when he or she starts the vehicle. The police officer is not allowed to force you to do the test, but if you refuse to do it voluntarily, you’ll be arrested and get DUI charges.
If your BAC level is above the prescribed limits or you refuse to do the test, the following will happen to you:
- You will be arrested and read your rights.
- Your vehicle will be towed on your own expense.
- You will spend time in police lock-up until bailed out.
Admissibility of Evidence Against Drivers
A police officer has pulled you over, tested your BAC if you didn’t refuse, and got evidence that you have been driving under influence. However, it doesn’t mean yet that you will be convicted.
Such evidence is admissible in court only if the following requirements are met:
- You have been given a reasonable opportunity to call a lawyer prior to the chemical test.
- A copy of the test results has been delivered to you within 24 hours of the test or the next business day.
- The test has been administered by the methods approved by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
- The test equipment has been checked for accuracy.
- The test must occur within 2 hours of the time of the alleged offense, i.e. when the police officer pulled you over.
- A second test must of the same kind must be done at least 10 minutes after the first test unless the test shows the presence of drugs.
- If the test shows the presence of drugs, there must be a second one, but it does not have to be of the same kind as the first one or be administered within the same time frame.
These are grounds on which you and your DUI lawyer may defend your case in front of the court. Without proper and admissible evidence, there is no case against you.
Is There an Open Container Law in Connecticut?
Connecticut is one of the only 10 US states without an open container law. The states that have enacted such law, punish drivers who have an open container filled with an alcoholic beverage in their vehicle while driving, even if they are not drunk.
The state of Connecticut does prohibit drinking while operating a vehicle but allows the passengers to drink at the same time.
The driver is not allowed to have an open container with alcohol in the vehicle in the following situations:
- If driving on a public highway.
- On a parking lot for at least 10 vehicles.
- On certain classes of roads.
- On school property.
What Are the Penalties for Connecticut DUI Offense?
The penalties for DUI offense in Connecticut are harsher than in many other US states. It is important to note that Connecticut DUI laws prescribe a lookback period of 10 years, which means that your convictions in the last 10 years will count as subsequent. The number of subsequent DUIs determine the penalties for your offense.
First Connecticut DUI Offense
Your very first DUI offense in Connecticut brings the following penalties:
- Jail time between 2 days and 6 months.
- If the jail time is suspended with probation after the mandatory 2 days, then you have to spend 100 hours in community service.
- Fines between $500 and $1000.
- Driving license suspension of 45 followed by 1 year of driving with an ignition interlock device.
- Alcohol and drug assessment through the Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division.
- Possible Connecticut DUI program.
Second Connecticut DUI Offense
The second DUI offense the Nutmeg State committed in 10 years after the first one is punishable by the following penalties:
- Jail time between 120 days and 2 years.
- If the jail time is suspended with probation after the mandatory 120 days in jail, then you have to spend 100 hours in community service.
- Fines between $1000 and $4000.
- Driving license suspension of 45 followed by 3 years of driving with an ignition interlock device.
- If the driver is under 21 years of age, then the driving license is suspended for 45 days or until driver’s 21st birthday, whichever is longer, followed by 2 years of driving with an installed ignition interlock device.
- In the first year, you are limited to driving only to work, school, hospital, to an alcohol and drug treatment center, and an ignition interlock device center.
- Alcohol and drug assessment through the Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division.
- Possible DUI education program.
Third and Every Other Subsequent Connecticut DUI Offense
- Jail time between 1 and 3 years.
- If the jail time is suspended with probation after the mandatory 1 year in jail, then you have to spend 100 hours in community service.
- Fines between $2000 and $8000.
- Permanent revocation of your driving license.
- Possibility to restore your driving license after 2 years of the revocation if you meet the requirements set by the DMV for your particular case.
- Alcohol and drug assessment through the Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division
- Possible alcohol and drug classes.
Connecticut DUI Penalties for Commercial Drivers
Holders of Commercial Driving License (CDL) face severe penalties in the case of driving under influence under the following circumstances:
- A BAC of 0.04% or more while driving a commercial vehicle.
- A BAC of 0.08% or more while driving any other type of vehicle.
- Refusal to submit to a BAC test.
- DUI conviction.
The first DUI offense of a CDL holder brings 1 year of CDL suspension in addition to all other penalties, no matter what kind of vehicle the driver was operating at the time of committing the offense. If he has been driving hazardous materials, the suspension enhances to 3 years.
The second DUI offense means a permanent revocation of the CDL.
DUI Penalties for Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test in Connecticut
In Connecticut and all around the United States, refusing to submit to a chemical test of breath, urine, or blood does not save you from DUI charges and conviction. Your refusal will serve as evidence in the court proceedings against you and most often will lead to a conviction.
Refusing to do the test, in addition to the other penalties, brings driving license suspensions for longer periods of time, as follows:
- 45 days suspension followed by 1 year of driving with an installed ignition interlock device.
- 45 days suspension followed by 2 years of driving with an installed ignition interlock device.
- 45 days suspension followed by 3 years of driving with an installed ignition interlock device.
Driving with Suspended Driving License in Connecticut
Driving with a suspended driving license is not a wise choice in Connecticut or anywhere else in the US. If you do it during your first suspension, in addition to all other penalties, you’ll face a fine of $150-200 and 3 months in jail.
Aside from that, the court and the DMV may impose much harsher conditions for reinstating your driving license once you pay your dues.
That means that your driving license will be suspended, no matter if you’re charged criminally or not. Upon receiving the notice for suspension, you have 7 days to request a hearing. To do so, you must go in person at the DMV and submit the request. That will delay the driving license suspension, but it doesn’t mean that it will never happen.
How to Reinstate Your Connecticut Driving License
Connecticut DMV requires reinstating your driving license only by mail. You need to send them all the required documents and evidence that you have paid the fee. Do it at least 2 weeks before your eligibility date.
The documents that you need to send as well as your date of eligibility are stated in the suspension notice. In most cases, the necessary documents include evidence for SR22 insurance, evidence that you have served your sentence and completed any assessment and treatment programs.
Top 20 Cities for DUI Arrests in Connecticut
- New Haven
- New Britain
- West Haven
- New London