Driving under the influence of drug or alcohol is a serious criminal offense in Connecticut. It is often punished with penalties ranging from jail time to civil fines. It can also result in the loss of one’s driving privileges.
To avoid being charged with DUI in Connecticut, motorists need to know how much alcohol they can consume before they reach the legal blood alcohol content limit. They also need to understand what kind of punishments that they can incur if they are charged with and found guilty of DUI in this state.
Driving Under the Influence in Connecticut
Connecticut utilizes implied consent laws for both driver who are licensed by the state as well as motorists who visit from out-of-state. Implied consent means that drivers of all motor vehicles agree to submit to testing of their blood, breath or urine to determine their BAC levels. Drivers who refuse to comply with implied consent laws can be arrested and lose their driving privileges for up to one year.
With that knowledge, drivers can avoid being arrested for DUI by recognizing the legal BAC limit in Connecticut. The per se BAC level for all drivers aged 21 and older is higher than 0.08 percent. Unlike most other states, Connecticut does not have a BAC level for aggravated or enhanced DUI.
The BAC limit for drivers of commercial drivers is lower at 0.04 percent. This lower level accounts for the fact that commercial vehicles pose a greater risk to public safety. People who drive for commercial companies or government agencies must have a BAC that is lower than 0.04 percent to avoid being arrested for driving under the influence.
Connecticut also has a zero-tolerance law regarding underage drivers. Drivers under the age of 21 will be arrested for DUI if their blood, breath or urine samples show an alcohol content percentage of 0.02 or higher. Drivers under the age of 18 are charged as minors while drivers 18 to 21 are charged as adults.
Connecticut DUI Penalties
First-time DUI offenders in the state face a myriad of penalties if they are found guilty. They can be sentenced to a jail term of up to six months. The mandatory jail sentence for a first-time DUI conviction is at least two days.
They likewise are sentenced to a mandatory six months’ probation and required to serve up to 100 hours of community service. They pay a fine between $500 to $1000 and have their drivers’ licenses suspended for up to 45 days. They also must drive with an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for up to one year.
A second DUI conviction in Connecticut can result in a jail sentence of two years with a mandatory minimum of 120 days. It also comes with a 100-hour community service sentence, a fine of $1000 to $4000, and a 45-day license suspension.
Drivers with two DUI convictions must drive with an IID installed on their cars for up to two years. The first year of driving after their conviction is restricted to school, work, an alcohol or drug education program or an approved IID service center.
A third DUI conviction can result in a three-year jail sentence with a mandatory minimum of one year. Offenders must also serve 100 hours of community service and pay a fine of $2000 to $8000. Their licenses will be suspended indefinitely but can be reinstated if they meet certain criteria after two years. They also must drive with an IID on their vehicles but can ask for the IID requirement to be lifted after 15 years.
Underage DUI in Connecticut
Connecticut utilizes a different set of laws to prohibit underage DUIs in the state. These laws pertain primarily to drivers who are 16 and 17 years old. With the state’s zero-tolerance DUI laws for minors, underage drivers cannot have a BAC over 0.02 percent.
If they are arrested for and found guilty of underage DUI, teenage drivers can expect to have their licenses suspended for 48 hour starting from the time of their arrests. They also will have their vehicles seized when they are arrested for this offense.
To regain their licenses and cars, underage drivers who are not emancipated must have their parents or guardians appear in person at the local law enforcement center or state police barracks. They must sign a waiver acknowledging the return of their minor driver’s license. There is no charge for having the license reinstated.
Drivers 18 to 21 years of age are not eligible for underage DUI penalties in Connecticut. Drivers in this age category face adult DUI charges if they have BACs of 0.02 percent or higher.
Ignition Interlock Devices
Connecticut requires certain DUI offenders to drive only vehicles with ignition interlock devices or IIDs installed on them. These devices must be installed at the offenders’ own expense. They also must be installed by an installation service that the state of Connecticut approves.
This device is installed in the car’s ignition and prevents the vehicle from being started without a breath sample from the driver. If the sample is over the per se limit of 0.08 percent, the car will not start. It will sound an alarm like honking the horn or flashing the lights.
Each offender in Connecticut who is ordered to use an IID must pay $100. This fee goes to the state to maintain the IID program.
An IID must be installed on offenders’ vehicles for at least 45 days if they are 21 years old and older. The maximum IID sentence for first-time DUI convictions is one year. Second-time DUI convictions result in IID installations for at least three years. Second and subsequent DUI offenders must also submit to alcohol and drug education classes. DUIs in Connecticut are punished with a variety of penalties ranging from jail terms to monetary fines. Many DUI offenders also must use an IID on their vehicles for at least 45 days. The state has separate DUI laws for drivers under the age of 21. Minors found guilty of DUI face having their licenses suspended and their vehicles seized by law enforcement.