Connecticut DUI laws are unique many ways. The state leads the way in insurance practices in addition to taking unique stances when it comes to DUI laws in some areas, including its harsh stance on implied consent laws.
When it comes to conventional DUI infractions, however, Connecticut is similar to the rest of the United States. Any driver pulled over for a suspected DUI with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or greater may be subjected to immediate arrest. Under Connecticut DUI laws, a driver of a commercial vehicle with a BAC level of .04 percent or greater can also be immediately placed under arrest. Connecticut additionally enforces zero-tolerance laws, ordinances designed to place penalties on drivers younger than 21 years old who are caught driving under the influence. An underage driver with a BAC of .02 percent or greater may be arrested and face additional penalties.
Automatic Penalties for Violations of Implied Consent Laws
In the state of Connecticut, refusing to submit to a blood test when suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which violates the state’s implied consent statutes, will essentially double the punishment that comes with every offense. According to Connecticut DUI laws, the first time that a driver refuses to submit to testing, he or she faces a license suspension for a period of six months. The second time, a one-year penalty is possible. The third refusal will come with a license suspension period of three years.
Possible Jail Time
Jail time that can come with a DUI offense in the state is minimal. However, the sentence varies wildly depending upon a defendant’s driving history. Judges can consider prior DUI offenses for up to 10 years, a period is known as the “look-back period,” when determining sentencing.
The first offense can come with a sentence of two days jail time at a minimum while the second offense can result in immediate jail time that lasts for 120 days. The third offense may allow the judge to mandate at least one year in jail.
These penalties may seem severe; however, defendants do have the option of pleading to a “wet reckless” charge in Connecticut. This plea allows them to be convicted of reckless driving involving alcohol, which is a misdemeanor.
It is also likely that a person convicted of a DUI in Connecticut will receive community service in addition to other penalties as part of his or her sentence. Jail time is often suspended in lieu of 100 hours of community service. This option for punishment is completely dependent upon the discretion of the judge in light of a defendant’s record of prior offenses.
Connecticut is not flexible when it comes to statutes that determine felony DUI. Drivers who face a DUI with only one previous DUI offense in the past 10 years will automatically be given a felony DUI. Drivers operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs and alcohol who cause the injury or death of another individual will also face felony DUI charges.
Changes to Connecticut DUI Laws
New DUI laws went into effect Jan. 1, 2012, that toughened existing penalties for first-time offenders. All individuals convicted of their first DUI are now required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle at their own expense. On the other hand, perhaps due to the new IID requirement, the license suspension period for a first-time offender was reduced from one year to 45 days.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Connecticut?
A Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge is filed when a person is deemed impaired while driving or has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is over the legal alcohol limit.
Passenger motorists on Connecticut roadways are subject to a limit of .08 percent. Individuals driving commercial vehicles must observe a stricter BAC limit of .04 percent, and people under 21 may be prosecuted with a blood alcohol level of .02 percent.
Potential penalties for DUI in Connecticut are severe. Punishments for standard driving under the influence offenses may include:
- For a first DUI, a person may face a jail sentence of up to six months, a fine of $1,000, loss of driving privileges for 45 days and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID).
- For a second offense, an individual may face up to two years in jail, a fine of $4,000, a driver’s suspension of up to 45 days and required compliance with ignition interlock law.
- For a third (or subsequent) offense, a motorist may be incarcerated for up to three years, sustain a fine of $8,000 and face revocation of a driver’s license.
Clearly, the penalties associated with driving under the influence offenses are severe and potentially life changing. The specific circumstances of an offense typically have a large impact on penalties levied against individuals.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In Connecticut
Connecticut is among more than 20 states requiring the installation of an ignition interlock device after any DUI offense. This action is a condition for restricted driving privileges following a DUI.
Connecticut law outlines provisions for ignition interlock devices, including:
- Devices prevent a vehicle from starting with a BAC sample greater than .025 percent.
- Failed breath tests during the course of driving require that a person stop.
- All financial obligations of an IID are the responsible of the person convicted.
Connecticut has an offender diversion program that may allow a person to avoid having to install an IID after a first offense, though repeat offenses typically require installation.
Connecticut DUI Penalties
A DUI is committed in the state of Connecticut if a driver’s blood-alcohol content, or BAC, is .08 percent or greater. This limit drops to .04 percent for commercial drivers and .02 percent if the driver is under the age of 21. A first offense DUI is considered a misdemeanor in Connecticut and all subsequent offenses committed within 10 years are considered felonies.
Connecticut law stipulates that any driver convicted of a DUI, even on a first offense, must have their license suspended for no less than 45 days if they are over the age of 21. They must also install and maintain an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a specified period of time. This period varies with the number of DUI charges accrued. The driver’s vehicle must also be impounded for at least 48 hours.
Connecticut Penalties for a First DUI Offense
The mandatory minimum prison sentence for a first DUI is two days and can be extended to up to six months. Any sentence over two days can be suspended in favor of probation for the same period with an additional 100 hours of community service. The fine for a first offense may be as little as $500 and as much as $1,000. The period of mandatory use of an ignition interlock is one year after serving the minimum 45-day license suspension.
Connecticut Penalties for a Second DUI Offense
This is the level at which a DUI in Connecticut becomes a felony charge. The prison sentence for a second DUI carries a mandatory minimum of 120 days and may be as long as two years. Part of this sentence can be suspended in favor of probation with an additional 100 hours of community service. The fine is, a minimum, $1,000 and may be as much as $4,000. If the person who is convicted is under the age of 21, that person’s driver’s license will be suspended for either three years or until the person turns 21. The longer suspension period will be enforced. After the end of that suspension, the person will be barred from operating a vehicle unless it is equipped with a fully-functioning ignition interlock device for a period of two years. If the person who is convicted is above the age of 21, the person’s license will be suspended for one year. After the end of the suspension, the person will not be allowed to operate a vehicle that is not equipped with an ignition interlock device for two years.
Connecticut Penalties for a Third and Subsequent DUI Offense
The prison sentence for a third or subsequent conviction within a period of 10 years carries a mandatory minimum of one year and can be as long as three years. Incarceration after one year can be suspended in favor of probation with at least 100 hours of community service. The minimum fine is $2,000, and the maximum fine is $8,000. The person’s driver’s license is automatically revoked as well.
Connecticut Penalties for Refusal of Testing
Connecticut statutes suggest that an individual who is operating a motor vehicle consents to chemical testing for intoxicants that cause impairment. A person’s first refusal of a breathalizer test results in an automatic license suspension period of six months. A person who refuses a second time will be subjected to a one-year license suspension, and a third offense will result in an immediate three-year suspension.