Connecticut DUI Laws

Connecticut DUI Laws

by Corie Lynn Rosen, December 2009

When we think of Connecticut we may think of rambling old estates and the sweet breezes of summer in the country. However, Connecticut boasts more to understand than the simple pleasures. Connecticut DUI law is well worth knowing about for anyone who plans to spend as little as a summer or as much as a lifetime in the New England state.

A driving under the influence charge, or DUI, is sometimes referred to as a driving while intoxicated, or DWI charge. In Connecticut, as in many other states, the two terms are interchangeable. Also, just as in many other states, a charge of DUI or DWI will trigger two separate cases in Connecticut. One is a criminal case in which the defendant is prosecuted for the illegal DUI behavior. The other is the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles hearing in which the Connecticut DMV seeks to enforce its own punishment against the party accused.

The DMV case usually follows an automatic suspension of the arrestee's driving privileges. Anyone seeking to avoid the automatic suspension of his driving privileges after a Connecticut DUI arrest must request a hearing within seven days. If granted, this hearing will determine whether or not and to what extent the driving privileges of the arrestee are to be restricted or suspended.

A driver arrested in Connecticut on a DUI charge may be prosecuted under two different legal theories: the illegality of driving under the influence and the per se laws. The first theory makes it illegal to operate a car under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or any combination of drugs and alcohol. The state will need to present evidence of erratic driving patters, failure to satisfactorily execute field sobriety tests, or failure to give satisfactory results in a chemical test situation. Any of these is sufficient to prove a DUI in Connecticut and anyone arrested for a DUI will be required to submit to a test of breath or blood in order to establish the chemical test results.

It is the chemical test results that determine whether or not the state will charge an arrestee with a per se violation in addition to the illegal driving violation. If a person is operating a vehicle in Connecticut and he or she has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or greater, he or she will be found per se guilty of a DUI violation. At BAC .08 percent, a per se violation will be found even if a person appears capable of executing field sobriety tests or engaging in other normal conduct.

Any person who refuses to submit to a test of his or her breath or blood will be subject to a minimum of a six-month DMV license suspension. Because of the rigorous nature of the Connecticut DMV policies, it is essential that anyone driving in the state be familiar with DUI policies.

According to Connecticut law, a DUI will remain on a person's record for ten years. As in most other states, the punishments increase in duration and severity for each additional offense. A first time offense carries with it a fine typically between $500 and $1,000, a jail sentence between 48 hours and six months, and a license suspension of up to one year.

A second offense in the same 10-year period carries with it a fine between $1,000 and $4,000, a jail sentence between 120 days and two years, and a license suspension of either three years or until the party reaches 21 years of age - whichever period of time is longer.

At the third infraction, Connecticut becomes even stricter, with a fine between $2,000 and $8,000, a jail sentence between one and three years, and a permanent license revocation. The DMV has its own policies regarding license suspension and revocation and these policies will generally work in concert with the ruling of the court in order to appropriately punish offending individuals.