Risking injury or death to themselves or others seems like a common sense reason to hail a cab when you are impaired by alcohol, but people still do it anyway. There are several reasons people do it, but one of the main causes is that alcohol reduces your ability to judge your sobriety. No matter what the reason for driving under the influence, operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol is illegal in Connecticut. Additionally, motorists who are convicted on DUI charges face severe administrative and criminal penalties.

Legal Intoxication Levels

Drivers in Connecticut who are 21 years of age or older are considered legally intoxicated if they get behind the wheel with blood alcohol concentrations of .08% or higher. The legal limit is reduced to .04% or higher for commercial vehicle operators in the Constitution State, and motorists under the age of 21 can be convicted on DUI charges in Connecticut with BACs of .02% or higher.

What is Implied Consent Law?

Drivers in Connecticut are required to provide breath, blood or urine samples for toxicology testing when reasonably asked to do so by a police officer. Refusing to submit to a breath test or provide a blood or urine sample violates the state’s implied consent law and will result in an automatic driver’s license suspension. Prosecutors usually use the results of breath or blood tests to establish that a motorist was intoxicated, but this is not necessary to secure a conviction on DUI charges.

Penalties for Refusing Chemical Testing

Drivers who refuse to take a chemical test, also known as a sobriety test, lose their driving privileges for 45 days and are required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicles for a year. An IID is a device that works much like the breath-testing devices used by police officers and prevents vehicles from starting when alcohol is detected. Drivers who are ordered to install IIDs in their vehicles are expected to cover installation and monitoring costs.

CT License Suspension Laws

A second refusal of a chemical test carries a 45-day driver’s license suspension, and the length of time that an IID must remain in their vehicles is extended to three years. Refusing to take a chemical test for the third time will result in a lifetime driving ban. If the offender successfully petitions to have their driving privileges restored, they will be required to install an IID permanently.

Penalties and Repeat Offenders

There are several factors that can influence drunk driving penalties in Connecticut. Repeat offenders face tougher sentences than individuals convicted on DUI charges for the first time, and drivers who cause accidents that kill or seriously injure other road users while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be charged with more serious crimes such as vehicular manslaughter. Drunk driving penalties are also more severe in Connecticut when DUI offenders had children in their vehicles when they were pulled over or stopped.

Individuals convicted of DUI for the first or second time in Connecticut lose their driving privileges for 45 days. A third drunk driving conviction will result in a permanent driver’s license revocation. However, motorists who have been handed a lifetime ban can apply to have their driving privileges restored after two years.

Fines Can be Steep

The DUI fines in Connecticut increase significantly with each subsequent conviction. Motorists convicted of their first DUI will be ordered to pay a fine of between $500 and $1,000. A second drunk driving conviction will result in a fine of between $1,000 to $4,000, and drivers convicted of DUI for the third time face fines of between $2,000 to $8,000.

Will I Go to Jail?

A first drunk driving conviction in Connecticut carries a maximum custodial sentence of up to 100 days in jail. However, jail sentences are often suspended for first offenders in lieu of community service and probation. A second DUI conviction will result in mandatory jail time. The minimum sentence is 120 days and the maximum sentence is two years. Motorists convicted of drunk driving for the third time in Connecticut face between one and three years behind bars.

A first DUI conviction in Connecticut will not result in mandatory probation and community service, but this is frequently ordered in lieu of jail time. The penalties for subsequent DUI convictions will include probation and 100 hours of community service in addition to mandatory jail time.

How Long Must I Use a Vehicle IID?

The length of time that a DUI offender must fit an ignition interlock device (IID) to their vehicle is one year for a first offense and three years for a second offense. When individuals successfully petition to have their driving privileges restored after being handed a lifetime ban for a third DUI, they are required to equip their vehicles with an IID for at least 15 years.

Court-Ordered Treatment Programs

Individuals convicted on DUI charges in Connecticut are required to participate in substance abuse treatment programs that have been approved by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This usually involves attending sessions once a week for between 10 and 15 weeks.

What are Victim Impact Panels?

Connecticut law does not specifically state that an individual convicted of DUI must attend a victim impact panel, but this is frequently ordered in drunk driving cases. Victim impact panels are sessions where individuals who have been catastrophically injured by drunk drivers or the parents of children killed in drunk driving accidents speak about how their lives have been affected.

Reducing DUI Penalties in CT

While DUI penalties in Connecticut can be severe, an experienced criminal defense attorney can argue that they should be reduced when DUI defendants are genuinely remorseful and willing to take responsibility for their actions. Attorneys may also remind prosecutors that trials are expensive and toxicology evidence is not infallible.

Waterbury, CT DUI Attorneys: The Moynahan Law Firm

If you are in the Waterbury, CT area and face charges stemming from driving under the influence (DUI), vehicular manslaughter, or other alcohol-related driving offenses, you can contact expert attorney Timothy C. Moynahan at the Moynahan Law Firm for a free case evaluation. For immediate assistance, call us at (203) 597-6364. Alternatively, you can contact us online.