Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Connecticut

Two Connecticut statutes deal with defining DUI, implied and administrative per se action. CGS 14-227a prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and have an elevated blood alcohol content. If a driver’s ability to drive is affected, then that person is said to be under the influence.

A driver gives their implied consent to be tested for alcohol or drugs when they drive, according to Connecticut statute CGS 14-227b,. Administrative per se license suspension procedures have been established for those who have an elevated BAC or who refuse to a breath test.

What Are the Minimum BAC Levels To Be Charged With DUI in Connecticut?

There are different factors that can affect the minimum BAC level needed to be charged with drunk driving in Connecticut. For example, for drivers over the age of 21, the minimum BAC to be charged with a DUI is .08 percent. However, if someone over the age of 21 has a commercial driver’s license, the minimum BAC level to be charged with a DUI is .04 percent. For drivers who are under the age of 21, the minimum BAC to be charged with a DUI is .02 percent.

What Are the Penalties for a First-Time Conviction of Drunk Driving?

The penalties for a conviction of DUI in Connecticut are less severe than the penalties for subsequent convictions; however, that does not mean that someone facing this charge for the first time should take it any less seriously.

Here are the penalties for a first-time conviction for DUI in Connecticut:

  • Up to six months in jail suspended, with probation and 100 hours community service -– or –-
  • Up to six months in jail with a minimum of two days in jail
  • Fines of between $500 and $1,000
  • 45 days of a suspended driver’s license. In addition, the defendant will be required to use an ignition interlock device for one year.

What Are the Penalties for Subsequent Convictions of DUI?

The penalties for a second conviction of DUI are more severe and include:

  • Up to two years in jail, with 120 consecutive days as mandatory minimum
  • Probation and 100 hours of community service
  • Alcohol or drug assessment
  • Alcohol or drug treatment program
  • Fines of between $1,000 and $4,000
  • 45 days of a suspended driver’s license
  • The use of an ignition interlock is required for three years after the suspension period. During the first year of the three-year period, he or she may only drive to and from school, work, a drug or alcohol abuse treatment program, or an ignition interlock service center.

For a third or subsequent conviction of DUI, the penalties are:

  • Between one and three years in jail, with one year mandatory
  • Probation and 100 hours of community service
  • Alcohol or drug abuse assessment
  • Alcohol or drug treatment program
  • Driving privileges are revoked. After two years, however, driving privileges may be reinstated, but only if driving a vehicle with an ignition interlock. That requirement may be lifted after 15 years by the commissioner.

Other Possible Penalties

Connecticut law allows for the courts to impose other penalties. Some of these penalties might include:

  • Participation in a victim impact panel program
  • Alcohol and drug treatment program

A defendant is deemed to be a persistent DUI offender if he or she has a conviction for second-degree manslaughter or second-degree assault with a motor vehicle and has been convicted of either of those offenses, DUI or similar offense in another state or states in the past 10 years.

Pretrial Alcohol Education Program

When someone is charged with his or her first DUI in Connecticut, he or she may apply to the court to participate in the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program. The application is $100 and the evaluation fee is $100, which is nonrefundable. The defendant must also tell the court if he or she had been in the program in the last 10 years. Once the defendant is deemed eligible for the program, he or she will be placed in a state-licensed substance abuse treatment program or an alcohol intervention program.

Upon successful completion of the program, the defendant may ask the court to dismiss the charges. The defendant’s driver’s license suspension will remain in effect. This program is not available to those who have been in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in serious physical injury or if the defendant was operating a commercial vehicle.