Driving while under the influence of alcohol is against the law in Connecticut along with all other states. If you are charged for DUI, you will be facing some very harsh consequences if you are convicted. Drunk driving is far more than a traffic citation, it is a criminal charge, which could either be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. If you are convicted, you may be facing heavy fines, jail time, loss of driving privileges, and other penalties.
What Constitutes DUI in Connecticut?
Before we talk about the specific penalties for a drunk driving conviction, it is important to understand what makes you legally drunk in the state of Connecticut. This can happen in one of two ways:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol to the degree that your ability to drive is appreciably affected. This could be determined by a law enforcement officer based on your driving (e.g., weaving in and out of lanes, running red lights, etc.), failing a field sobriety test (FST), slurred speech, and other behaviors.
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that exceeds the maximum allowable under the law. This is referred to as “per se DUI”. For drivers of non-commercial vehicles who are over the age of 21, the legal BAC limit is 0.08. For drivers of commercial vehicles, the legal limit is 0.04, and for drivers under the age of 21, the legal limit is 0.02.
The penalties for a DUI conviction depend largely on how many offenses you have within the past 10 years:
A first-time DUI is punishable with fines of up to $1000, between 48 hours and six months in jail, a 45-day driver’s license suspension, and installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle for one year. In many cases, the jail time can be suspended in exchange for 100 hours of community service.
A second-time DUI is punishable with fines of up to $4000, between 120 days and two years in prison, a 45-day driver’s license suspension, and installation of an IID in your vehicle for three years. Mandatory community service and a mandatory drug and alcohol assessment are also required for individuals who are convicted of a second or subsequent DUI.
A third DUI conviction within 10 years is punishable with fines of up to $8000, one to three years in prison, a permanent driver’s license suspension, mandatory community service, and a mandatory drug and alcohol assessment as well as treatment if it is ordered by the court.
DUI with Aggravated Circumstances
If there are aggravated circumstances, DUI offenders may face enhanced penalties above and beyond what is listed. Here are some possible examples of DUI with aggravated circumstances:
- A DUI accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury;
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher;
- Child endangerment;
- Driving with a suspended or revoked license;
- Fleeing the scene of an accident;
- Fleeing a police officer.
Implied Consent in Connecticut
Connecticut has what is known as “implied consent”. This means that by applying for a driver’s license in the state, you are giving your consent to be chemically tested if law enforcement reasonably suspects that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse the mandatory chemical (breath, blood, or urine) test, you can have your driver’s license automatically suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Potential DUI Defenses
It is important to understand that being arrested for DUI does not necessarily mean you will automatically be convicted. There are possible defenses that could be successful, depending on your case, to have the charges dismissed or, at the very least, obtain a reduction to a lesser charge.
Some potential defenses for DUI include:
- The officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over for drunk driving and/or they did not have probable cause to arrest you;
- Your BAC was under 0.08 at the time you were pulled over, but it had risen to above the legal limit by the time you were tested (this is known as the “rising blood alcohol” defense);
- The field sobriety tests (FSTs) were unreliable or inaccurate;
- Unreliable or inaccurate chemical test results;
- You were not driving the vehicle;
- You only drove the vehicle because of an emergency or legal necessity.
Arrested for DUI in Connecticut? Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Being convicted for drunk driving can incur very harsh consequences. In addition to criminal penalties, you may also find it more difficult to obtain employment, housing, financing, admission to college, and the right to carry a firearm. With so much at stake, you need strong legal counsel in your corner fighting hard to protect your rights and interests.
At the Apex Law Firm, we have extensive experience successfully defending clients who have been charged for DUI and other types of criminal offenses in Connecticut. We are a veteran-owned firm that truly understands the meaning of the word “service”, and we are ready to serve you.
Call our office today at (860) 900-0900 or message us through our online contact form to schedule a discreet and confidential consultation. You may also stop by our Hartford County office in person at your convenience.