Over one million people are apprehended each year in the US for driving under the influence (DUI). It is quite acceptable to have a few drinks, but operating a vehicle with high blood alcohol content (BAC) risks not only your life and well-being but also that of others on the road.
Estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that one-third of first time DUI offenders repeat the same crime in the future. It is not surprising to see this statistic as alcohol often reduces inhibitions and impairs judgment. However, a more serious felony DUI charge awaits those who repeat the same misdemeanor.
Difference between a Misdemeanor and a Felony
The seriousness of the crime is used to rate offenses. In general, a DUI would be classified as a misdemeanor. But, in many states, there is a limit on the number of times a person is convicted for a DUI before the charge converts to a felony.
In comparison to felonies, misdemeanors are considered less grave. Felony offenders typically receive stricter punishments. Misdemeanor charges usually have imprisonment of up to a year while a felony offense may warrant jail time of more than one year.
DUI Charges in Connecticut: Misdemeanor or Felony?
Offenses such as DUI are criminal in nature. A first time DUI conviction is seen as an unclassified misdemeanor. In case of a second DUI offense and subsequent repetitions, it is considered as unclassified felonies or aggravated DUI.
According to Connecticut law, DUI turns into a felony when a person faces a second DUI charge within ten years of a previous conviction for the same offense. People who get a second DUI conviction are considered to be convicted felons.
In Connecticut, felony DUI (aggravated DUI) penalties include the following:
- Up to two years of imprisonment with mandatory jail time of 120 days
- A fine ranging from $1,000 to $4,000
- Probation with up to 100 hours of community service
- License suspension for 45 days
- Installation of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for three years
A DUI is a felony if a drunk motorist is responsible for causing severe physical harm (assault with a motor vehicle) or death (manslaughter with a motor vehicle) of another individual, even if the intoxicated driver does not have any prior DUI convictions.
A charge of aggravated drunk driving can result from specific aggravating circumstances surrounding the accident that led to the indictment. A first DUI charge is usually considered a misdemeanor under the DUI laws of many states. However, aggravated drunk driving is a felony charge, and this necessarily warrants more stringent punishments for motorists convicted of an aggravated DUI.
Aggravated Drunk Driving Charges: Consideration of Circumstances and Factors
- A significantly high blood alcohol level (BAC)
- Operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or above with a minor child in the automobile
- Operating a vehicle while simultaneously using drugs and alcohol
- Operating a school bus while drunk
- Driving within a school zone while intoxicated
- Causing serious injury or fatality
If a person is pulled over for drunk driving, they may face aggravated drunk driving charges if they:
- Are caught behind the wheel without a valid driver’s license
- Cause another individual to sustain serious injuries or die, or extensive damage to property due to the accident
- Have numerous prior DUI convictions, especially within a specific timeframe
In comparison to a regular DUI charge, often considered a misdemeanor, an aggravated drunk driving conviction can lead to significantly more serious penalties. Most drivers accused of aggravated drunk driving face felony charges. This tarnishes an individual’s clean reputation and places a permanent mark on their criminal record, potentially disqualifying them for certain jobs, among other detriments.
- Long probation terms
- Community service
- Revocation or suspension of driving license
- Compulsory ignition interlock device installation
- Heavy fines
- Confiscation of vehicle
Are aggravated DUI conviction penalties harsher than those for a regular DUI conviction?
In general, yes. The penalties associated with an aggravated DUI conviction often include more substantial fines, more extended periods of driver’s license suspension, a higher possibility of substance abuse assessment and/or treatment, and mandatory minimum incarceration.
If my offense involved a minor, will I be charged with aggravated DUI?
A person might be charged with an aggravated DUI if they had a minor child in the vehicle with them at the time of their offense, if their actions led to serious bodily harm to a minor child, if they were driving while drunk in a school zone, or if they were operating a school bus while under the influence of alcohol.
Schedule a Consultation with a Skilled DUI Lawyer in CT
If you face a DUI charge in Connecticut, you must act fast to preserve your driving privileges and other freedoms. In Connecticut, the law allows a mere seven days for an attorney representing a client charged with a DUI to request the Connecticut DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) for a hearing to help prevent their license from being revoked.
During this time as the COVID-19 crisis is upon us, there is limited access to the Connecticut courts. However, APEX Law Firm, LLC is still here to provide the experienced representation our clients need and deserve. Much of our work is being done remotely in accordance with social distancing guidelines, but our firm remains open and ready to serve your legal needs.
Message us online or contact our office today at (860) 900-0900 for free consultation with one of our experienced DUI attorneys.