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DUI/DWI Information for Connecticut

Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offence committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver's blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.

In Connecticut, as in the rest of the US, drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities and accounts for an alarmingly high 40% to 50% of the total number of motor vehicle related deaths every year.

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REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN CONNECTICUT

In Connecticut, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% for drivers over 21 years of age and it is set at 0.02% for those under 21. For commercial drivers, the limit is set at 0.04%.

Having a Connecticut license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of "implied consent" and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyser test or by an actual blood test to check the BAC. Refusing to take the chemical test will result in your license being revoked for at least six months.

Points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended or revoked, if you convicted of DUI/DWI. The number of points assessed, depend on the severity of the offense and the number of times you have been convicted for it. Persistent offenders are likely to be imposed with enhanced penalties. DUI/DWI and or drugs are a criminal offense in Connecticut and you can be prosecuted without or with any direct evidence of your BAC. The determining factor is if your ability to drive is impaired. The law is applicable when driving on a road or highway and also on own driveway or other property.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:

If you are over 21 years old, and are caught with BAC higher than the set limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/DWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/DWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice.

  1. The first offense may result in imprisonment for up to 6 months (minimum two days) and/or up to a $1000 fine. Also, if convicted for a first offense BAC or DWI (BAC over 0.08%) or for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID):
    • 3 points will be added to your driving record.
    • Your license will be suspended for one year months
    • You need to perform 100 hours of community service in lieu of the imprisonment.
    • You may be eligible to drive using the Work Only Driver's Permit, after 90 days of suspension, and then become eligible to reinstate your license, if you meet the reinstatement requirements.
  2. The second offense or two offenses in ten years ("persistent offender") may result in imprisonment for up to two years (mandatory at least up to 120 continuous days) and/or up to a $4000 fine. Also, if convicted for the second offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
    • 3 points will be added to your driving record.
    • Your license will be revoked for three years.
    • You need to perform mandatory community service for 100 hours in lieu of the imprisonment.
  3. The third offense or three offenses in ten years may result in imprisonment for up to three years (mandatory at least one year) and/or up to an $8000 fine. Also, if convicted for the third offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
  4. 3 points will be added to your driving record.
  5. You need to perform mandatory community service for 100 hours in lieu of the imprisonment.
  6. Your license will be permanently revoked.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21

  1. 3 points will be added to your driving record and your license suspended or revoked, if you are convicted under the "minor in possession/other alcohol offenses" law(trying to purchase, possessing or having purchased any intoxicant; or being intoxicated using alcohol, drugs or other intoxicants; or having a BAC higher than 0.02%) while driving.
  2. The license may be suspended or revoked for one year after the first conviction, for three years after the second conviction or up to 21st birthday which ever is later and permanently following the third conviction.
  3. Minors convicted of possessing alcohol on highways or streets will have their license suspended for 60 days and for 30 days for possessing alcohol on private property or in a public places besides highways or public streets.
  4. A 16 or 17 year old caught driving under influence of alcohol will have his administrative license immediately seized by a police officer and suspended for 48 hours and/or his /her vehicle can be removed from the scene. The license can be suspended for at least one year or up to 18th birthday whichever is later if BAC is 0.02% or more. If he/she refuses to be tested the suspension will be for 18 months.
  5. You are not eligible to participate in an Ignition Interlock Device program.
  6. Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to minors if they are convicted of DUI/DWI.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS

If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
  1. 3 points will be added to your driving record and you will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for a year, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04%. You will also be issued an "out-of-service" order valid for 24 hours by the arresting officer if BAC is less than 0.04% but there is a detectable amount. Refusing to submit to a test will lead to operator's license and CDL being suspended for at least six months.
  2. You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for at least three years, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04% while transporting hazardous materials.
  3. You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for life if you are convicted for any of these offenses for the second time.
  4. Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to commercial drivers for their first and second offenses of DUI/DWI. The other penalties do not apply since they are barred after the second offense.

ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:

Connecticut laws have administrative implications in addition to the criminal laws against DUI/DWI. An officer may arrest a driver if:
  • He/she is aged 21 and above and is driving with BAC 0.08% or more.
  • He/she is aged below 21 and is driving with BAC 0.02% or more.
Under this law, if you are arrested for DUI/DWI, the arresting officer will revoke your Connecticut driver license for 24 hours, complete a notice of license suspension/revocation based on the nature of the offense along with warrant, if applicable; and send the entire set to the Administrative Per Se Unit of the Department of Motor Vehicles within three working days. The driver can schedule an administrative hearing within seven days of the notice of suspension/revocation. It is a good idea to consult a DUI/DWI lawyer beforehand. If the hearing goes against the driver, his license will be suspended or revoked based on his previous ten-year driving record. The different administrative actions are listed here. You may be eligible to drive using the Work Only Driver's Permit, after 90 days of suspension. The suspension or revocation after the final order of the hearing officer is mailed from the Administrative Per Se Unit of the Department of Motor Vehicles. If the driver, however, does not request a hearing, then the suspension/revocation begins after the arrest, and is final.

LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:

If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the Department of Revenue, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Reinstating a license after a suspension of a year, or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
  1. To complete the reinstatement requirements, you must prove that you have successfully completed the DMV Substance Abuse Treatment Program or a comparable program (the agency will send the proof to the Driver License Bureau once you have completed the program), pay the reinstatement fee of $125, and maintain proof of financial responsibility from the date of suspension/revocation by filing SR-22, if you are over 21 years old. Some eligible offenders can have their DUI charges dismissed if they undergo a Pre-Trial Alcohol Education Program which involves a $50 application fee and a $100 non-refundable evaluation fee and also make certain promises under oath to the court.
  2. If you are being convicted for a second time, it is mandatory for the court to order an ignition interlock device to be placed for breathalyser tests on any vehicle you drive.
  3. You can submit the reinstatement application and fees at a DMV office near you. You can also mail the application two weeks before the eligibility date to:
    Department of Motor Vehicles
    Driver Services Division
    60 State Street
    Wethersfield, CT  06161-2525    
  4. Six years after license revocation of the third DUI/DWI offense, you can seek for your driving privileges to be restored subject to certain conditions. You can submit a written request for hearing to the Administrative Per Se Unit of the Department of Motor Vehicles at:
    Department of Motor Vehicles
    Driver Services Division
    60 State Street
    Wethersfield, CT 06161-2525    

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • DUI/DWI has been a major cause of death and injury in our nation and it is our duty to prevent such needless pain and suffering. Simply: If you drink, DON'T DRIVE! If we all follow this rule to the letter - thousands of lives will be saved each year.
  • If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI get help from a DUI/DWI Lawyer.
  • See also Suspended License, Point System and Traffic Ticket Lawyers.
  • If the court establishes a manslaughter crime in the second degree when in a motor vehicle when DUI/DWI it can lead to imprisonment of up to 10 years and/or a $10,000 fine. In case of serious physical injury, the punishment is imprisonment of up to five years and/or a $5,000 fine.
  • It is against the law to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle when it is on a Connecticut highway or a highway right-of-way.
  • Operating a vehicle during revocation or suspension period of the license also can result in imprisonment of up to one year (mandatory 30 days) and/or a $1,000 fine.
  • Even after license is restored the vehicle has to be operated for 24 months with an approved Ignition Interlock Device installed. You can mail the reinstatement application along with check or money order made payable to DMV at least two weeks before eligibility date to:
    State of Connecticut
    Department of Motor Vehicles
    Ignition Interlock Device Unit
    55 West Main Street
    Waterbury, CT 06702    
 

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