Drunk drivers caused 36 percent of all traffic deaths in Connecticut during 2012. Though the 85 deaths reflected a 9.6 percent decrease from the 2011 statistic, Connecticut drunk driving legislation is not among the strictest in the United States. The advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is lobbying to remove loopholes from existing legislation. Drivers should understand both current and anticipated future penalties for DUI.
Connecticut First DUI Conviction Penalties
For drivers age 21 and older, a 0.08 percent or higher blood-alcohol content (BAC) is considered elevated. However, a lower threshold of 0.04 percent BAC applies drivers of commercial motor vehicles. DUI penalties include a mandatory 45-day driver license suspension and subsequent ignition interlock device (IID) installation for one year. Monetary penalties are imposed for illegally driving a vehicle without an IID installed and additional fines for DUI range from $500 to $1,000.
An initial DUI conviction also carries a prison sentence of two days up to six months or probation and 100 hours of community service in exchange for six months of jail time. As a term of probation, the court may require participation in an approved victim impact panel program. This is a non-confrontational environment for DUI offenders and victims to share their experiences regarding the affects of DUI.
Individuals charged with DUI may apply for admission to a yearlong Pretrial Alcohol Education Program. The driver license is suspended during program participation and upon successful completion of the program, the court must dismiss the DUI charges. This program is available only to individuals who have not participated within the past ten years. A court may require participation in an approved victim impact panel program as a condition of application acceptance.
Underage DUI in Connecticut
BAC of 0.02 percent or more is considered elevated for drivers under age 21. Upon arrest, a 16 or 17-year old driver faces removal of the vehicle from the scene and a 48-hour driver license suspension. A parent or legal guardian must appear in person and sign a written acknowledgement to retrieve the vehicle. Drivers under 18 arrested for DUI do not qualify for youthful offender status.
Sixteen and 17 year-old drivers face a one-year license suspension upon initial DUI conviction. Those who refuse to take a BAC test will have their licenses suspended for 18 months. Drivers under age 21 face a license suspension two times the normal length of suspension if they fail to schedule or appear for a hearing or receive an adverse decision.
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Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.