Connecticut DUI/DWI Laws & Penalties

In CT, it's a criminal offense to drive if you're under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you're arrested for a DWI or DUI in Connecticut, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately for legal advice. However, here is an overview of what you can expect if you're facing a DWI or DUI in CT.

Connecticut DUI Penalties

If you're charged with a DWI or DUI in CT, you're facing two separate issues – a license suspension, and a criminal case.

License Suspension

If you're arrested for a DUI in CT, your license may be suspended immediately – especially if you fail the breath test or refuse to take one. You may also have a DMV hearing, which is different from the criminal case. 

Criminal Case 

Under Connecticut DUI law, the criminal courts can impose a range of penalties if you're found guilty of a DUI/DWI. CT DUI penalties include fines, license suspension, community service, alcohol treatment programs, and jail time depending on the severity of the offense.

Any CT DUI or related charge can dramatically impact your life, even if you aren't at serious risk of jail time. For most people, it's a real hardship to lose their driver's license. You may find it difficult to travel or even find employment. Penalties such as fines and probation can also be challenging to deal with.

If you or a loved one faces charges for allegedly breaking CT DUI laws, you need urgent legal advice. For an immediate phone consultation on any CT DUI charge, please call me immediately. I answer my own phone, and I can talk to you right away.

License Suspension and DUI Laws in CT

Immediately after you are arrested on a drunk driving / DUI charge in Connecticut, you are subject to a license suspension based on a failure of the breathalyzer, or refusal to take the test. The license suspension is an administrative penalty issued by the Connecticut DMV.

CT DUI Penalties for Refusing to Submit to a Breathalyzer Test

If you refuse to take a breath test, the license suspension is longer than if you had failed with a very high BAC level.

Refusal penalties are in addition to any license suspension penalties as a result of being found guilty or convicted of the CT DUI/DWI charge.

CT DUI Laws and Minors – Under 21 Breathalyzer Failure Penalties

The penalties for failing a breath test if you are under 21 (the legal drinking age) result from a BAC reading of 0.02 or higher. The penalties are:

  • For a first offense, your license will be suspended for 90 days.
  • For a second offense, your license will be suspended for 9 months.
  • For a third offense, your license will be suspended for 2 years.

Connecticut DUI Penalties

First Offense DUI:

  • Jail for 6 months. Either 48 hours mandatory minimum must be served, or a suspended sentence with 100 hours of community service
  • Fines of $500-1000
  • Driver's license suspended for 1 year.

Second Offense DUI:

A drunk driving charge is considered a second offense if you have a previous conviction within 10 years.

  • 2 years in jail. 120 days mandatory minimum must be served, along with 100 hours of community service
  • Fines of $1,000-$4,000
  • Driver's license suspended for 3 years (or until age 21, whichever is longer)

Third Offense DUI:

A drunk driving charge is considered a third offense if you have at least one previous conviction within 10 years (of the two convictions).

  • 3 years in Jail. 1 year mandatory minimum must be served, along with 100 hours of community service
  • Fines of $1,000-$4,000
  • Driver's license suspended permanently (revoked).

DUI Laws in CT | What to Do If You've Been Accused of Drunk Driving in Connecticut

If you are pulled over or questioned following an accident and accused by a police officer of driving under the influence, the first thing to remember is to remain calm. Don't attempt to argue with the police or get angry.

If they ask you for your driver's license and vehicle registration, comply with the request. Follow all the officers' requests in a calm, respectful manner. The officers are observing you for signs of intoxication, such as the smell of alcohol or marijuana, slurred speech, or unsteady movements.

You can refuse to answer a police officer's questions about where you are driving from or whether you've been drinking. If the officers ask you to perform field sobriety tests or blow into a Breathalyzer, you may also refuse to do so. If you choose not to answer questions or perform tests, always remain respectful and courteous toward the officers.

If you fail field sobriety or breathalyzer tests or refuse to take them, you will likely be arrested on suspicion of DUI. Officers may continue to question you after they put you under arrest. Politely decline to answer any questions and request to speak with an attorney. Make sure you speak your request loudly enough so that it is recorded by any recording devices.

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Your Rights If You're Arrested for a DUI in Connecticut

If you are arrested for DUI, always remember your Miranda rights. If you are arrested, the officers will read your Miranda rights to you and ask you if you understand them.

First, you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions asked of you. It is critical that you do not answer any questions about where you've been, since any statements you give may be used against you in a later trial.

Second, you have the right to an attorney and to speak with an attorney before being questioned. If you ask the police to speak to an attorney, they must stop questioning you until you've had an opportunity to speak with a lawyer. However, if you start a conversation with the police about your arrest while waiting to speak to an attorney, the police may resume questioning you.

You have the right to refuse to participate in field sobriety tests. You also have the right to refuse to take a Breathalyzer test, or to submit to blood alcohol testing. You should speak with an attorney before deciding whether to take the test, since doing so may make you eligible for favorable disposition of your case. However, if you refuse the test, your driver's license may still be suspended even if you are ultimately not convicted of DUI.

What to Expect If You've Been Arrested for a DUI in Connecticut

When you are arrested on a DUI charge, you will be transported to the police station, searched upon your arrival, photographed, fingerprinted, and placed in a holding cell. After you are processed, the police may continue questioning you or ask you to submit to a breath, urine, or blood alcohol test after reading you the implied consent advisory. The police will also give you the opportunity to call a lawyer, especially if you request to speak with one.

Eventually, the police will release you from the police station after your bail is paid or on a promise that you will appear for your assigned court date. Your driver's license will also be suspended for a 24-hour period following your arrest so that if you are intoxicated you can sober up before driving again.

Once you've retained me to represent you, I'll begin investigating your case, reviewing your performance and results on field sobriety and blood alcohol tests, the qualifications of the arresting officer and test administrators, and the reliability of the police's testing equipment. At your pretrial conference, I'll negotiate for a disposition of your case that avoids jail time.

If I can't obtain a satisfactory disposition of your case, I'll obtain discovery from the state and move to exclude certain evidence against you. If I can't reach a favorable plea agreement for you, your case may go to trial. I will fight to make the state prove every element of your charges beyond a reasonable doubt and hopefully obtain a not guilty verdict.

For more information on your options for your defense, call me for a free legal consultation from a Connecticut DUI attorney. There's no obligation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Connecticut Drunk Driving/DWI/DUI Law and Charges

What is the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol in Connecticut?

The legal limit under Connecticut DUI law is .08 BAC (blood alcohol content). Connecticut laws establish that to Operate While Under the Influence (OWI) with a BAC of .08 or higher is “per se” against the law. Simply driving while your blood has over .08% alcohol is illegal. The state doesn't need to prove that you were impaired or driving unsafely. The number is sufficient to find you guilty of a DUI charge. See my DUI laws & penalties page for more info.

Does Connecticut have additional penalties for DUI/DWI charges with a high BAC result?

Yes. A high BAC of .16 or above, or twice the legal limit of .08 will result in stricter penalties for refusing to take a breath test/breathalyzer, or other chemical BAC analysis. See my DUI penalties page for details.

What are the laws for a DUI in Connecticut if you are under 21 years of age?

If you are under 21, Connecticut has what is called a zero tolerance policy for driving after drinking alcohol. The legal limit for alcohol is .02 BAC, which can be as little as 1 drink. If you are charged with a DUI, your license will be immediately suspended for 90 days for a first offense.

Can I get a Work License or Hardship License While My Driver's License is Under Suspension?

Yes, the Connecticut DMV will issue you a work permit in most cases. It allows you to drive to and from work during a specified 12 hour period. See my work license page.

Will I have to get an interlock device that I have to blow into to start my car?

Probably. Connecticut just passed an interlock bill requiring one of these devices for all 1st time convictions.

Are you facing charges for a DUI in CT? Any penalties may have serious consequences, so it's crucial you contact an experienced CT DUI attorney for help immediately. Contact Erin Field – CT DUI attorney now! Call me today at (860) 749-8313!