Connecticut DUI Penalties and Sentencing
Connecticut has been ranked as one of the states with the most strict DUI laws. Connecticut has the second most severe jail sentences in the nation for DUI convictions. If you have been arrested for DUI in CT, you could face the possibility of severe consequences in the form of fines, license suspensions, the requirement to install an interlock device in your vehicle, and the possibility of having to serve a jail sentence.
A DUI arrest is only an allegation, and everyone is presumed innocent unless they plead guilty or are convicted at trial. Many first-time offenders in Connecticut may be eligible for the alcohol education program, which can lead to a dismissal of the charges.Am I facing Jail Time for a First-Time Connecticut DUI Charge?
In most situations, first-time DUI offenders with no prior convictions are highly unlikely ever to face any jail time for a DUI in Connecticut. However, if aggravating circumstances exist, it is possible that a first-time offender could face the possibility of jail upon a conviction for DUI.
Some of the aggravating factors that make 1st time DUI cases more serious in CT include:
- Cases involving accidents were other people were injured
- Having a very high blood alcohol content level
- Cases where the accused is charged with evading responsibility
- Cases, where the accused had a prior DUI beyond the 10-year look back period
- Cases where the accused is charged with assaulting or interfering with a police office
Most first-time DUI offenders in CT utilize the pretrial alcohol education program (AE program) C.G.S.§ 54-56g to resolve their criminal court charges. The AP program is a diversionary program that results in a dismissal of the criminal charges against you if you complete the program, which consists of alcohol classes or treatment. You can't apply for the AE program if you have a prior conviction for DUI, have previously used the AE program in the last ten years, if you have a CDL, or were driving a commercial vehicle or were involved in an accident that caused a serious physical injury.
Since the alcohol education program results in a dismissal of the criminal charges against you, most first-time offenders don't have to worry about the possibility of facing any jail time. Since the AE program can avoid a misdemeanor conviction for DUI it is essential to work with an experienced Connecticut DUI lawyer to prepare the best possible presentation for your application in court.How Long Will My Driver's License be Suspended for a First-Time DUI?
Everyone who is arrested for a DUI who either fails or refuses a chemical test will have their license taken for a period of 24 hours by the arresting police agency. After the expiration of 24 hours, you have to return to the police station to retrieve your physical driver's license.
Regardless of what happens with your criminal case and whether you get the alcohol education program, if you failed a chemical test or refused a chemical test, you will face an administrative per se license suspension from the Connecticut DMV.
Connecticut went to an all offender interlock program a few years ago and now heavily relies on interlock devices. Everyone who fails a chemical test for alcohol or drugs or refuses to submit to a test is subject to a 45-day license suspension.
The only difference is the length of time that you have to install an interlock device in your vehicle:
- Over the age of 21 - Failed chemical test - 6-month interlock requirement
- Under the age of 21 - Failed chemical test - one-year interlock requirement
- Refusal of a chemical test -one-year interlock requirement
You only have 7 days in which to request an appeal of the administrative per se suspension of your license. You should speak to a Connecticut DUI attorney as soon as you are arrested to see if there are valid grounds upon which to appeal the suspension of your license. Connecticut does provide the option to apply for a special-operators permit to go back and forth to work or school if you loose your DMV appeal. You should contact a DUI attorney to discuss all your options.How Much Jail Time Could I Face for a First-Time DUI?
Although many first time DUI offenders in CT use the alcohol education program, many people charged with DUI are either not eligible for the program, have the program denied by the court, or have previously used the program and therefore can not use it again. For these clients, they will have to either take their case to trial and win or accept a plea bargain. Just because you are charged with a DUI, does not mean you are guilty or that you will be convicted. You should retain the services of an experienced Connecticut DUI attorney to carefully review all of the facts of the police investigation and determine if there are ay weakness in the state's case against you.
The maximum sentence you could face as a first-time DUI offender per C.G.S. § 14-227a is:
- Up to 6 Months in Jail with two days mandatory minimum or 100 hours of community service
- A fine of up to $500 plus fees and costs
- Up to 18 months of probation
- A 45-day license suspension and an ignition interlock device for one year
In Connecticut, state's attorneys are restricted by statute from charge reduction plea bargaining in DUI cases. This means they can't offer to drop the charge of DUI and let you plead guilty to speeding or reckless driving, for example, as is commonly done in other states such as California. In Connecticut, prosecutors can only drop the case if they state on the record the reason why they feel they are unable to prove the allegations at trial.
In practice, most state's attorneys will offer sentence reduction plea offers for a first-time DUI offender in CT. The "standard fist offender offer" in Connecticut involves a fully suspended 6-month jail sentence, a fine of $500 plus fees and costs, 100 hours of community service, and 18 months of probation. In most cases you can get the standard first offender offer without having to serve any jail time unless your case involves some of the aggravating factors listed above or if you had a previous conviction for DUI that is more than ten years old and out of the "lookback period."Second Offense DUI Penalties in Connecticut
The penalty for a second conviction for a DUI in Connecticut is more severe than a first time DUI and is a felony-level offense.
A conviction for a second DUI would require you to serve mandatory minimum jail time. However, only convictions within the last ten years can qualify as a prior offense during our ten-year "look back period." With the assistance of an experienced Connecticut DUI attorney, it is possible to serve some of your mandatory minimum jail time on home arrest in the DUI home confinement program C.G.S. § 18-100h. We are very proud that since the institution of the DUI home confinement program, every one of our clients who has been sentenced for a second time DUI offender program has been released early into home confinement. (*Past performance does not guarantee future results).
The maximum sentence you could face as a second-time DUI offender is:
- Two years in jail - 120 days mandatory minimum
- A fine of $1,000 to $4,000 plus fees and costs
- 45-day license suspension and three years of installation of an interlock device
- Up to 2 years of probation
- An alcohol or drug abuse treatment program
- 100 hours of community service
If you have been charged with operation under the influence of DUI, you should speak with a Connecticut DUI lawyer as soon as possible to go over the details of your arrest. With 28 years of experience in defense of DUI allegation in Fairfield County and throughout Connecticut, Attorney Allan F. Friedman can give you sound legal advice. Was your arrest lawful? Have your constitutional rights been violated? Our objective is to use every means possible to have the charges dismissed or thrown out, or significantly reduce the charges.
We work on a reasonable flat fee basis. Call Attorney Friedman at (203) 357-5555 to schedule your free initial consultation and case evaluation - we are available 24/7 - 365 days a year. Or you can contact us online for a prompt response.