What is an OUI in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, motorists are prohibited from driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with a high blood alcohol content (BAC). A person is considered to be under the influence if their ability to drive is impaired to an appreciable degree following the ingestion of inebriating substances.
In Connecticut, the maximum BAC for motorists is prescribed in the state's driving statutes. Per state law, drivers above the legal drinking age should have a BAC below .08%. On the other hand, commercial drivers are considered to have an elevated BAC if it is .04% or more.
Similarly, CGS § 14-227g prescribes the ideal BAC for persons under 21 to be .02% or less. The state's driving law is deemed operational within state limits, including public highways, roads, private roads (where a speed limit is established), parking areas, and school property.
Connecticut courts enforce OUI laws in Connecticut and prosecute erring offenders. The courts issue penalties and maintain records of OUI proceedings and similar Connecticut criminal records. The state operates a Pre-trial Alcohol Education Program where eligible OUI offenders may avoid prosecution by undergoing rehabilitation or completing an alcohol or drug education or treatment course. After completing the program, the offender's court file may be restricted, and the charges against them dismissed - provided they meet the state's eligibility requirements.
What is the Difference Between an OUI and an OWI in Connecticut?
Most U.S states use the terms OUI and OWI interchangeably to describe drunk driving offenses. Both terms apply to one type of criminal offense: driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. In Connecticut, OUI is the preferred term for drunk driving offenses. It is an acronym for "Operating Under the Influence". On the other hand, the term OWI means "Operating While Intoxicated". Connecticut uses the term OUI to refer to the offense of operating a vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08. However, motorists under 21 who are found operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.02 or higher are also con
Connecticut OUI Laws
Section CT Gen Stat § 14-227 of the 2019 Connecticut General Statutes outlines Connecticut's drunk driving laws. The following are laws and restrictions connected to DWI regulations:
- According to § 14-227(a), motorists who operate a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or greater are deemed guilty of a misdemeanor in the state of Connecticut.
- Per § 14-227(g), it is against state statutes for persons under 21 to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or greater.
- Pursuant to CGS § 14-227b, Connecticut operates an "implied consent" law. Thus, motorists driving within state limits have inadvertently consented to OUI testing.
Where a motorist refuses a breath or chemical test, the arresting officer may revoke the offender's driver's license for at least 24 hours and submit the evidence against the driver and the report to the Connecticut DMV.
Furthermore, the police may impound the offender's vehicle for 48 hours, and to reclaim the car, the owner must cover the cost for towing and storage (CGS § 14-227h).
OUI Penalties in Connecticut
According to Connecticut's criminal law, a driver arrested for OUI will receive both a summons and a court date. In Connecticut, drivers who refuse to submit to chemical testing under the Implied Consent Law are penalized severely. There is a difference between the criminal charges an OUI driver will face in court and the penalties imposed by the DMV after an Administrative Per Se hearing. If an offender is charged with an OUI, the Connecticut DMV will receive the arrest report and issue a 45-day driver's license suspension. Additional penalties will follow upon conviction in court.
Following their apprehension, the offender will receive a traffic ticket containing the offender's court date, and the vehicle will be towed at the offender's expense. If the motorist is found to have a BAC of .08 or higher, they will be detained until bail.
Consequently, the following penalties may be imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles:
- Prison Time: Offenders face up to six months of prison as well as up to 100 hours of community service.
- Fine: Offenders are typically fined between $500 to $1,000
- License Suspension: The license of OUI offenders may be suspended for up to 45 days
What Happens When You Get an OUI in Connecticut?
After an OUI arrest in Connecticut, an arrest report is sent to the DMV along with a notice of suspension immediately sent to the offender's mail. The OUI offender will be allowed seven days to respond to the allegation and request a hearing.
To request a hearing, the offender may call the Administrative Per Se Unit before the deadline indicated on the notice.
Typically, license suspensions begin 30 days after the arrest occurred, and the suspension is often considered independent of any other penalties or requirements imposed on the offender following a court hearing.
What Happens When You Get an OUI for the First Time in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, a first OUI offense arises when defaulting motorists are charged with OUI for the first time in their recorded history or for the first time in 10 years.
In Connecticut, a first offense OUI charge means that the driver's blood alcohol concentration was .08% or greater and has had no prior OUI convictions in the preceding 10-year period. A first-offense OUI charge is considered a misdemeanor charge and carries the following penalties:
- Jail time:
Offending motorists face a jail sentence of between 2 days to six months. Their licenses may also be subject to a six-month suspension, and they may be issued mandatory probation along with community service.
Offenders may be fined between $500 and $1,000; the final amount will be determined based on the severity of the offense,
and the offender's criminal history.
- Test Refusal:
Offenders who refuse a breath or chemical test will likely have their licenses suspended for six months.
If an offender is sentenced to probation, the court may insist that the offender participates in a victim impact panel program or similar program approved by the Connecticut Court Support Services Division. However, the individual will likely be required to pay a fee to attend the program.
- Ignition interlock:
Most repeat offenders will be required to install an ignition interlock as a condition for the reinstatement of their license.
- License suspension:
The offender's driver's license will likely be suspended for at least 45 days. They may also be required to file a Connecticut SR22 insurance form with the DMV before their license is reinstated.
What is the Penalty for a Second OUI in Connecticut?
Motorists charged with a second OUI In Connecticut have at least one prior OUI conviction within ten years of a first conviction.
A second OUI offense is a misdemeanor charge, and second-time OUI offenders in Connecticut face the following penalties:
- Jail time:
In Connecticut, second-time offenders risk between 120 consecutive days to 2-years in jail. Offenders may also be required to complete up to 100 days of community service and serve a probationary sentence.
Second-time OUI offenders in Connecticut are fined between $1,000 to $4,000, depending on the nature and severity of the offense.
- Ignition interlock:
Following a second OUI charge, offenders may have an ignition interlock installed in their vehicle for at least three years.
- License suspension:
After a second OUI charge, the motorist may have their license suspended for 45 days. The license may be reinstated after the suspension if the driver agrees to at least three years of IID driving. The offender may also be required to file a Connecticut SR22 insurance form with the DMV beforehand.
A judge can set many terms for probation, including additional fees of $200. The penalties increase if the offender is convicted of a second or third OUI. Second-time offenders may face mandatory counseling or extra time behind bars.
What Happens After a Third OUI in Connecticut?
A third or subsequent offense OUI charge in Connecticut means that the driver has more than one prior OUI conviction in the space of 10-years. Offenders in this category are likely to face the following penalties:
- Jail time:
A third or subsequent OUI offense may be penalized with 1 to 3 years in jail in Connecticut. Offenders in this category also face the risk of two-year probation and up to 100 hours of community service.
A third or subsequent OUI in Connecticut may be penalized with a fine of between $2,000 to $8,000, depending on the severity of the offense and the court's discretion.
- Ignition interlock:
Third-time OUI offenders in Connecticut may need to have an ignition interlock installed for three years.
- License revocation:
Following a third OUI offense in Connecticut, the offender's license will be revoked permanently.
After two years of the revocation, the offender may be eligible for reinstatement. However, they will have to petition the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and the department may opt to grant or decline the petition.
In addition to the license revocation, the offender may also be penalized may face a 3-year license suspension and up to 15 years of ignition interlock driving. Offenders in this category may also be required to file a Connecticut SR22 insurance form with the DMV before their driver's license is reinstated.
Connecticut SR22 Requirements
When seeking a restricted license or having their driver's license reinstated, OUI offenders are usually required to file a Connecticut SR22 form. Typically, drivers are expected to carry their SR22 insurance for at least three years.
During these three years, the insurance provider must alert the state DMV if there is any lapse on the motorist's part. If this happens, the Connecticut DMV will likely suspend the driver's license, and the motorist will be required to re-file an SR22 form with the DMV before another permit is issued.
How Long Does an OUI Stay on Your Record in Connecticut?
A person who commits an OUI will be placed on probation for the first ten years after committing the first offense. If the person does not commit another OUI within ten years of the first offense, then the probationary period will end after ten years. Essentially, a Connecticut OUI will remain on an offenders' record for ten years after committing the offense. This is for administration and records.
OUI Expungement in Connecticut
In Connecticut, an expungement is known as an absolute pardon. Since an OUI is a misdemeanor in Connecticut, the defendant must wait three years after the date of their conviction before they apply for an absolute pardon.
An Absolute Pardon is also known as an expungement/erasure/full pardon. It results in complete erasure of the driver's official Connecticut adult criminal record if it is granted. An OUI is a misdemeanor in Connecticut; therefore, the defendant must wait three years after the date of his conviction before they apply for an absolute pardon. The driver will apply for a pardon with the Pardons Board to apply for a pardon. The chances of a favorable response increase if the driver does not have any pending case or other open cases in any other jurisdiction – whether state or federal.
How Likely is Jail Time After a First OUI in Connecticut?
Not likely, because there is a Pre-trial Alcohol Education Program that allows drivers charged with certain OUI offenses, such as a first offense, to avoid prosecution by completing an alcohol or drug education course. If an offender attends the program and completes it, their court files are sealed, and the charges against the offender are dismissed. Alcohol programs may include a 10-or 15-week education program.
If the offender chooses not to attend the Pre-trial Alcohol Education program, then it is very likely that they might receive a jail time penalty as all first-time offenders are required by law to serve jail time.
What is the Average Cost of OUI in Connecticut?
A significant portion of the entire cost of OUI in Connecticut is spent on attorney fees, which varies based on the attorney's level of experience. According to CGS § 14-227a (l), offenders will have to pay court fines that range from $500 to $1000 for a first-time offender. In addition, they may spend a probation fee of $200, other miscellaneous court fees ranging from $105 to $500, a $75 Victim Impact Panel Program fee, and other variable extra costs for substance abuse counseling and treatment if needed by probation. In addition to the court fines, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles will charge the offender various fees resulting from license suspension under the Implied Consent Law under Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227b.
The direct costs associated with the OUI/DUI DMV process include the following: $100 application fee for a Special Operator's Permit (Work Permit), $175 restoration fee, $100 ignition interlock device (IID) application fee, Variable ignition interlock device (IID) installation fees (usually between $50 and $150), and Variable IID monthly maintenance fees (usually between $50 and $100). Medical expenses may also arise if another party is involved and an individual is wounded or if the offending motorist is the one who is injured.
How Much is Bail for an OUI in Connecticut?
OUI bail can range from $500 to $10,000 for a first-time offender in Connecticut. If an offender is charged with a felony or a subsequent OUI violation, the driver may face a bail sum of up to $50,000.
How to Get My License Back After an OUI in Connecticut?
When the offender meets the DMV or court-imposed conditions, they may petition to have their license reinstated at a local CT DMV office. In Connecticut, offenders must comply with the following requirements to reinstate a suspended license. They must:
- Install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) for a specified period; this is often determined by the offender's age and the number of prior convictions on their record.
- Drivers 21 years of age or older are required to retain an IID for at least six months upon reinstatement, while underage motorists (those under the age of 21) must have an IID for at least one year following reinstatement.
- Additionally, drivers who have been convicted in court may be required to install and keep an IID for a more extended period.
- Other reinstatement requirements may also apply, such as providing payment for the set fees.
- In Connecticut, the reinstatement cost is $175 for each suspension, and payment is made by mail to the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.
How Does an OUI Affect Your Life in Connecticut?
When convicted of an OUI in Connecticut, the offender may likely face jail time, especially if they have at least one prior conviction. Even for first-time OUI offenders, fines can be heavy. Offenders are also likely to lose their driver's license for an extended length of time; the length of time, in this case, is more than likely to increase with each subsequent conviction.
Can You Get Fired for an OUI in Connecticut?
Yes, OUI offenders in Connecticut may be fired following their offense, especially if the job is driving-focused or entails a lot of driving. However, it primarily depends on the work policy of the employer. Furthermore, given that Connecticut is an at-will employment state, employers can terminate an employee's employment for any reason, except those that are prohibited by the law, such as discrimination based on gender or race. Therefore if you work as a commercial driver, an OUI conviction might threaten your career, even if you were arrested for drunk driving while off duty. If your work needs a professional license, you risk losing it if your licensing authority learns of your conviction.
How Do I Find OUI/DUI Checkpoints in Connecticut?
While OUI checkpoints are legal and constitutional in Connecticut, police personnel must adhere to the Connecticut State Policy Administration and Operations manual's rules, requiring media notification at least three days before the operation. To locate an OUI/DUI checkpoint in Connecticut, you can search the internet or consult your local newspaper to determine whether a checkpoint will be held in your region. When traveling, offenders may type "OUI checkpoint" or "sobriety checkpoint" into the search box and then click on the news results to view the checkpoints along the route to their destination.
Which is Worse, OUI vs. OWI?
In Connecticut, OUI is the preferred legal term for drunk driving. As a result, it is almost impossible to determine which is worse between OUI and OWI. Both words mean the same thing in Connecticut, and OUI is the principal term used. All OUI convictions may result in license suspensions, fines, jail time, and community service in terms of sanctions and penalties.