Connecticut, like all other states, prohibits operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In Connecticut, an OUI (operating under the influence), sometimes called “DUI,” results in criminal and administrative penalties. Both types of penalties increase in severity if a driver has prior OUI convictions. This article, however, focuses solely on the penalties for a second offense. In Connecticut, an OUI is considered a second offense if it occurred within ten years of a prior conviction.
“Criminal penalties” are those imposed by a judge in court. Generally, a second OUI carries:
(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-227a(g)(2) (2017).)
However, this summary doesn’t tell the whole story. Here are more of the details.
Felony. Under Connecticut law, a second OUI is a felony. (McCoy v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 300 Conn 144 (2011).)
Prison. Most second offender convictions do result in a sentence of two years. However, the defendant doesn’t actually spend two years in prison. The court usually imposes maximum two-year sentence then “suspends” it. This means the defendant serves some time in jail—most frequently the mandatory minimum 120 days—and the balance of two-year sentence exists as a possible penalty if the driver violates probation. There’s a chance the defendant will get released sometime before the 120 days has elapsed, but early release isn’t automatic.
Fines. The majority of cases resolve with the minimum $1,000 fine. However, on top of the fines, there are court costs. These costs are presently less than $100, but periodically go up as the legislature looks for ways to raise revenue.
License suspension & IIDs. As stated above, the criminal penalties include a license suspension of 45 days and an IID mandate. The suspended driver must pay the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) $175 to restore a license after the 45 day period. Additionally, the driver must pay a $100 IID processing fee to the DMV. IIDs must be leased, another monthly fee, and installed in every car the individual drives. Each month, the driver must bring the IID to a service location to be tested. Fortunately, this testing is covered under the monthly lease fee.
Probation. The sentencing judge determines the length of a second offender’s probation. But one should expect an 18-to-24-month term. The automatic, undisclosed probation fee is $200.
The judge can and will impose a myriad of conditions of probation. A second offender can expect 100 hours of community service, having to complete an evaluation for alcohol and drug abuse, and a restriction on operating a car while the license suspension is in effect. The sentencing court also has the authority to impose additional conditions.
An OUI arrest—even without a conviction in court—triggers administrative license and driving privilege consequences that come from the DMV. For a second offense, the administrative penalties include a 45-day license suspension and three-year IID requirement.
However, a motorist who’s ultimately convicted of the OUI doesn’t have to complete two full suspension and IID requirements (one for the administrative and another for the criminal penalties). More often than not, the DMV-imposed license suspension and IID restriction have already commenced by the time notice of the court conviction reaches the DMV. Fortunately for the driver, the DMV allows the suspension and IID periods to overlap. Also, if the driver has successfully served the DMV-imposed 45-day suspension and paid for IID installation, the DMV won’t require additional suspension time for the court conviction. With the IID restriction it’s a little different: While the two periods (criminal and administrative) can overlap, the driver must have an IID for a full three years following the conviction.
(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-227b (2017).)
This article gives an overview of second-offense OUI penalties for second offenders. But it’s no substitute for the advice and guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you’ve been arrested, you should always contact an attorney right away. There are many factors—such as the driver’s age and whether there were injuries—that can impact the process and consequences. A qualified attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case.