Connecticut Drugged Driving Laws

Learn about the penalties for drugged or high driving in Connecticut.

While Connecticut has legalized the recreational use of marijuana, operating under the influence (OUI) of marijuana and other substances is still very much illegal. This article explains how drugged driving can lead to an OUI conviction as well as the associated penalties.

Level of Drug Impairment That Can Lead to an OUI

Connecticut prohibits driving under the influence of any intoxicating liquor or drug. Because there is no per se limit on consumed drugs (for alcohol, there's a per se blood alcohol limit of .08%), the focus of a drug OUI is on the driver's level of impairment.

Impairment. A driver is considered under the influence if his or her mental, physical, or nervous processes are not functioning properly in order to drive. During an OUI investigation, the officer will typically use special drug recognition tests to determine if the driver is under the influence of drugs or other substances. To prove an OUI charge at trial, the prosecutor can use evidence like blood test results, expert testimony, and the drug recognition test results to prove impairment.

Any drug can result in an OUI. It's illegal to drive while under the influence of any drug, be it street drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine or legal drugs like marijuana or prescription medications. A driver that is legally permitted to use the substance ingested (due to a prescription or otherwise) can still be convicted for driving under the influence.

Connecticut OUI Penalties

Drugged driving is generally a misdemeanor and the penalties are the same as those for drunk driving. Connecticut counts all prior OUI offenses within the last ten years.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

48 hours (or 100 hours community service) up to 6 months

120 days to 2 years

1 to 3 years

Fines

$500 to $1,000

$1,000 to $4,000

$2,000 to $8,000

License Suspension

45 days

45 days

Permanent

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

1 year

3 year

NA

In addition to the mandatory fines and incarceration, for a first offense, the court can also order up to 100 hours of community service, substance abuse education or treatment, and attendance at a victim impact panel.

Administrative Suspension

During an OUI investigation, the officer will normally request that the driver submit to specialized drug tests to determine if the driver is impaired. The tests might include a blood test, breath test, or a "nontestimonial drug influence evaluation." A drug influence evaluation is a special series of tests that are supposed to give clues to the possible drugs the driver might have ingested. These tests often look for unique symptoms such as random eye movement, dry-mouth, and twitching. The non-verbal portions of this test are recorded in the nontestimonial drug influence evaluation.

Test failure. If the drug influence evaluation reveals that the driver is under the influence of drugs, the report will be sent to the DMV. Depending on the result, the DMV might suspend the driver's license for 45 days and imposed a six-month ignition interlock device requirement to follow.

Test refusal. If the driver refuses to submit to either a blood test or to the drug influence evaluation, the officer will send a report of the refusal to the DMV. Under Connecticut's implied consent law, the DMV will suspend the driver's license for 45 days followed by one year with an ignition interlock device. Drivers with prior offenses will face increased license penalties.

Options

A drugged driving charge—especially a first offense—can sometimes be reduced or even dismissed through certain plea negotiations or with Connecticut's pretrial drug education program. Visit with an OUI attorney to learn about your options.

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