In Connecticut, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle while “under the influence” (OUI) of drugs or alcohol or with an “elevated” blood alcohol content (BAC). “Under the influence” means that the operator’s ability to drive is “affected to an appreciable degree.” (Infield v. Sullivan, 151 Conn. 506 (1964).)
Generally, an “elevated” BAC is .08% or more. But Connecticut has essentially a zero tolerance policy for motorists under age 21. For these underage drivers, it’s illegal to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or greater. (Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § § 14-227a, 14-227g (2017).)
An OUI arrest typically triggers two separate proceedings: a criminal court prosecution, (“criminal proceedings”) and an action by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) (“administrative proceedings”). This article gives an overview of the criminal and administrative penalties an underage motorists faces for an OUI.
There are special arrest procedures for OUI offenders who are 16 or 17 years old. The police seize the youth’s license and typically tow the car. The police keep the license for 48 hours, during which time it is automatically suspended. The driver’s parent or legal guardian must appear in person and sign to retrieve the youngster’s license. The driver and his or her family are responsible for towing and storage expenses. (Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. §14-36i (2017).)
Depending upon certain factors, the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program (AEP) is available to an underage driver for a first OUI arrest. AEP involves ten to 15 alcohol intervention sessions, program fees of $550 to $750, and, usually, a victim impact panel (an additional $75). By successfully completing AEP the offender can avoid an OUI conviction. (Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. §54-56g (2017).)
“Criminal penalties” are those imposed by a judge in court following a conviction. An underage OUI offender can generally expect the following criminal penalties:
(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. §14-227 (2017).)
HOW MUCH TIME WOULD YOU ACTUALLY SPEND IN JAIL?
Generally speaking, sentencing law is complex and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can impact actual incarceration time including the judge’s ability to “suspend” all or a portion of the sentence and alternative supervision or treatment programs.
If you face criminal charges, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with command of the rules in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the law as it applies to your situation.
An OUI arrest—even without a conviction in court—can lead to administrative consequences imposed by the DMV. These consequences generally include:
Generally, when two license suspensions are imposed (one by the court and another by the DMV), they are allowed to overlap. So the driver doesn’t end up having to complete both full suspensions.
(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-227b (2017).)
This article gives an overview of OUI penalties. But, it’s no substitute for the advice and guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. There are many factors that can impact OUI outcomes. If you’ve been arrested, you should always contact an attorney right away. A qualified attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case.