Operating while under the influence (OUI) (also called "driving under the influence" (DUI)) in Connecticut is generally defined as driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A Connecticut OWI is generally a misdemeanor. But certain aggravating factors or criminal history can elevate an OWI to a felony. This article outlines these factors as well as the possible penalties of a felony OWI conviction.
Rather than designating certain offenses as felonies or misdemeanors, Connecticut simply defines a felony as any criminal offense that's punishable by more than one year in prison. (For example, a first-offense OUI would be a misdemeanor as the maximum jail time is six months.) Here are a few of the more common types of OUI felonies.
When someone is convicted of an OUI, the possible penalties increase with the number of prior OUI convictions the person has that occurred in the last ten years.
A second or subsequent OUI is considered a felony because the possible jail time for a conviction exceeds one year. Specifically, a second-offense OUI carries 120 days to two years in jail, $1,000 to $4,000 in fines, 100 hours of community service, a drug and alcohol assessment, a 45-day license suspension, and a three-year ignition interlock device (IID) restriction.
School bus drivers who are caught operating their bus while under the influence also face felony charges as a conviction carries one to ten years in jail. And because a school bus is considered a commercial vehicle, the driver can be convicted of an OUI with a BAC of .04% or more.
An OUI violation resulting in the loss of life will also be considered a felony. Causing the death of another due to the impaired operation of a motor vehicle is second-degree manslaughter, a class C felony. A class C felony carries one to ten years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
If you're arrested for driving under the influence, it's important to get in contact with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand what you're up against and advise you on the best course of action.