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OLR Research Report


CONNECTICUT DUI LAW

By: Paul Frisman, Principal Analyst


ISSUE
This report updates OLR Report 2014-R-0251 on driving under the influence (DUI) laws and related offenses. It does not address boating-related DUI laws.

SUMMARY

Connecticut's DUI law consists primarily of two statutes, CGS 14-227a and -227b. The first prohibits a person from driving (1) while “under the influence” of alcohol or drugs or (2) with an “elevated” blood alcohol content (BAC). A person is under the influence if his or her ability to drive is affected to an appreciable degree. The maximum allowable BAC depends on the driver's age and the type of vehicle he or she is operating.

Drivers over age 21 have an elevated BAC if it is found to be .08% or more. Drivers operating a commercial motor vehicle (e.g., a large truck) have an elevated BAC if it is .04% or more. Under CGS 14-227g people younger than 21 have an elevated BAC if it is found to be .02% or more. The law specifies evidence admissibility criteria for alcohol and drug tests.

Connecticut law provides for a Pretrial Alcohol Education Program under which certain eligible offenders charged with DUI may successfully complete an alcohol intervention or substance abuse treatment program, as appropriate, and have the DUI charges dismissed (CGS 54-56g).

All drivers convicted of DUI face fines and prison terms. In addition, penalties for first- and second-time offenders include a 45-day license suspension and ignition interlock restrictions. Third-time and subsequent offenders face license revocation and ignition interlock restrictions if a license is eventually reinstated (see Table 1, below). An ignition interlock device (IID) prevents a driver from operating a vehicle if his or her BAC is above a certain threshold.

Under the second statute, CGS 14-227b, motorists implicitly consent to be tested for drugs or alcohol when they drive. The law establishes administrative license suspension procedures for drivers who refuse to submit to a test or whose test results indicate an elevated BAC. (These provisions are called “implied consent” and “administrative per se,” respectively.) The license suspension period for all per se violations is 45 days. Drivers must operate only ignition interlock equipped vehicles for specified periods after this suspension ends (see Table 5, below).

The law also requires use of an IID for two years following the mandatory one-year license suspension following conviction for 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle (CGS 53a-56b) or 2nd degree assault with a motor vehicle (CGS 53a-60d). These crimes apply to drivers who cause the death or serious injury of another person, respectively, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The court may also order an individual arrested for DUI, 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, or 2nd degree assault with a motor vehicle to operate only motor vehicles equipped with IIDs as a condition of (1) release on bail, (2) probation, or (3) granting his or her application to take part in the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program (CGS 14-227j (b)).

Someone who holds a commercial driver's license (CDL) faces disqualification from driving a commercial motor vehicle for one year if he or she is found to have: (1) a BAC of .04% or more while driving a commercial vehicle, (2) a BAC of .08% or more while driving any other type of vehicle, (3) refused a BAC test when driving any motor vehicle, or (4) been convicted of DUI. CDL holders who commit two or more of certain offenses, including DUI, face a lifetime ban on driving commercial motor vehicles, but may get their license back if they meet certain conditions.

Police must impound for 48 hours the motor vehicle of someone arrested for DUI who was driving while his or her license was suspended or revoked. The owner may reclaim the vehicle after paying towing and storage costs (CGS 14-227h).

PA 16-126 increases the criminal penalties for DUI (1) with a passenger under age 18 or (2) when driving a school bus, student transportation vehicle (STV), or other motor vehicle specially designated for carrying children, regardless of whether a passenger under age 18 is present. The act imposes longer mandatory minimum and maximum prison terms and mandatory probation for first offenses; subjects people charged with these crimes to the administrative per se procedure; and generally applies to people charged with these crimes the same restrictions and requirements that apply to people convicted of DUI.

In addition, people found to be “persistent operating while under the influence felony offenders” are subject to an increased criminal penalty.

DRIVING WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUGS (CGS 14-227a)

Driving Under the Influence or with an Elevated BAC

The law prohibits driving (1) while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or (2) with an “elevated blood alcohol content.” A person is “under the influence” if his or her ability to drive is affected by alcohol or drugs to an appreciable degree (Infeld v. Sullivan, 151 Conn. 506 (1964)). This may be prosecuted with or without any direct evidence of his or her BAC.

A person has an elevated blood alcohol content if his or her BAC is at least .08% alcohol by weight. The law also makes it illegal for someone driving a commercial motor vehicle to have a BAC of .04% or more and for anyone under age 21 to drive with a BAC of .02% or more.

The DUI law applies to drivers operating motor vehicles anywhere, including their own property, and to people operating snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (CGS 14-227a(a)).

Before dismissing, declining to prosecute, or reducing a DUI charge, a prosecutor must state the reasons for doing so in court (CGS 14-227a(f)).

BAC Tests

A police officer may measure a motorist's BAC by testing the driver's blood, breath, or urine. The law establishes a rebuttable presumption that a driver's BAC at the time it is tested is the same as the BAC at the time he or she was stopped. The law requires two tests at least 10 minutes apart. If the result of the second test is .10% or less, and higher than the first test, the prosecution must demonstrate that the test results and analysis accurately reflect the driver's BAC at the time of the alleged offense (CGS 14-227a(b)).

Admissibility of Evidence for Uninjured Drivers

The standard for determining whether evidence is admissible depends on whether the driver was injured.

In order for the test results of an uninjured driver to be admissible:

1. the driver must have (a) been given a reasonable chance to call a lawyer before taking the test and (b) consented to taking it;

2. a copy of the test results must be mailed or personally delivered to the driver within 24 hours or at the end of the next business day after the results are known;

3. the test must be administered by a police officer or at the officer's direction;

4. the test must be administered using methods and equipment approved by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) and according to DESPP regulations;

5. the test equipment must have been checked for accuracy according to DESPP regulations;

6. a second test of the same type generally must be administered at least 10 minutes after the first test is conducted (unless the second test is to detect the presence of drugs, in which case it can be of a different type and does not have to be administered within that time frame); and

7. the test must have begun within two hours of operation (presumably the time of the alleged offense) (CGS 14-227a(b)).

The DESPP commissioner must determine the reliability of each method and type of device used to test blood, breath, and urine, and certify those suitable for use in Connecticut. He must adopt regulations governing the conduct of tests; the operation and use of test devices; the training and certification of test operators; and the drawing or obtaining of blood, breath, and urine samples (CGS 14-227a(d)).

Evidence that a driver refused to submit to a test is admissible if the procedural requirements of CGS 14-227b (described below) are followed. At trial, the court must instruct the jury as to what inferences it can and cannot draw from a refusal (CGS 14-227a(e)).

Admissibility of Evidence for Samples Taken from Apparently Injured Drivers Requiring Medical Treatment

A different set of admissibility standards applies to blood or urine samples taken from an injured driver in the course of his or her medical treatment. Results of a chemical analysis of the sample are competent evidence to establish probable cause for the person's arrest by warrant and are admissible in a subsequent prosecution if:

1. the sample was taken for the diagnosis and treatment of the injury;

2. of a blood sample, it was taken in accordance with DESPP regulations;

3. a police officer satisfies a Superior Court judge that (a) he or she had reason to believe the motorist was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and (b) the blood or urine sample constitutes evidence of this offense; and

4. the judge issues a search warrant authorizing the seizure of the test results. The warrant may also authorize the seizure of hospital medical records prepared in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of the injury (CGS 14-227a(k)).

Penalties

A person convicted of DUI is subject to the criminal penalties listed in Table 1. In assessing these penalties, the law considers a subsequent conviction one that occurs within 10 years of a prior conviction for the same offense (CGS 14-227a (g)).

In practice, however, the first conviction of a driver for DUI is usually for the driver's second violation because a first offender charged with DUI may apply to the court for admission to the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program (see below). The applicant must state under oath that he or she has not been in the program in the preceding 10 years. The court must dismiss the DUI charges if the driver satisfactorily completes the program.

Table 1: DUI Criminal Penalties (CGS 14-227a (g))

Conviction

Prison Sentence

Fine

License Suspension

First

Either (1) up to six months with a mandatory minimum of two days or (2) up to six months suspended with probation requiring 100 hours of community service

$500- $1,000

45 days, followed by one year driving only a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock.

Conviction

Prison Sentence

Fine

License Suspension

Second

Up to two years, with a mandatory minimum of 120 consecutive days and probation with 100 hours community service

$1,000- $4,000

45 days, followed by three years of driving only a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock, with operation for the first year limited to travel to or from work, school, an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program, ignition interlock service center, or probation appointment.

Third and Subsequent

Up to three years, with mandatory minimum of one year and probation with 100 hours community service

$2,000- $8,000

License revoked, but the offender is eligible for reinstatement after two years. If reinstated, he or she must drive only interlock-equipped vehicles for as long as the offender drives, except that the DMV commissioner may lift this requirement after 15 years.

The license suspension is stayed while a conviction is appealed. For motorists driving under a special operator's permit (described below) suspension periods are doubled (CGS 14-227a (h). In addition to these penalties, the court can order a driver to participate in an alcohol education and treatment program (CGS 14-227a (j)).

License suspension for conviction of a criminal DUI charge is in addition to any previously imposed administrative license suspension under the implied consent law (see below). The Connecticut Supreme Court has held that an administrative license suspension is not a bar to criminal prosecution (State v. Hickam, 235 Conn. 614 (1995)).

Also, any conviction that occurs in another state for an offense that the court determines has substantially the same essential elements as Connecticut's criminal drunk driving offenses, 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, or 2nd degree assault with a motor vehicle, constitutes a prior conviction of the same offense for

purposes of determining someone's prior criminal history (CGS 14-227a(g)). By law, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may impose IID requirements as well as license suspensions for second or subsequent convictions (CGS 14-111n (d)).

Victim Panel. If the court sentences someone to probation, it may require as a condition that the offender take part in a victim impact panel program approved by the judicial branch's Court Support Services Division (CSSD). The panel must provide a non-confrontational forum for victims of alcohol- or drug-related offenses and offenders to share experiences on the impact of alcohol- or drug-related incidents on their lives. The nonprofit organization that conducts the panel may charge an offender ordered to participate a fee of up to $75 (CGS 14-227a(l)).

Assessment and Treatment. For second or subsequent DUI convictions, the law requires an offender to (1) submit to an alcohol or drug abuse assessment through CSSD and (2) undergo a treatment program if ordered to do so by the court (CGS 14-227a(g)).

Home Confinement. The law allows the Department of Correction (DOC) commissioner to release an inmate sentenced for DUI, after admission and conducting a risk and needs assessment, to the inmate's home. The released offender cannot leave his or her home without authorization, remains in DOC custody, and is supervised by DOC employees. The DOC commissioner can revoke the release and return the person to prison for violating release conditions (CGS 18-100h (a)).

Drivers Age 16 and 17

The law imposes stricter rules on 16- and 17-year-old drivers cited for either driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with an elevated BAC (which for them is .02% or more). Under these conditions, the police officer, acting on behalf of the DMV commissioner, must seize the driver's license for 48 hours and have the vehicle removed. The license is considered suspended for 48 hours, starting when the arrest is made or the summons issued.

To regain the license, the 16- or 17-year-old and, unless he or she is an emancipated minor, his or her parent or legal guardian, must, after the 48-hour period ends, appear in person at the police department, state police barracks, or other designated location and sign a written acknowledgement of its return. No restoration fee may be charged for return of the license. The police officer who seized the license must send a written report of the violation and the suspension to the DMV commissioner (CGS 14-36i (b)).

A driver under age 18 who is arrested for DUI is not eligible for youthful offender status (CGS 54-76b).

IGNITION INTERLOCKS

Ignition interlock devices are installed in motor vehicles to prevent people from driving under the influence of alcohol. They require the driver to breathe into them to operate the vehicle. If the device detects a BAC above a certain threshold it prevents the vehicle from being started. IIDs also require the driver to submit periodic breath samples while he or she is driving. Offenders must pay DMV a $100 fee before the device is installed; DMV uses this money to administer the interlock program. Offenders also must pay the costs of installing and maintaining the devices (CGS 14-227a(i)).

Interlock Requirements – Criminal Convictions

The following interlock restrictions apply once the license suspension periods described above end. (However, the commissioner may extend, through regulations he adopts, periods of required interlock use beyond those the law requires (CGS 14-227a(i)(10)).

First- and Second-Time DUI Offenders. First-time offenders must drive only vehicles equipped with IIDs for one year. Second-time offenders must drive only interlock-equipped vehicles for three years.

During the first year of the three-year period, second-time offenders may only drive interlock-equipped vehicles to or from (1) work, (2) school, (3) an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program, (4) an ignition interlock service center, or (5) probation appointment. The commissioner must note this restriction on the driver's electronic records (license and driving history) as he does for other ignition interlock requirements.

First- and second-time offenders must verify to the commissioner, in a manner he determines, that they have had the interlock devices installed (CGS 14-227a(i)).

Third-Time and Subsequent DUI Offenders. The law requires DMV to revoke the license of third-time and subsequent offenders, although it allows the offender to request that DMV restore the license after two years. The commissioner may restore the license if (1) doing so does not endanger public safety, (2) the individual has met certain requirements (including completing an alcohol and drug education program, see below), and (3) the offender will drive only vehicles

equipped with IIDs for as long as he or she continues to drive. But the law also allows an offender to ask the commissioner to lift the interlock requirement after 15 years, and allows the commissioner to do so after a hearing and for good cause (CGS 14-111(i)).

Sentence Re-imposition

The law requires the commissioner to reinstate the original license suspension on someone who fails to use an IID as required until the person demonstrates to the commissioner's satisfaction that he or she intends to install and maintain the IID for the required period. The commissioner must adopt regulations specifying (1) which actions constitute a failure to comply with the requirements, (2) which of these actions will result in DMV increasing the length of time the individual must drive only interlock-equipped vehicles, and (3) the length of these extensions (CGS 14-111(j) and 14-227a(i)(3)).

Ignition Interlock Requirements for Other Crimes

The law requires anyone convicted of 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle or 2nd degree assault with a motor vehicle to operate ignition interlock-equipped motor vehicles for two years following a mandatory one-year license suspension (CGS 53a-56b and -60d). A court also may order anyone arrested for these crimes to only operate motor vehicles equipped with ignition interlock devices as a condition of (1) release on bail, (2) probation, or (3) granting his or her application to participate in the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program (CGS 14-227j(b)).

Penalties for Evading Ignition Interlock Restrictions

People under a court or DMV order for ignition interlock use face criminal penalties for evading those restrictions. Anyone who asks another person to breathe into an interlock to start a vehicle or tampers with, bypasses, or alters an interlock commits a class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to three months in prison, a fine of up to $500, or both (CGS 14-227k(c)).

People who illegally drive a vehicle (1) not equipped with a functioning interlock or (2) that a court has prohibited them from driving, face stiffer penalties, as described in Table 2, below.

Table 2: Criminal Penalties for Illegally Driving a Vehicle without an Interlock

Offense

Penalty

First

$500 to $1,000 fine

Up to one year in prison, 30 days mandatory minimum*

Second

$500 to $1,000 fine

Up to two years in prison, 120 day mandatory minimum*

Third or subsequent

$500 to $1,000 fine

Up to three years in prison, 1 year mandatory minimum*

*The court is not required to impose the mandatory minimum sentence if it states mitigating circumstances in writing.

By law, DMV must also suspend for one year the license or nonresident operating privilege of anyone convicted of any of the above offenses (CGS 14-227k(d)).

A driver is ineligible to operate a motor vehicle with an ignition interlock if his or her license was suspended for any reason other than conviction of (1) DUI, (2) 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, or (3) 2nd degree assault with a motor vehicle (CGS 14-227a(i)).

DUI WITH A PASSENGER UNDER AGE 18 (CHILD PASSENGER) OR WHEN DRIVING A SCHOOL BUS OR SIMILAR VEHICLE (PA 16-126)

PA 16-126, effective October 1, 2016, establishes specific crimes for (1) DUI with a child passenger in any motor vehicle (including a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle) and (2) DUI when driving a school bus, STV, or other motor vehicle specially designated for carrying children, with or without a child passenger. As under DUI law:

1. these crimes apply if someone is driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with an elevated BAC and

2. the threshold for an elevated BAC is .08% for most drivers over age 21, .04% for drivers over age 21 if operating a commercial vehicle, and .02% for drivers younger than 21.

Because a CDL is required to drive a school bus, the BAC threshold for such drivers over age 21 is .04%. Because an STV is not necessarily classified as a commercial vehicle, the BAC threshold for STV drivers over age 21 is generally .08%.

Criminal Penalties for DUI with a Child Passenger

Similar to DUI law, PA 16-126 establishes graduated penalties for the crime of DUI with a child passenger, including prison and probation terms; fines; and license suspension and ignition interlock requirements.

The act increases the penalties for this crime compared to DUI law by:

1. requiring a mandatory minimum prison term for first convictions and increasing the mandatory minimum prison terms for second or subsequent convictions,

2. increasing maximum prison terms for all convictions,

3. requiring probation for first convictions and adding to the required components of probation for all convictions, and

4. increasing maximum fines for first convictions.

Table 3 shows the criminal penalties for the crime of DUI with a child passenger. As under DUI law, a subsequent conviction is one that occurs within 10 years of a prior conviction.

Table 3: Criminal Penalties, DUI with a Child Passenger

Penalty Type

DUI with a Child Passenger

First Conviction

Prison Sentence

Up to one year with a mandatory minimum of 30 days

Probation required, including (1) 100 hours of community service; (2) submitting to an assessment of the degree of the person's alcohol or drug abuse, conducted by the Court Support Services Division (CSSD); (3) undergoing a treatment program, including chemical screening, if ordered by the court; (4) submitting to a Department of Children and Families (DCF) interview and evaluation to assess any ongoing risk the person poses to the child passenger; and (5) cooperating with any programming, treatment, directives, or plan that DCF may require

Fine

$500- $2,000

License Suspension

Same as the DUI law (see Table 1)

Second Conviction

Prison Sentence

Up to three years, with a mandatory minimum of 180 consecutive days

Probation required, with the same conditions as for a first conviction (see above)

Fine

$1,000- $4,000

License Suspension

Same as the DUI law (see Table 1), except during first year of travel with ignition interlock device, the act also allows travel to DCF-ordered treatment programs and appointments with DCF caseworkers

Third Conviction

Prison Sentence

Up to five years, with mandatory minimum of two years

Probation required, with same conditions as for a first or second conviction (see above)

Fine

$2,000- $8,000

License Suspension

Same as DUI law (see Table 1)

Under PA 16-126, convictions for any such crimes, or the act's new crimes, are counted as prior convictions for purposes of DUI or DUI with a child passenger.

It also specifies that a conviction for the separate existing crime of DUI by a driver under age 21 is counted as a prior conviction for purposes of the new crime of DUI with a child passenger.

Criminal Penalties for DUI While Driving a School Bus, STV, or Similar Vehicle

PA 16-126 also creates a separate crime for DUI while driving a school bus, STV, or other “motor vehicle specially designated for carrying children.” It defines the last term as any motor vehicle, other than a registered school bus or STV, designated or used to transport children to or from any program or activity organized primarily for minors, regardless of whether the passengers are charged a fee, but not including a passenger vehicle normally used for personal, family, or household purposes operated by someone without a public passenger endorsement.

Unlike DUI law, this crime does not have graduated penalties for multiple convictions. As compared to DUI law, it:

1. requires a mandatory minimum prison term and probation for first convictions,

2. increases the maximum prison terms for all convictions, and

3. eliminates minimum fines while increasing maximum fines.

For all convictions for this crime, the act requires the same period of license suspension and ignition interlock usage as for second convictions under DUI law.

Under the act, the mandatory minimum prison term is longer (120 days) if the offense occurs with a child passenger in the bus or similar vehicle than if there is not (30 days).

Table 4 describes in detail the criminal penalties for this crime.

Table 4: Criminal Penalties, DUI While Driving a School Bus, STV, or Similar Vehicle

Penalty Type

Penalty

Prison Sentence

One to 10 years, with a mandatory minimum of (1) 30 consecutive days or (2) 120 consecutive days if a child was a passenger during the offense

Probation required, including (1) 100 hours of community service; (2) submitting to an assessment of the degree of the person's alcohol or drug abuse, conducted by CSSD; and (3) undergoing a treatment program, including chemical screening, if ordered by the court

Fine

Up to $10,000

License Suspension

45 days, followed by three years of driving only a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device, with operation for the first year limited to travel to or from work, school, an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program, ignition interlock service center, or probation appointment

PERSISTENT DUI OFFENDERS (CGS 53A-40F)

A person is considered a “persistent operating while under the influence felony offender” if he or she (1) is convicted of 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle or 2nd degree assault with a motor vehicle and (2) within the previous 10 years has been convicted of either of these offenses, DUI, or substantially similar offenses in other states.

The court may impose the prison sentence for the next higher degree of felony for a persistent DUI offender. Thus, it increases, from 10 years to 20 years, the maximum possible prison term for a persistent offender convicted of 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle and from five years to 10 years the maximum possible sentence for a persistent offender convicted of 2nd degree assault with a motor vehicle.

OUT-OF-STATE OFFENSES

By federal and state law, states must record convictions for certain offenses, including DUI, committed by nonresidents and report these convictions to the offender's home state for imposition of penalties. This means that DUI and other alcohol-related criminal offenses that occur out-of-state, the essential elements of which the court determines are substantially the same as Connecticut offenses, constitute a prior offense for determining the imposition of penalties for second or subsequent offenses in Connecticut. DMV also generally imposes the license suspension and IID requirements Connecticut law requires for a second or subsequent offense on someone convicted of DUI in another state who was convicted of DUI here or in another state within the previous 10 years (CGS 14-111n).

IMPLIED CONSENT TO TEST AND ADMINISTRATIVE PER SE LICENSE SUSPENSION (CGS 14-227B)

Implied Consent

Anyone who drives implicitly consents to the testing of his or her blood, breath, or urine. If the driver is a minor, his or her parents or guardians are considered to have given their consent.

On arresting someone for DUI and before administering the test, the police officer must:

1. inform the driver of his or her constitutional rights;

2. give the driver a chance to call a lawyer;

3. inform the driver that his or her license will be suspended if he or she refuses to take the test, or if the test results indicate an elevated BAC; and

4. inform the driver that evidence of a refusal may be used against him or her in a criminal prosecution.

Administrative Per Se

This law requires an administrative license suspension process for drivers who refuse to submit to the test or whose test results indicate an elevated BAC (at least .08% for non-commercial vehicle drivers, .04% for commercial vehicle drivers, or .02% for drivers under age 21). In such cases, the police officer, acting on behalf of the DMV commissioner, must revoke the driver's license for 24 hours and submit a report to the DMV. The report must include any test results and the grounds the officer had for making the arrest. In the case of a test refusal, a third party who witnessed the refusal must sign the report (CGS 14-227b(c)).

A different procedure applies when someone gives a blood or urine sample at a police officer's request because these require a laboratory analysis. In this case, the officer cannot immediately take possession of the person's license or follow the other procedural requirements of the per se law. Instead, immediately upon receiving test results showing an elevated BAC, the officer must notify the DMV commissioner and submit the required written report (CGS 14-227b (d)).

The process followed once the commissioner receives the police report depends on the driver's circumstances. As long as the driver either has not (1) previously been suspended for a DUI conviction within the 10 years preceding the current arrest or (2) been involved in a fatal accident, the commissioner may suspend his or her

license or nonresident operating privilege starting on a date not more than 30 days after the person receives notice of his or her arrest. In the case of someone with a prior DUI license suspension or who has been involved in a fatal accident, the commissioner may suspend his or her license or operating privilege on any date specified in the suspension notice. This can be immediate (CGS 14-227b (e)).

In either case, the driver is entitled to a DMV hearing. In the first case (neither fatal accident involvement or prior DUI suspension), this must occur before the suspension goes into effect, provided the person contacts DMV no later than seven days after DMV mails the suspension notice. In the latter case (fatal accident involvement or prior DUI suspension), the hearing can occur after the suspension, but not more than 30 days after the person contacts DMV to schedule a hearing. He or she must request the hearing no later than seven days after DMV mails the suspension notice.

In either case, the issues at the hearing are limited to whether: (1) the police officer had probable cause to make the arrest, (2) the driver was arrested, (3) he or she was driving, and (4) he or she refused the test or had an elevated BAC. (In the case of test results obtained from a blood sample taken from an apparently injured driver, the hearing must additionally determine whether the sample was obtained according to the statutory conditions for admissibility and competence as evidence, as described above.) If the answer to any of the four questions is no, DMV must return the license to the driver. If the answer to all of the questions is yes, DMV must suspend the driver's license for 45 days, followed by mandatory IID use for the periods specified in Table 5.

To get his or her licensed restored, the driver must install and maintain an IID on each motor vehicle he or she owns or operates, and cannot operate a vehicle without an IID for the periods specified in Table 5. By law, a driver must drive IID-equipped vehicles for the longer of the time periods prescribed by the relevant administrative per se (Table 5) or criminal DUI statutes (Table 1) (CGS 14-227b (i) (1)).

The test refusal penalties also apply to someone who takes the initial test but refuses to take a second chemical test. These provisions do not apply to someone whose condition makes such tests medically inadvisable.

Table 5: Required Periods of IID Use after Administrative Per Se License Suspension

Per Se Violation

IID Requirement (After 45-Day License Suspension)

First Suspension

Second Suspension

Third or Subsequent Suspension

Age 21 or older: BAC of (1) 08% or more or (2) 04% or more if operating a commercial vehicle

6 months

1 year

2 years

Under Age 21: BAC of .02% or more

1 year

2 years

3 years

Test refusal, regardless of age

1 year

2 years

3 years

PRETRIAL ALCOHOL EDUCATION PROGRAM (CGS 54-56g)

Someone charged with DUI or, if under 21, operating a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more, may apply to the court for admission to the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program. A driver charged with DUI is ineligible for the program if, when the incident occurred, he or she (1) was driving a commercial motor vehicle or (2) held a CDL or CDL instruction permit (CGS 54-56g(h)). Unless good cause is shown, a driver also is ineligible if he or she was involved in a crash that caused serious physical injury (CGS 54-56g (a)).

An applicant must pay a $100 application fee and a $100 nonrefundable evaluation fee, as well as program fees, which vary. The applicant also must make certain affirmations under oath before the court, including that he or she has not had the program previously invoked on his or her behalf within the preceding 10 years. The court must seal the file when the offender applies for the program.

The court can grant the application after considering the recommendations of the prosecutor in charge of the case. If the court grants the application, it must refer the motorist to (1) CSSD for assessment and confirmation of his or her eligibility and (2) the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) for evaluation. Upon confirmation of eligibility, the person is referred to DMHAS for placement in either an appropriate alcohol intervention program for one year, or a state-licensed substance abuse treatment program.

The court may require, as a condition of granting the application, that the offender take part in a CSSD-approved victim impact panel program. The program provider must offer to waive the program's $75 fee if it determines it would pose an economic hardship.

The court must dismiss the charges if the defendant satisfactorily completes the assigned program and he or she requests dismissal.

The offender's license suspension remains in effect while he or she participates in the program, although he or she can wait to begin the program until the suspension ends.

Program Reinstatement

The law allows reinstatement to the program in certain cases.

If a program provider informs the court that a defendant did not successfully complete the assigned program or is no longer amenable to treatment, the provider must, to the extent practicable, recommend whether the individual would best be served by (1) a 10-session intervention program, (2) a 15-session intervention program, or (3) placement in a state-licensed substance abuse treatment program. The court may order reinstatement in such a program if the defendant requests it and CSSD verifies he or she is eligible (CGS 54-56g(d) & (e)).

However, the court must order the court file unsealed, enter a plea of not guilty for the defendant, and immediately schedule the case for trial, if (1) CSSD informs the court that the defendant is ineligible for the program and the court makes such a finding or (2) the program provider certifies to the court that the defendant did not successfully complete the assigned program or is no longer amenable to treatment, and the defendant does not request, or the court denies, reinstatement (CGS 54-56g(b)) .

INELIGIBILITY FOR CERTAIN COURT PROGRAMS

Among the laws the legislature adopted in 2016 were two public acts affecting eligibility of certain people charged with DUI and other crimes for court programs that could lead to dismissal of the charges.

Dismissal of Certain Charges for People under Age 21

PA 16-182 allows a defendant or prosecutor to ask the court to allow eligible defendants under age 21 charged with certain crimes or motor vehicle violations to take part in a program that can result in dismissal of the charges. The act explicitly prohibits people charged with DUI from participating.

Suspension of Prosecution for Drug and Alcohol Dependent Persons

The law allows a court to suspend prosecution of, and instead order treatment for, certain people charged with a crime and found to be alcohol or drug dependent. Successful completion of the treatment may result in dismissal of the charges (CGS 17a-697).

PA 16-55 prohibits a court from suspending prosecution and ordering treatment for people who are alcohol or drug dependent if they were driving a commercial motor vehicle or held a CDL or commercial driver's instruction permit when the driver was charged with (1) DUI, (2) DUI under age 21, (3) 2nd degree assault with motor vehicle or (4) 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle.

RELATED PROVISIONS

Operating While License Suspended For DUI (CGS 14-215(c))

Anyone who operates a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended or revoked for (1) DUI, (2) 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, (3) 2nd degree assault with a motor vehicle, or (4) refusing to submit to a BAC test or whose test shows an elevated BAC, is subject to a fine of between $500 and $1,000 and imprisonment for up to one year. The offense carries a 30-day mandatory prison sentence unless the court specifies mitigating circumstances.

A driver who operates a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended or revoked for a second violation of the above is subject to a fine of between $500 and $1,000 and imprisonment for up to two years, 120 days of which cannot be suspended unless the court specifies mitigating circumstances. A motorist who drives a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended or revoked for a third or subsequent violation of the above is subject to a fine of between $500 and $1,000 and imprisonment for up to three years, one year of which cannot be suspended unless the court specifies mitigating circumstances.

The judge must specify the mitigating circumstances, or lack of them, in writing.

Testing After Accidents involving Death or Serious Injury (CGS 14-227c)

The chief medical examiner and other specified officials must include in any investigation of a fatal motor vehicle accident a blood sample from any driver or pedestrian who dies in the accident. These samples must be examined for the presence and concentration of alcohol and drugs by the chief medical examiner or the DESPP Division of Scientific Services. A blood or breath sample must be obtained from any surviving driver whose vehicle is involved in an accident

resulting in the death of or serious physical injury to another person if (1) a police officer has probable cause to believe that the driver operated the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, or (2) the driver has been charged in connection with the accident and the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the driver was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. Since the law requires the sample to be tested for drugs as well as alcohol, and breath samples cannot provide reliable evidence of the presence of drugs, the law, in effect, appears to require blood samples from surviving operators.

The testing of any such samples must be performed at the direction of a police officer according to methods and using equipment approved by DESPP. The person performing the test must be certified or recertified for this purpose by DESPP or recertified by someone certified as an instructor by DESPP.

Test equipment must be checked immediately before and after the test by someone who is DESPP-certified. If a blood test is performed, the sample must be taken by a physician, a qualified laboratory technician, a registered nurse, a physician assistant, or a phlebotomist.

Special Operator Permits (CGS 14-37a)

By law, anyone who has had a driver's license suspended, except in certain instances, may apply for a special operator permit that allows him or her to drive for certain work, education, or medical purposes. The DMV commissioner may condition issuance of a special operator permit on the driver operating only a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device (CGS 14-227j (e)).

CDL Holders (CGS 14-44k)

If someone holding a CDL (required to drive buses, large trucks, and trucks carrying hazardous materials) is convicted of DUI while driving a commercial or other vehicle, or found to have either refused to submit to a BAC test or taken and failed the test, he or she is disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle for one year. If an offense involves driving a vehicle transporting hazardous materials requiring placards under federal law, the disqualification is for three years (CGS 14-44k(b), (c) & (d)).

The disqualification applies for (1) any BAC test refusal, regardless of the type of motor vehicle he or she was driving; (2) a BAC result of .04% or more while driving a commercial motor vehicle or .08% or more while driving any other motor vehicle; or (3) a conviction of operating any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both.

The disqualification periods apply to convictions in another state if the commissioner believes the offenses in those states are similar to those under Connecticut's DUI or administrative per se and implied consent law.

CDL holders who commit two or more of certain offenses, including DUI, are disqualified for life from driving a commercial motor vehicle. But most CDL holders disqualified for life may apply for reinstatement after 10 years. To be considered for reinstatement, such an individual must, among other things, voluntarily enroll in, and successfully complete, (1) a substance abuse treatment program established and operated by DMHAS, (2) a program operated through a licensed substance abuse treatment facility, or (3) an equivalent program offered in another state (CGS 14-44k(h)).

Second Degree Manslaughter with a Motor Vehicle (CGS 53a-56b)

A person commits the crime of 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle when, while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any drug, he or she causes the death of another person as a consequence of the effect of the alcohol or drugs. The penalty is a prison term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. The operator's driver's license is suspended for one year and he or she can only operate vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device for two years after completing the suspension period.

Second Degree Assault with a Motor Vehicle (CGS 53a-60d)

A person commits the crime of 2nd degree assault with a motor vehicle, when, while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she causes serious physical injury to another person as a consequence of the effect of alcohol or drugs. The penalty is a prison term of up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. The operator's driver's license is suspended for one year and he or she can only operate vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device for two years after completing the suspension period.

By law, a “serious physical injury” is one that creates a substantial risk of death, or causes serious (1) disfigurement, (2) impairment of health, or (3) loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ (CGS 53a-3(4)).

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