Sentence Enhancements for DUI in Connecticut
DUI sentences can be enhanced if the defendant is a repeat offender. The statute provides for progressively more severe penalties for the defendant’s second, third, and subsequent offenses. For the first DUI offense, the sentence includes a fine of no less than $500 and no more than $1,000. The fine for a second offense can be an amount between $1,000 and $4,000. For the third and any subsequent offenses, the fine is an amount between $2,000 and $8,000.
Repeat offenders are given longer prison sentences and have fewer alternatives to incarceration. For the first offense, the penalty is up to six months in prison, however, the judge is given discretion. The sentence may be suspended if the defendant performs 100 hours of community service. If the defendant is not permitted to do community service, he must spend at least 48 consecutive hours in prison before the judge may suspend the rest of the sentence. For the second offense, the defendant can be sentenced to prison for up to 2 years. Six months must be served before the defendant’s sentence may be suspended, after which the defendant may be required to do one hundred hours of community service during his probation. For the third and any subsequent offenses, the defendant may be incarcerated for up to three years, one year of which may not be suspended. The defendant will be required to complete 100 hours of community service during the probationary period following release.
Finally, repeat offenders have their licenses suspended for longer periods. The length of suspension is one year for the first and second offense, and the defendant’s license is revoked after the third offense. If the second offense happened while the driver was out of state, the suspension is lengthened to three years. After the second offense, the defendant will be required to maintain an engine interlock device in his car for a period of two years after the end of the suspension.
If the defendant’s license is revoked after his third offense, the statute requires he wait for at least six years before petitioning for it to be returned. The defendant will have to present evidence that he is not a threat to public safety and he will have to install an ignition interlock device into his car. The defendant must continue to use the engine interlock device until 10 years after the revocation of the defendant’s license.
Repeat offenders may be required to attend alcohol and drug addiction programs. The content of the program will be set by the Commissioner for the Department of Motor Vehicles. The offender may obtain a waiver if he has recently undergone substantial treatment for addiction either voluntarily or at the request of another agency. A physician’s report that the offender does not now have an addiction and does not have a significant risk of developing an addiction in the near future may also allow the offender to waive the treatment requirement.
A repeat offender is a defendant who has been convicted of DUI and sentenced within the previous 10 years. Under certain circumstances the court will be permitted to look back further than 10 years. In order for a defendant to be treated as a repeat offender, only one of his previous convictions needs to have occurred with the 10 year window. If one conviction was obtained within the previous 10 years and it is the defendant’s third conviction overall, he may be sentenced to any penalties available to the court when sentencing defendants guilty of their third offense.
A Connecticut court may consider DUI convictions in other states when determining if the defendant qualifies as a repeat offender. In order to consider an out of state conviction, the court must find that the essential elements of DUI in the other state must be “substantially the same” as the elements of DUI in Connecticut. This is an issue of statutory interpretation and cannot be undertaken by a jury.
Another enhancement to the penalties for DUI is imposed if the driver is younger than 21. In this case the defendant’s license is suspended for three years or until his 21st birthday-whichever is longer. The defendant will then be required to install an engine interlock device in his car for the next two years.
Finally, a sentence enhancement may be placed on defendants who commit Manslaughter in the Second Degree with a Motor Vehicle or Assault in the Second Degree with a Motor Vehicle. If a defendant is convicted of either of these crimes and has a prior conviction for drunk driving within the last ten (10) years, the court may enhance the jail sentence the defendant would receive. The enhancement will also be applied if the defendant has prior convictions for Assault in the Second Degree with a Motor Vehicle or Manslaughter in the Second Degree with a Motor Vehicle
The Assault charge is treated as a Class C felony, with a minimum prison sentence of one year and a maximum of ten years. The Manslaughter charge is treated as if it were a Class B felony, with a minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum of 40 years. Only the prison sentences are enhanced. The fines and suspensions imposed are not enhanced.
The State of Connecticut requires that any individual arrested for DUI with a blood alcohol content of at least 0.16 have his license suspended for an extended period. If a driver is arrested for DUI and has a blood alcohol content of less than 0.16, the DMV will suspend his license for ninety (90) days. If the blood alcohol tests indicate a Blood Alcohol content of 0.16 or higher, the suspension will be extended to one hundred and twenty (120) days.
The suspensions for repeat offenders are subject to a similar enhancement. Drivers which commit their second offense can have their license suspended by the DMV for nine months, but the suspension is extended to ten if the blood alcohol content is found to be 0.16 or higher. A third offense is punishable by a suspension of two years, but the suspension is extended to two and one half years if the blood alcohol content is found to be 0.16 or higher.
A second enhancement is used if the driver refuses requests to test for blood alcohol content. If the driver refuses, the DMV is permitted to suspend his license for six months for the first offense, one year for the second, and three years for the third offense.
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