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Sorrentino Legal | Connecticut CT DUI Defense Lawyer

Operation Under the Influence Law in Connecticut

(Connecticut General Statutes C.G.S. 14-227a)

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Connecticut CT DUI Lawyer

Operating Under the Influence (OUI), more commonly referred to as DUI, is defined as operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under influence of alcohol, drugs, or both.

The state can prosecute you with or without direct evidence of intoxication, although there is a legal presumption that you are DUI if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), is 0.08 or higher. If you are under 21 years of age, you are legally presumed to be DUI if your BAC is 0.02 or higher.

Other Factors Affecting Driving Impairment

The amount of alcohol you drink is not the only thing that affects impairment while driving. Some other factors that affect impairment include:

  • Synergistic effects when alcohol is combined with other substances, including drugs even prescription or over-the-counter medications.
  • You emotional state can contribute to greater impairment.
  • Alcohol tolerance and other psychological factors such as BMI or your body's unique ability to metabolize alcohol.

Implied Consent

Connecticut has implied consent laws meaning that this state considers driving a privilege—not a right—and thus every driver in the state has (impliedly) consented to submit to a chemical test, i.e. blood, breath, or urine, when suspected of DUI by virtue of driving on Connecticut public roads.

Prosecution of CGS Sec. 14-227(a) DUI

DUI is codified in Connecticut General Statutes Section 14-227a. In order to be convicted of DUI / OUI in Connecticut, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt (BARD) that:[1]

(1) You were operating a motor vehicle; AND

(2) That you were either:

  • Under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drug, or both, OR
  • You were operating with an elevated BAC.
CT DUI lawyer


Operation of a motor vehicle is defined as any intentional act that makes use of any
mechanical or electrical instrumentality that will set in motion the vehicle's motor. To that end, it is not required that the car is moving or that the engine is even running. The Connecticut Supreme Court has concluded that merely inserting the key into the ignition is sufficient to constitute the ‘‘operation'' of a motor vehicle. State v. Haight, 279 Conn. 546 (2006).

Elevated BAC or 'Per Se' DUI Violation

The law presumes legal intoxication if, while operating a motor vehicle, you have an “elevated BAC.” Whether or not you have an elevated BAC depends on the circumstances.

If you are an adult of legal drinking age, without a prior DUI, the law presumes that you legally intoxicated if you have a BAC of 0.08 or higher while operating a motor vehicle. If twenty-one (21) years of age and operating a commercial vehicle, legal intoxication is presumed when the driver has a BAC of 0.04 or higher. For any driver under twenty-one (21) years of age, you are presumed to be OUI/DUI if operating with a BAC 0f 0.02 or higher.

Age of Driver

Blood Alcohol Level

Vehicle Type

21 or >



21 or >


Commercial vehicle

Under 21



'Under the Influence'

Under the influence is legally defined as the impairment of one's physical or mental capacity to the point where one can no longer drive their vehicle as a reasonably cautious and sober person under the same of similar circumstances. Relevant factors include the manner in which the defendant operated their vehicle and performance on field sobriety tests.

The most relevant inquiry for police investigating DUI / OUI is whether the driver exhibits objective signs of impairment. Even if you are not operating a vehicle, but were still under the legal limit for presumptive intoxication, you can still be convicted of DUI / OUI so long as the state can prove that you were still “under the influence,” which can be very subjective. This is sometimes referred to as a "behavioral violation"  as opposed to the elevated BAC "per se" violation. The state will rely on the arresting officer's testimony that he observed objective signs of intoxication which reasonably left the officer to believe that you under the influence. Some of those objective signs might include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Red, blood-shot, or watery eyes
  • Alcoholic odor
  • Inability to follow officer's directions
  • Inability to balance or poor motor skill function
  • Poor performance on Field Sobriety Tests

Possible OUI/DUI Defenses

At the Law Offices of Bradley L. Sorrentino, we know the best legal defenses to DUI / OUI in Connecticut. Some possible defenses you could raise are the following:

  • The state did not prove BARD that you were actually operating the motor vehicle even if you were intoxicated.
  • The state failed to prove BARD that you were operating with an elevated BAC or that you were under the influence.
  • The police violated your 4th Amendment rights when they pulled you over.

Pre-Trial Alcohol Education Program

If you have no prior DUI arrests or convictions within the last ten (10) years, you could qualify for this program, which after 10-15 sessions (usually once per week) in a state-approved outpatient treatment program or (“DUI school”) will allow to get the case dismissed and avoid a criminal conviction. In order for the court to approve you for this program, your lawyer must demonstrate good cause.

However, you are not eligible for this program if:

  • (1) You had a commercial license OR were operating a commercial vehicle when DUI;
  • (2) Were convicted of DUI within the last 10 years.

Punishment and Sentencing for DUI / OUI in Connecticut

A DUI / OUI is generally a misdemeanor in Connecticut, however certain aggravating factors can elevate the crime of DUI to a felony. If convicted of a first offense misdemeanor DUI you will face the following penalties:

  • A fine between $500-1,000;
  • 0-6 months in jail (suspended sentence upon successful completion 100 hours of community service and other conditions of probation);
  • 45-day license suspension;
  • Installation Ignition Interlock device (IID) after restoration of license for a period for 1-year;
  • Alcohol education and outpatient treatment program

The penalties for DUI / OUI increase severely for subsequent offenses. In fact, the Connecticut Supreme Court has held that a second DUI conviction within a ten-year period is a felony. See McCoy v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 300 Conn. 144 (2011).

Here are the sentencing guidelines for multiple DUI convictions in Connecticut:

Number of Convictions

Penalties You Face

1st Conviction: 

(Class C Misdemeanor)

  • 48 hours to 6 months in jail OR 100 hours of community service; probation
  • $500-1000 fine; AND
  • 1-year license suspension; AND
  • Installation of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) 6 months (1 year if under 21 years of age OR refusal) following restoration of license with restricted driving to and from school, work, alcohol education program, or ignition interlock service center; AND
  • Probation

2nd Conviction:

(Unclassified Felony)

  • 120 days to 2 years in prison AND
  • $1000-4000 fine; AND
  • 100 hours of community service; AND
  • 3 year license suspension or until 21st birthday (whichever is longer); AND
  • Installation of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) 1 year (2 years if under 21 years of age OR refusal) following restoration of license with restricted driving to and from school, work, alcohol education program, or ignition interlock service center; AND
  • Probation

3rd + Conviction:

(Unclassified Felony)

  • 1 year to 3 years in prison; AND
  • $2,000-8,000; AND
  • 100 hours of community service; AND
  • Permanent revocation of license; AND
  • Probation

Other Factors Considered in Sentencing for DUI Conviction

There are several other factors the judge will consider when sentencing someone arrested and convicted of DUI. Some of those factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Whether you caused an accident because you were DUI.
  • Whether anyone was injured or killed because of the DUI-related accident.
  • Whether you caused any property damage in the course of DUI
  • Whether or not you have any prior DUI convictions in the past ten (10) years.
  • You blood alcohol level BAC at the time your arrested for DUI
  • If there was a child in the vehicle with you.
  • The judge sentencing you—some judges take a more punitive approach whereas others might be more sympathetic if you have a substance abuse problem.

Other Related Crimes:

Arrested for DUI? Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation.

Therefore, it is important that you speak to a Connecticut DUI attorney today if you're arrested for DUI / OUI in Madison, Branford, Guilford, New Haven, Milford, Hamden, Stamford, Fairfield, or anywhere in Connecticut, who can help you navigate the law and get you the best result possible. Contact us today by calling (203) 518-8010 or try our free online case evaluation.


 [1] https://jud.ct.gov/Ji/criminal/Criminal.pdf

[1] McCoy v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 300 Conn. 144 (2011)

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

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