It's a terrible feeling; being pulled over by Connecticut law enforcement officers on suspicion of drunk driving. The offense of drunk driving is popularly called driving under the influence, or DUI, though in Connecticut the charge is Operating Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs, or OUI.
For those who are eventually convicted of OUI in Connecticut, life can be different for quite a while. One of the after-effects for people with an OUI conviction is living with ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicles.
Changes in Connecticut drunk driving law went into effect at the beginning of 2012. Current administrative penalties for OUI vary depending on the driver's age and on how many OUI offenses are on the driver's record.
The Department of Motor Vehicles imposes administrative penalties that affect driving privileges. A first conviction for OUI results in a 45-day license suspension for drivers of all ages. A second conviction merits a suspension for 45 days or until a driver under age 21 reaches the age of 21, whichever is longer. For a third suspension, the DMV revokes the driver's license permanently. When a permanent suspension has been imposed, it is possible to ask for a hearing to lift the suspension after six years have passed.
For those who have less than a one-year suspension, drivers are restricted for one year, permitted to drive only to and from work, school, alcohol or drug treatment sessions or an ignition interlock device service center.
Once a driver has completed the license suspension, driving privileges may be restored, but with a big condition. First-time offenders are required to install an ignition interlock device on their cars and maintain it for one year after the license is restored. After a second offense, the ignition interlock device must be in use for three years.
An ignition interlock device must be installed by an authorized dealer in every car the person convicted of OUI owns or drives. Drivers must first pay a fee of $175 directly to the DMV to restore his or her license. They must then pay the DMV $100 to apply for each ignition interlock installation, and must pay the installer for the cost of each device, installation and subsequent service visits.
Each device must be calibrated at the installer's service center every 30 days. Any driver who fails to bring every vehicle in for calibration will have driving privileges suspended.
A driver's license can also be suspended for behavior attempting to circumvent the ignition interlock device. For example, having someone else blow into the device in order to unlock the ignition and allow the car to start is forbidden.
Besides the license suspension and ignition interlock penalties, OUI offenders can also be fined and incarcerated. It can take years to recover from the effects of a conviction for drunk driving in Connecticut.
With such severe consequences, it is worthwhile for anyone charged with OUI in Connecticut to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney. Everyone who is charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty and deserves a vigorous defense. An attorney who specializes in DUI or OUI defense may be able to defend charges successfully and avoid a conviction or manage to get penalties reduced. It is important to ask for an attorney's advice early on, right after that law enforcement officer pulls the car over.