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Connecticut's Underage Drinking and Driving Laws--Beyond Criminal Court

In Connecticut, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs ("DUI") is a crime.  If you are under 21 years of age, you are considered legally intoxicated if you have a .02 Blood Alcohol Content ("BAC") or higher.  Even if you refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test, you can be prosecuted if law enforcement determines that you drove a motor vehicle while your ability to operate was impaired.

In addition to facing criminal charges, you need to be aware of the "collateral consequences" of underage DUI. 

  • When a driver under the age of 21 is arrested for DUI, the arrest gets reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles ("DMV").  Once DMV receives notice of your arrest for DUI, they will send you a letter, notifying you that you are entitled to an administrative hearing.  At this hearing, you can challenge certain issues such as whether you were operating the vehicle, or whether you refused to take a blood, breath or alcohol test.  If you do not appear for the hearing, or you do not prevail at the hearing, you will lose your license for the time period specified in the letter. 
  • If you refuse to submit to a blood, breath or urine test, you face a one year license suspension.  If you submit to a test and the results are .02 or higher, you face a six month suspension of your license; if the test results yield a BAC over .16, you face a 240 day license suspension.  (Note:  These administrative sanctions are separate and apart from whatever happens in criminal court.)
  • Under certain circumstances, underage drivers can get a special operator's permit to drive back and forth for educational purposes.  However, if you drive while your license is suspended for a DUI, and you do not have a work/school permit, or if you drive outside of the confines of that permit, you risk the possibility of mandatory jail time.   
  • Even if your DUI charge eventually gets dismissed in criminal court, if your license was suspended by DMV for a DUI arrest, notice of that license suspension will appear on your driving record for ten years.  This means that if a background check company looks at your motor vehicle record, they will find out that you were arrested for a DUI.   Also, automobile insurance companies periodically conduct background checks into your driving record.  If your insurance provider discovers that you were charged with a DUI, they could increase your rates, refuse to renew--or even cancel--your policy.

These are just some of the issues that arise when an individual under the age of 21 gets arrested for a DUI in Connecticut.  One of the most important things you can do when arrested for a DUI is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.     

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