Similarities and Differences Between Connecticut Drug DUI and Alcohol DUI

Facing a DUI in Connecticut can be an overwhelming process. You will likely find a lot of information about DUIs online, but most of this information pertains to driving under the influence of alcohol. However, Connecticut statute defines driving under the influence as pertaining to alcohol or drugs. If you are charged with a drug DUI, you might not be able to find the information that you need online, since this type of DUI is less common. Still, drug DUIs are on the rise, and it is important to get the right information about them. Here, I will discuss the drug DUI in more detail, and explain how it is similar to and different from the alcohol DUI.

Drug and Alcohol DUI Similarities

While there are some important differences to note regarding the drug and the alcohol DUI, there are a few similarities to be aware of as well. First and most importantly, there is no legal distinction between the drug and alcohol DUI. Both are defined the same way, prosecuted the same way, and they are punished the same way.

Connecticut’s DUI law prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle “under the influence of alcohol or drugs.” Being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, will result in the same charge and potential penalties. Whatever substance is involved, the court needs to prove that the driver was under the influence, which subsequently affected their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

If convicted of a DUI, the penalties are the same, whether a person was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This includes a combination of fines, license suspension, and jail time, depending on the particulars of the situation as well as the number of previous offenses.

For example, a first offense will result in a jail sentence of up to six months, a fine of $500-$1,000, and a license suspension of 45 days, followed by use of an ignition interlock device for one year. Penalties become more severe for subsequent offenses, and the DMV can impose an additional driving suspension that is separate from the criminal one.

Drug and Alcohol DUI Differences

There are two major differences when defending a drug DUI vs. an alcohol DUI. The first is how blood alcohol content (BAC) and sobriety tests play a role in arrest/prosecution, and the second is the issue of additional charges.

When a person is charged with a DUI, the state tries to prove that their blood alcohol content is over the legal limit (.08). However, if a person is under the influence of another substance, this might not affect their BAC. It can be difficult to prove how much of a different substance affects a person’s driving. This can be used as a defense against the charge.

In addition, traditional field sobriety tests might not apply in a drug DUI. A police officer will ask to administer field sobriety tests when you are pulled over. These tests are generally used as evidence of your state of mind during a trial. The prosecution will try to use the results of the tests to convict you of driving under the influence. However, these tests are designed to determine if a person is drunk – not if they are under the influence of another drug. These tests might not apply to your case.

Finally, because many drugs are illegal substances, you might face additional charges if you are pulled over for a DUI. You might be charged with possession, intent to sell, etc. Dealing with multiple charges can make your case more difficult.

Getting Help

If you are charged with a DUI, you need the help of someone who knows how to defend your case. Each situation is different, and if you face a drug DUI, standard DUI defenses may not apply to your case. To get the help that you need, please contact my office.


My name is Teresa, and I am a DUI lawyer, but that is only part of who I am. I have been practicing law in Connecticut since 2006.


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