The commissioner may start a license suspension within thirty days from notice of the arrest as long as the driver has not:
- Previously received suspension for a DUI conviction within the past 10 years preceding the current arrest; or
- Caused car accident involved in a fatality.
In the case of a person who has a prior DUI driver’s license suspension or involved in a fatal accident, the commissioner may suspend the ability to drive on any date, including immediately. Regardless of what happens, a driver has the right to an administrative hearing before the DMV. If there is no prior DUI suspension or involvement in a fatal accident, the hearing must occur before the suspension begins. When the DMV does sends the documentation, it is important that the driver contact the DMV. They must contact no later than seven days after the DMV mails the suspension notice. If there is a prior DUI related suspension or a fatal accident, the DMV hearing can occur after the suspension, but not more than thirty days after the person contacts the DMV to schedule the hearing.
The issues decided at the DMV hearing include:
- Did the police officer have probable cause to make the arrest?
- Was the driver arrested?
- Were they driving?
- Did the driver refuse the test or have an elevated BAC?
In the case when test results come from an injured driver, an additional issue enters into the hearing. The hearing has to determine whether the test results obtained work as evidence. If the answer to any of the previous questions listed above is ‘no’, the DMV has to return the license to the driver.
But, if the answer to all of the questions is ‘yes’, the driver’s license is suspended according to the suspension periods listed below:
- First offense
- BAC of .08% or more = 90 day suspension.
- BAC of 16% or more = 120 day suspension.
- Refusal of test = six month suspension.
- Second offense
- BAC of .08% or more = nine month suspension.
- BAC of .16% or more = 10 month suspension.
- Refusal of test = one year suspension.
- Third or subsequent offense
- BAC of .08% or more = two year suspension.
- .16% or more, = two ½ years suspension.
- Refusal of test = three year suspension.
The test refusal penalties also apply to a person who takes the initial breath testing device but refuses to take a second test. The penalties listed above don’t apply to someone whose physical condition makes such tests medically inadvisable. These administrative license suspension penalties act in addition to any suspension penalties imposed because of a conviction on criminal DUI charges.
Drivers under the age of 21 who don’t contact DMV for a hearing, or fail to show up for a scheduled hearing can have a license suspension twice as long as otherwise. The laws of Connecticut make the driver’s license suspension even longer for 16 and 17-year olds. The suspension for a first per se violation by a person aged 16 or 17 is one year. This suspension is for a driver that submitted to a BAC test in which the driver’s BAC was over .02%. If the driver refused the test the suspension period lasts for 18 months.
Commercial Driver’s License holders who commit two or more of certain motor vehicle offenses, including DUI, are disqualified for life from driving a commercial motor vehicle. Connecticut law now requires that in order to be eligible for reinstatement of their license, disqualified CDL holders have to voluntarily enroll in, and successfully complete the following:
- A substance abuse treatment program established and operated by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).
- A program operated through a licensed substance abuse treatment facility, or
- An equivalent program offered in another state.
As was the law prior, CDL holders have to wait 10 full calendar years for reinstatement.
A driver with a suspended license is subject to a fine between $500 and $1,000 and imprisonment of up to one year if their license was suspended for:
- Second degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle.
- Second degree assault with a motor vehicle.
- Refusing to submit to a BAC test or
- A BAC test that is elevated above the legal limit.
Also, the offense of operating under suspension carries a 30-day mandatory minimum jail term unless there are mitigating circumstances. A driver who operates a motor vehicle while the driver’s license is suspended for a second violation of operating under suspension is subject to:
- $500 to $1,000 fine.
- Imprisonment for up to two years.
- 120 days of which cannot be suspended unless the court specifies mitigating circumstances.
Any driver who drives a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended for a third time for operating under suspension is subject to:
- $500 to $1,000 fine.
- Imprisonment for up to three years.
- One year of which cannot be suspended unless the court specifies mitigating circumstances.
The judge has to specify whatever mitigating circumstances, or lack of, in writing.
By Connecticut law, any driver who has had a driver’s license suspended, with special exceptions, can apply for a driving permit that allows certain work or education related driving during the suspension period.