There are many things to know about DUI laws, or as they’re referred to in Connecticut, OUI, or “Operating Under the Influence” laws. Even for adults with great driving records, getting an OUI can result in serious legal consequences, including license suspension and jail time. Getting an OUI while you’re still underage, meanwhile, may result in even harsher penalties.
But what happens if you get an OUI and you’re both unlicensed and underage? The situation may seem dire, but you shouldn’t lose hope. If you or someone you know is a minor who’s gotten a DUI and can’t legally drive yet, the most important thing to do is prepare yourself for what comes next.
Driving without a license is illegal in every state, including Connecticut, but penalties for driving without a license automatically become more severe when you are arrested for an OUI. Driving without a license on top of being intoxicated is seen as an “aggregating factor”— something that makes the offense additionally serious. This can lead to a charge of “aggravated reckless driving,” which in turn can upgrade an OUI from a misdemeanor to a felony, incurring heavier fines and penalties, or even jail time. Those convicted of aggravated reckless driving are also usually not allowed to apply for a driver’s license for a specific period of time, sometimes up to 5 years.
Compounded with Being Underage
Usually, an OUI results in a case where someone has a blood alcohol content or “BAC” over .08%. Connecticut has virtually no tolerance for underage drinking and driving though, and those caught behind the wheel who aren’t yet 21 need only have a BAC of .02% to be charged with an OUI. In fact, underage drinking alone can result in a suspended license within the state, whether the defendant got behind the wheel or not. This makes the decision for unlicensed, underage drivers to drink and drive even more serious. If you are under 21 and caught drinking and driving without a license, at minimum you should be prepared for:
- The car in question to be towed.
- Criminal proceedings in a court of law.
- Administrative proceedings within the DMV.
- Fines totaling over $1000.
- Possible jail time, up to a year or more.
- A period barring you from obtaining a license.
- Mandated use of an IIG (ignition interlock device) even after you are allowed to obtain your license.
In some cases, underage drivers may be able to argue for participation in a Pretrial Alcohol Education Program, or AEP, which requires 10-15 alcohol intervention sessions, fees up to $750, and a cost of $75 to attend a Victim Impact Panel.
No matter what the legal consequences are, getting an OUI as an unlicensed minor is an extremely difficult situation. That’s why having attorneys on your side to prepare you for what comes next and argue for you in court is essential.
Call The Sills Law Firm at (860) 524-8118 or contact us online today to speak with a Connecticut DUI defense attorney at our office. With 45 years of collective experience serving clients across Connecticut, we have the criminal defense resources you need to successfully fight your charges.