What penalties may be awarded in a DUI case in Connecticut?

When a drunk driver causes an accident in Connecticut, the court may award the victim punitive damages that are then doubled or tripled.

In any traffic accident in Connecticut, the person who is responsible for causing it may be held liable for the costs associated with the collision. These are typically called actual damages, according to the Connecticut General Assembly's Office of Legislative Research. They include the costs of property damage, pain and suffering, lost wages and medical bills. However, in some cases, the victim may also be eligible to receive punitive damages.

What are punitive damages?

In Understanding the Law, Kenneth Krajewski explains that a civil wrong is an act that causes harm to someone, or the lack of an act to prevent harm. This could include injuries, property damage or even emotional damage. A civil wrong shows a basic lack of respect for another person because it is done either with intention to harm or recklessly without regard to the danger to others. Punitive damages are awarded to the victim of this behavior to punish the wrongdoer.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a civil wrong because it displays reckless disregard for the safety of others and for the law. According to Connecticut statute, a driver with a .08 percent blood alcohol content who operates a motor vehicle is guilty of driving under the influence. The driver of a commercial vehicle has an illegally elevated BAC if it is over .04 percent.

What are double or treble damages?

The Connecticut court system provides jurors with the directive that when considering a car accident case, they may have the option to double or triple the amount of punitive damages that the victim receives. It must involve a situation where it is obvious that the person's actions - such as driving under the influence - puts others at high risk for injuries, property damage or death.

Does insurance cover the cost of punitive damages?

According to Travelers, an American insurance company, anyone in Connecticut who commits a civil wrong and causes harm through intentional or reckless behavior cannot cover the costs of punitive damages with insurance. This is because the award is intended to prevent the person from repeating the action, and allowing it to be paid by his or her insurance company would defeat that purpose.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, DUI-related collisions in Connecticut resulted in 97 fatalities and many more injuries during 2014. By seeking double or treble damages, a victim of a drunk driver may be able to prevent a second offense or deter another's first offense. An auto accident attorney may be able to provide advice on how to proceed to hold the driver responsible.