Like the majority of U.S. states, Connecticut uses an at-fault system. That means the driver who is determined to be at fault in an accident is responsible for property and bodily injury damages. Connecticut abides by modified comparative negligence laws; which means an accident victim is only compensated if their degree of fault is less than 50 percent. If they’re any percentage at fault, their compensation is reduced by their degree of fault.
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can cover bodily injury and property damage. If the other party is uninsured, you will receive reimbursement. Unfortunately, if you’re an accident victim, you can’t stack coverage within single and multiple policies.1 Stacking consists of combining coverage limits for several vehicles.
In Connecticut, it is a criminal offense to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of more than 0.08 percent. If the driver is under age 21, the BAC limit is 0.02 percent.
If you are caught drunk driving in Connecticut, you will face a number of penalties, up to and including jail time. The severity will depend on the circumstances of each particular case and the number of previous offenses that you have. The penalties upon conviction are as follows:
||Interlock device requirement
||Hours of community service
||6 months maximum
||120 days to 2 years
||3 years (or 2 years if under 21)
||Permanent driver’s license revocation
Connecticut has a 10-year washout or look-back period, which means that a DUI will stay on your record for 10 years. A first-time offender charged with a DUI may apply to the court for admission to the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program. The applicant must state under oath that they have not been in the program within the previous 10 years. The court will dismiss DUI charges if the driver completes the program satisfactorily.
Seat Belt Laws
Connecticut has primary seat belt laws, which allow law enforcement officers to ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt without any other traffic infraction taking place. Drivers and front-seat passengers must wear safety belts at all times. Additionally, all passengers ages 4 to 16 in the back seat need to wear safety belts. Fines for adults who don’t wear seat belts start at $92.
Distracted Driving Laws
In Connecticut, it is illegal to use any handheld mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who are 16 or 17 years old can’t use cell phones or mobile devices at any time, even hands-free accessories. Penalties include $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense, and $500 for each subsequent offense. If you’re driving distracted and receive fines for offenses, you may receive demerit points on your driving record, which could lead to a license suspension.3
Teen Driver Laws
||Cell phone restrictions
||Can’t have any passengers except for licensed driving instructor, parents, or legal guardian (all wearing permanently installed seat belts)
||Must be accompanied by someone at least 20 who’s had a driver’s license for 4 or more consecutive years
||Can’t use any mobile electronic devices
||Under 18: Can only drive with parents, guardians, or licensed adults at least 20, with no other passengers
After 18: Can drive with any passengers
|Under age 18: Can’t drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless it is for employment, school, religious activities, or a medical emergency
||First 6 months: Can only drive with parents or legal guardian, at least 1 of whom holds a valid driver’s license
Next 6 months: Can drive with immediate family
|Can’t use any mobile electronic devices
Statute of Limitations for Claims
The statute of limitations for auto insurance claims in Connecticut is two years for both property damage and personal injury claims. If an accident or injury leading to wrongful death occurred, you can’t file a claim after more than five years.4
Cancellation and Non-Renewal Notification Laws
Auto insurance companies cannot cancel policies that have been in force for over 60 days except under the following circumstances:
- You didn’t pay your premium.
- You committed fraud or misrepresentation on your application.
- Your driver’s license has been revoked or suspended.
Non-renewal occurs when your company decides not to renew your policy once it expires. Insurance companies must give you notice and explain the reason before they drop your coverage. Reasons may be because they no longer offer that type of insurance, they don’t want to write as many policies in your area, or because you have been convicted of a DUI.5
Companies need to notify you of the following cancellations and non-renewals within a certain number of days prior to your expiration date.
- Midterm cancellation: 45 days
- Midterm cancellation due to nonpayment: 15 days for the first premium, 10 days for the second premium, and after
- Non-renewal: 60 days6
Connecticut allows drivers to self-insure (meaning they purchase bonds instead of car insurance) at the discretion of the insurance commissioner. You must prove that your self-insurance meets the minimum state requirements for auto insurance to be approved.
How Often Do You Have to Get Your Car Inspected in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, you are required to get an emissions test for most vehicles every two years. To register certain motor vehicles such as pickup trucks or motorcycles, you will also need a vehicle identification number (VIN) verification.
For the emissions test, you’ll receive a letter from the DMV 45 days before your vehicle is due for an emissions test. If you have a diesel vehicle, it may require exhaust emissions inspections through the DMV’s commercial vehicle safety inspection.
The emissions test for your vehicle requires the following inspections:
- On-board diagnostic (OBD)
- Pre-Conditioned Two-Speed Idle (PC-TSI)
- Gas cap pressure leak test
These are the exceptions that means your vehicle doesn’t require an emissions inspection:
- Vehicles younger than four model years old
- Vehicles with a gross weight of more than 10,001 pounds
- Model year 1996 and older vehicles
- Composite vehicles
- Electric-powered or non-hybrid vehicles
- Bicycles with motors
- Motorcycles and farm vehicles
- Vehicles not designed for highways
- Diesel school buses
- Vehicles with dealer, repairer, or transporter plates7
Call 1-877-4MYC-TVIP or visit https://www.ctemissions.com/FindATestCenter to find locations for your emissions inspection. Emissions tests cost $20 at privately owned automotive service facilities located throughout the state.
If you have a car, pickup truck, or motorcycle that was registered in another state, you will need a VIN verification to register your motor vehicle in Connecticut. You can find a VIN Verification Station at https://ctemissions.com/VINVerifications.
An SR-22, or certificate of financial responsibility, proves you meet the minimum state requirements for auto liability insurance. Drivers need SR-22s after being convicted of serious traffic violations, such as any of the following:
- Driving without insurance
- A DUI or DWI
- Reckless driving
- Refusing a breathalyzer
- Repeated traffic violations
- At-fault accidents causing injuries or death
These drivers are considered high-risk and need to maintain their SR-22 filing statuses for one year following their license reinstatements. Additionally, their insurance rate will vary based on the violations and the severity of the accident. The cost of an SR-22 is approximately $25 in Connecticut.