PA 05-215—sHB 6882

Judiciary Committee

Transportation Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PENALTY FOR OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE WITHOUT AN OPERATOR'S LICENSE AND DURING AND AFTER A PERIOD OF LICENSE SUSPENSION, THE LENGTH OF LICENSE SUSPENSION AND THE ELIGIBILITY FOR A SPECIAL OPERATOR'S LICENSE

SUMMARY: This act establishes penalties for operating a motor vehicle without obtaining a reinstatement of a license after the suspension period has expired. Under prior law, such violators were apparently subject to the penalties for operating with a suspended license.

The act reduces the mandatory license suspension periods for a second offense from at least five to at least two years for certain motor vehicle offenses. It specifies that this reduction applies to any suspension that occurred on or after October 1, 2000.

The act imposes additional penalties for certain people convicted of operating a motor vehicle without first obtaining a license, violating a condition of a conditional license, or operating a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license or registration, or with a refused license.

The act allows someone whose license was permanently revoked for a third conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) to, at any time after 10 years from the revocation date, apply to the motor vehicles commissioner for a reversal or reduction of the revocation.

The law requires an administrative license suspension process for drivers who refuse to submit to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test or whose test results indicate an elevated BAC (. 08% or more or . 02% or more if the driver is under age 21). The act doubles the license suspension periods if the offender is under age 21.

The act makes people ineligible for a special driving permit that allows certain work-related driving if they have been previously convicted of DUI. But it specifies that a person is not ineligible solely for being convicted of two DUI violations unless the second conviction is for a violation committed after a prior conviction.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2005, except for the provision that doubles the license suspension for drivers under age 21, which is effective January 1, 2006, and the provision concerning special licenses, which is effective upon passage.

OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE WITHOUT OBTAINING A REINSTATEMENT OF A LICENSE ( 1)

Under the act, anyone whose motor vehicle license has been suspended and who operates a motor vehicle after the suspension period has expired without obtaining a license reinstatement:

1. during the first 60 days after the expiration commits an infraction, which carries a $75 fine, and

2. after the 60-day period, for a first offense, commits an infraction (the fine plus fees is $158), and for a second offense, must be fined from $250 to $350, be imprisoned up to 30 days, or both.

The act specifies that someone charged with this offense may not also be prosecuted for operating a motor vehicle while his license is suspended. That offense generally carries a penalty for a first offense of a $150 to $200 fine, a prison term of up to 90 days, or both, and for any subsequent offense, a fine of $200 to $600, a prison term of up to one year, or both.

REDUCTION OF LICENSE SUSPENSION PERIODS FOR CERTAIN SECOND OFFENDERS ( 2)

The act reduces the mandatory license suspension period from at least five years to at least two years for people convicted for the second time of:

1. evading responsibility (CGS 14-224),

2. swearing or affirming falsely to the motor vehicles commissioner regarding enforcement of the motor vehicle laws (CGS 14-110),

3. operating a motor vehicle with a suspended registration or license (CGS 14-215), and

4. using a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission or tampering with a motor vehicle (CGS 53a-119b).

The act specifies that the reduction applies to any suspension that occurred on or after October 1, 2000.

OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE WITHOUT OBTAINING A LICENSE OR IN VIOLATION OF A LIMITED LICENSE ( 3)

By law, no one:

1. may operate a motor vehicle on any public highway of this state or on a private road on which a speed limit has been established until he has obtained a motor vehicle operator’s license, or

2. having been issued a limited license, may operate (a) a motor vehicle in violation of the limitations imposed by the license or (b) any motor vehicle other than the motor vehicle for which his right to operate is limited.

Anyone who violates this law, for a first offense, commits an infraction (the fine is $75), and for any subsequent offense, is subject to a fine of $250 to $350, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both.

The act imposes additional penalties for certain violators. Under the act:

1. anyone who has either violated this law before, or committed the offense of operating a motor vehicle while his registration or license is refused, suspended, or revoked is subject to an additional fine of up to $500 or up to 100 hours of community service, and

2. anyone who has committed either of these offenses at least twice before, or each one at least once before, must be given the additional mandatory sentence of 90 days in prison.

OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE WITH A SUSPENDED OR REVOKED LICENSE OR REGISTRATION ( 4)

By law, anyone who operates a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license or registration or with a license that has been refused is subject:

1. for a first offense, to a fine of $150 to $200, up to 90 days in prison, or both and

2. for any subsequent offense, to a fine of $200 to $600, up to one year in prison, or both.

The act imposes additional penalties for certain violators. Under the act:

1. anyone who has either violated this law before, or committed the offense of operating a motor vehicle without first obtaining a license, is subject to an additional fine of up to $500, or up to 100 hours of community service and

2. anyone who has committed either of these offenses at least twice before, or each one at least once before, must be given the additional mandatory sentence of 90 days in prison.

These additional penalties do not apply to people who were driving with a suspended or revoked license on account of violating the driving under the influence or the implied consent law or being convicted of manslaughter in the second degree with a motor vehicle or assault in the second degree with a motor vehicle. By law, unchanged by the act, these people are subject to a fine of between $500 and $1,000 and imprisonment of up to one year. In the absence of any mitigating circumstances as determined by the court, 30 consecutive days of the sentence imposed may not be suspended or reduced. The court must specifically state the mitigating circumstances in writing for the record.

APPLICATION TO MOTOR VEHICLES COMMISSIONER TO REVERSE OR REDUCE LICENSE REVOCATION FOR DUI ( 5)

The act allows someone whose license was permanently revoked for a third conviction for DUI to, at any time after 10 years from the revocation date, apply to the motor vehicles commissioner for a reversal or reduction of the revocation. The application must be in writing and specify the reasons why the applicant believes he is entitled to a reversal or reduction. The commissioner must consider the application and the applicant’s driver control record, and may grant a hearing.

ADMINISTRATIVE LICENSE SUSPENSIONS ( 6)

The law requires an administrative license suspension process for drivers who refuse to submit to a blood alcohol test or whose test results indicate an elevated BAC (. 08% or more or . 02% or more if he is under age 21). Table 1 specifies the penalties.

Table 1: Administrative Per Se License Suspension Periods

Per Se Offense

First Offense

Second Offense

Third or Subsequent Offense

Test Refused

6 months

One year

3 years

BAC of:

. 08% or more

. 02% or more if under age 21

90 days

9 months

2 years

BAC of . 16% or more

120 days

10 months

2 years,

six months

The act doubles these administrative license suspension periods if the offender is under age 21.

WORK-ONLY DRIVERS’ PERMITS ( 7)

By law, anyone who has had a driver’s license suspended may apply for a special driving permit that allows certain work-related driving. Such a permit may not be granted to a person (1) with a previous suspension; (2) who operated a vehicle while under suspension; (3) who failed to appear for trial; or (4) under suspension for refusing to submit to a DUI blood, breath, or urine test until at least 90 days of his mandatory six-month suspension has run.

The act makes people ineligible if they have been previously convicted of DUI. But the act specifies that a person is not ineligible solely on the basis of being convicted of two DUI violations unless the second conviction is for a violation committed after a prior conviction.

BACKGROUND

Related Law — License Reinstatement

Any person whose operator’s license or right to operate a motor vehicle in this state has been suspended or revoked by the commissioner of motor vehicles must pay a restoration fee of $125 (CGS 14-50b).

Driving Under the Influence or with an “Elevated” BAC

The law prohibits driving (1) while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or (2) with an “elevated blood alcohol content. ” A person is “under the influence” if his ability to drive is affected to an appreciable degree (Infield v. Sullivan, 151 Conn. 506 (1964)). This may be prosecuted with or without any direct evidence of his BAC. A person has an “elevated blood alcohol content” if his BAC is . 08% alcohol by weight or above. The law also makes it illegal for someone under age 21 to drive with a BAC of . 02% or more. While this is defined under a different statute (CGS 14-227g), most of the criminal drunk driving provisions apply by reference to anyone under age 21 violating the prohibition.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)-Criminal Penalties

A person convicted of DUI is subject to the criminal penalties listed in Table 2.

Table 2: DUI Criminal Penalties

Conviction

Jail Sentence

Fine

License Suspension

First

Either (a) up to six months with a mandatory minimum of two days or (b) up to six months suspended with probation requiring 100 hours of community service

$500- $1,000

One year

Second

Up to two years, with a mandatory minimum of 120 consecutive days and probation with 100 hours community service

$1,000- $4,000

Three years (or until age 21 if longer)

Third and Subsequent

Up to three years, with mandatory minimum of one year and probation with 100 hours community service

$2,000- $8,000

Permanent Revocation

In assessing these penalties, the law considers as a subsequent conviction one that occurs within 10 years of a prior conviction for the same offense. Also, any conviction that occurs in another state for an offense that the court determines has “substantially the same” essential elements as Connecticut’s criminal drunk driving offenses, manslaughter in the 2nd degree with a motor vehicle, or assault in the 2nd degree with a motor vehicle will constitute a prior conviction of the same offense for purposes of determining someone’s prior criminal history. (Second degree manslaughter or assault with a motor vehicle involves driving while under the influence of liquor or drugs. )