Topic:
DRUNK DRIVING; TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS; DRIVER LICENSES;
Location:
MOTOR VEHICLES - LICENSES;

OLR Research Report


November 30, 2007

 

2007-R-0636

VIOLATIONS RESULTING IN A SUSPENDED DRIVER'S LICENSE AND PENALTIES FOR DRIVING WHILE UNDER SUSPENSION

By: James J. Fazzalaro, Principal Analyst

You asked for information on what violations of law currently result in suspension of a driver's license. You also wanted to know the penalties for driving with a suspended license and how many such violations occur.

SUMMARY

There are more than 20 statutes violations of which can result in suspension of a driver's license. These range from relatively minor offenses such as paying the driver's license application fee with an uncollectible check to major offenses such as drunk driving, reckless driving, and 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle. A driver's license can also be suspended for failure to make required child support payments. The laws for which a driver's license suspension is a possible penalty are identified in Table 1, along with the period of suspension that may be imposed.

The basic penalty for driving with a suspended driver's license is a fine of $150 to $200, imprisonment for up to 90 days, or both. A repeat offender can be fined $200 to $600, imprisoned for up to one year or both. However, the law also imposes (1) an additional penalty for a repeat violator and (2) higher penalties for someone who drives after having his license suspended when the basis for the suspension was an alcohol-related motor vehicle offense.

Each year, there are about 28,000 cases adjudicated through the Judicial Department involving someone charged with driving while under suspension for the first time. In approximately two-thirds of these cases, the charge is nolled. There are about another 100 cases a year involving a repeat driving under suspension offender. Typically, more than three-quarters of these cases result in an adjudication of guilt, but this dipped to about 43% in FY 2007. Finally, there are approximately 1,200 cases a year where the accused was driving while under suspension for an alcohol-related motor vehicle offense. More than 85% of these cases result in adjudications of guilt. The case statistics for the last five fiscal years are shown in Table 2.

LICENSE SUSPENSION VIOLATIONS

Table 1 lists the law violations for which suspension of a driver's license is one of the penalties. Most suspensions are specified in CGS Sec. 14-111(b). Table 1 identifies the statute that, if violated, leads to the suspension. In addition to the suspensions for these specific law violations, the law also allows the motor vehicle commissioner to suspend someone's license for a indefinite period if the person has been arrested for a felony and has had a warrant issued for re-arrest for failure to appear when called to court. The suspension terminates when the person appears before the court.

The motor vehicle commissioner also has a broad statutory authority under which he may suspend a driver's license or vehicle registration “for any cause that he deems sufficient, with or without a hearing.” (CGS Sec. 14-111(a))

Table 1: Laws Authorizing or Requiring License Suspension

Statute

Offense

Driver's License Suspension Period

14-36g

Violation of passenger restrictions, driving curfew hours, or other restrictions applicable to 16- and 17-year old drivers

Indefinite suspension until 18th birthday for 2nd violation

14-50(f)

Paying driver's license or related fees with uncollectible check

Indefinite period

14-100a

Failure to complete mandatory car seat safety class following child restraint system violation (1st or 2nd violation)

60 days

14-110

14-111(b)

Misrepresentation of identity or other facts on application for driver's license

1st violation—1 year

2nd violation—2 years

Table 1: -Continued-

Statute

Offense

Driver's License Suspension Period

14-111(i)

Prosecution of driver's license applicant for perjury or false statement on license application and case is nolled or a suspended sentence or judgment is entered, and the false statement refers to the name, age, former suspension of, or former conviction of the applicant

30 days plus the period the applicant was in possession of the void license

14-111a

Possession of alcohol in a motor vehicle by a minor

60 days

14-111b

Four or more speeding convictions (14-219) within two-year period

4th conviction—30 days

5th conviction—60 days

6th conviction or more—6 months

14-111f

Possession of counterfeit or altered license containing one's own photograph

60 days

14-111g

Failure to attend or successfully complete driver retraining program when required

Indefinite period

14-137a

Accumulation of driver's license points*

30 days

*Note: Although the law requires the commissioner to establish a driver's license points system, it also prohibits him from assessing license points whenever a violator chooses not to contest and mails the fine in to the Centralized Infractions Bureau

14-140

Failure to appear for trial or court appearance or to pay required fines, fees, and other charges

Indefinite period

14-147(a)

Counterfeiting license, registration, or marker plate; providing or selling any such counterfeit or altered driver's license, registration or marker plate to another person

1st violation—30 days

Subsequent—1 year

14-147(b)

Loan or sale of or improper use of any license, registration or marker plates

1st violation—90 days

Subsequent—5 years

14-147(c)

Use of another's license or registration

1st violation—30 days

Subsequent—1 year

14-213b

Failure to maintain required minimum liability insurance

1st violation—30 days

Subsequent—6 months

14-215

14-111(b)

Driving while license is suspended, revoked, or cancelled

1st violation—1 year

Subsequent—2 years

Note: The penalty doubles for someone who has been issued a special operator's permit allowing driving for employment purposes who commits an offense requiring license suspension and who drives, after having received notice of such suspension.

14-222

Reckless Driving

1st violation—30 days

Subsequent—90 days

Table 1: -Continued-

Statute

Offense

Driver's License Suspension Period

14-223

Fleeing or evading police or roadblock

1st violation—1 year

Subsequent—18 months

14-224(a)

Evading responsibility (hit and run) following involvement in accident that results in fatality or serious injury

1st violation—1 year

Subsequent—2 years

14-224(b)

Evading responsibility (hit and run) following involvement in accident resulting in non-serious physical injury or property damage

90 days

14-224(c)

Racing a motor vehicle on a public road

1st violation—30 days

Subsequent—90 days

14-227a(g)

Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both or with an blood-alcohol level of .08% or more

1st offense—1 year

2nd offense—3 years, except for offenses involving only alcohol use, two years of use of an ignition interlock device may substitute for the second and third year of suspension

3rd offense—permanent revocation. Offender may apply after 6 years for reduction or reinstatement. If reinstated after six years, must operate with an ignition interlock device for the period remaining until 10 years have passed from the original revocation

14-227b

Under age 21

Implied consent to test—administrative per se violation

Test Refusal

1st violation—1 year

2nd violation—2 years

3rd violation—6 years

BAC .02%+

1st violation—180 days

2nd violation—18 months

3rd violation—4 yrs

BAC .16%+

1st violation—240 days

2nd violation—20 months

3rd violation—5 years

14-227b

21 and over

Implied consent to test—administrative per se violation

Test Refusal

1st violation—6 months

2nd violation—1 year

3rd refusal—3 years

BAC .08%+

1st violation—90 days

2nd violation—9 months

3rd violation—2 years

BAC .16%+

1st violation—120 days

2nd violation—10 months

3rd violation—2 years six months

14-227b(k)

Illegal BAC evidence derived from blood sample taken at hospital from driver receiving medical treatment

1st violation—90 days

Subsequent—1 year

Table 1: -Continued-

Statute

Offense

Driver's License Suspension Period

14-227g

Under age 21 convicted or drinking and driving with BAC of .02% or higher

1st offense—1 year

2nd offense—3 years or until age 21, whichever is longer

3rd offense—permanent revocation. Offender may apply after 6 years for reduction or reinstatement. If reinstated after six years, must operate with an ignition interlock device or the period remaining until 10 years have passed from the original revocation.

14-227k

Avoiding the use of, circumventing, or tampering with required ignition interlock device

1 year

14-386a

14-227a(g)

Operating a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle under the influence of alcohol or with a blood-alcohol level of .08% or more

1st offense—1 year

2nd offense—3 years, except for offenses involving only alcohol use, two years of use of an ignition interlock device may substitute for the second and third year of suspension

3rd offense—permanent revocation. Offender may apply after 6 years for reduction or reinstatement. If reinstated after six years, must operate with an ignition interlock device or the period remaining until 10 years have passed from the original revocation.

30-88a

14-111e

Misrepresentation of age or identity or use of license belonging to another for the purpose of procuring alcohol

150 days

30-89(b)(1) 14-111e

Illegal possession of alcohol by minor on public street or highway

60 days

30-89(b)(2) 14-111e

Illegal possession of alcohol by minor in any other public or private location

30 days

46b-220

Failure to make required child support payments

Indefinite period

53a-119b

Using a motor vehicle or vessel without the owner's permission: interfering or tampering with a motor vehicle

1st violation—1 year

Subsequent—2 years

53a-56b

Manslaughter in the 2nd degree with a motor vehicle

1 year

53a-60d

Assault in the 2nd degree with a motor vehicle

1 year

PENALTIES FOR DRIVING WHILE UNDER LICENSE SUSPENSION

General Penalties for Driving While Under Suspension

It is illegal for someone to operate a motor vehicle (1) without having a driver's license or in violation of the terms, classification, or conditions of licensure: or (2) when the driver's license or privilege to operate in Connecticut (if a nonresident) has been suspended or revoked.

The penalties for driving while under license suspension or revocation are graduated based on prior offenses. There is also an enhanced penalty that applies if the basis for the suspension or revocation was for an alcohol-related offense.

The basic penalty for driving with a suspended, revoked, or refused driver's license or vehicle registration is a fine of $150 to $200 imprisonment for up to 90 days, or both, for a first offense and, for any subsequent offense, a fine of $200 to $600, imprisonment for up to one year, or both (CGS 14-215(b)(1)).

In addition to these penalties, if someone has previously either driven while under license suspension or without a license or in violation of license terms an additional penalty applies. Someone who has violated either of these laws before must either be fined an additional amount up to $500 or sentenced to up to 100 hours of community service. If someone has violated either of these laws at least twice before, or both at least once before, he must be sentenced to up to one year in prison, 90 days of which cannot be suspended or reduced. Thus for purposes of assessing this additional penalty, unlicensed operation and operation while under suspension are viewed interchangeably. This is because there have been instances where someone whose license has been suspended has chosen to drive without reinstating the license even though the suspension has expired.

License Suspensions Based on Alcohol-Related Offenses

A higher penalty applies if someone is caught driving while under license suspension and the reason for the suspension was an alcohol-related driving offense. The offenses to which this higher penalty applies include (1) driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both (CGS 14-227a); (2) driving while under an administrative per se license suspension for refusing a BAC test or consenting to a test with results showing an elevated BAC (14-227b); (3) manslaughter in the 2nd degree with a motor vehicle (CGS 53a-56b); or (4) assault in the 2nd degree with a motor vehicle (CGS 53a-60d). In the last two cases, the elements of the crime include causing the death or serious physical injury of another while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs when this death or injury is found to have been a consequence of the effect of the alcohol or drug.

The criminal penalties for driving while under suspension for an alcohol-related offense are shown below (CGS 14-215(c) as amended by PA 07-167).

● First Offense—$500 to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to one year with a mandatory minimum of 30 days unless the court determines there are mitigating circumstances.

● Second Offense—$500 to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to two years with a mandatory minimum of 120 consecutive days in prison in the absence of mitigating circumstances.

● Third or Subsequent Offense—$500 to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to three years with a mandatory minimum of one year in prison in the absence of mitigating circumstances

VIOLATIONS FOR DRIVING WHILE UNDER SUSPENSION

Table 2 shows the number of cases involving violations of CGS Sec. 14-215 for the last five fiscal years and the dispositions of the cases. The data comes from the Judicial Department's case database as provided to the Office of Fiscal Analysis.

In the table, the column indicating the number of convictions shows the aggregate of several categories including jury conviction, conviction by a judge's decision, pleas, and bond forfeiture. The number of cases is also an aggregation of offenses that are coded in several ways in the database. The data indicates that in more than two-thirds of the first offense cases, the charge is nolled (ranging from 65.5% nolled in 2003 to 72.4% nolled in 2007. Over the five years, the average number of first offense cases reaching the Judicial Department was 27,765. There were about 100 cases per year over the last three years involving repeat offenders and an average of 1,234 cases involving drivers whose suspension was for an alcohol-related offense.

Table 2: Cases and Case Dispositions for Violations of

CGS 14-215 for Driving While Registration or License is Suspended, Revoked, or Refused

FY 2003-FY 2007

First Offenders

Offenses

Guilty

Failure to Appear for Trial

Not

Guilty

Charge Nolled

FY 2007

26,940

3,357

4,079

4

19,500

FY 2006

27,971

4,042

4,106

4

19,819

FY 2005

29,011

4,243

4,628

4

20,136

FY 2004

28,983

4,691

4,811

6

19,475

FY 2003

25,919

5,164

3,779

6

16,970

Repeat Offenders

Offenses

Guilty

Failure to Appear for Trial

Not

Guilty

Charge Nolled

FY 2007

115

49

7

0

59

FY 2006

110

73

7

0

30

FY 2005

101

87

0

0

9

FY 2004

49

40

0

0

9

FY 2003

34

27

0

0

7

Alcohol-Related Suspension Offenders

Offenses

Guilty

Failure to Appear for Trial

Not

Guilty

Charge Nolled

FY 2007

1,176

1,023

12

0

141

FY 2006

1,200

1,059

7

0

134

FY 2005

1,251

1,111

10

0

130

FY 2004

1,283

1,184

7

0

92

FY 2003

1,262

1,129

6

0

127

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