July 11, 2008
PRE-TRIAL ALCOHOL PROGRAM
By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney
You asked what happens to police, court, and prosecution records, including fingerprints and photographs, when the subject of the records successfully completes the pre-trial alcohol program.
The pre-trial alcohol education system is a pre-trial diversionary program for drivers charged with operating a motor vehicle or boat under the influence (DUI) who are referred by the Judicial Department's Court Support Services Division. The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) administers the program. A Judicial Branch publication, A Guide to Special Sessions and Diversionary Programs in Connecticut (available at http://www.jud.ct.gov/Publications/CR137P.pdf), provides detailed information on this and other diversionary programs.
People who successfully complete the program can apply to have the DUI charges dismissed. The court can also dismiss the charges on its own initiative if the driver successfully completes the program but does not apply for dismissal. Once charges are dismissed, all police, court, and prosecution records pertaining to the charges must be erased. Court records do not include records or transcripts prepared by official court reporters, assistant reporters, or monitors.
Erased records are not immediately physically destroyed. Instead, the law prohibits the disclosure of their existence or any information pertaining to them to anyone, except to the subject of the records and any crime victim or his or her representative. To obtain access to the records, crime victims and their representatives must apply in writing and state that they have filed or intend to file a law suit for loss or damage resulting from the crime. If asked by the subject of the records, clerks or anyone else with retention and control of erased records must physically destroy them three years after the final disposition of the criminal case (CGS §§ 54-142a and -142c).
The police must, within 60 days of the disposition when charges are dismissed, (1) return to a person with no record of a prior conviction his or her fingerprints, pictures, descriptions, and other identifying data and (2) permanently delete any copies filed or stored electronically (CGS § 29-15).