Effective January 1, 2006, Public Act 05-215 added to Conn. Gen. Stat. 14-227b new Subsection (j) regarding an increased suspension period for a person underage (under 21 years of age):
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-227b (j) The commissioner shall suspend the operator’s license or nonresident operating privilege of a person under twenty-one years of age who did not contact the department to schedule a hearing, who failed to appear at a hearing or against whom, after a hearing, the commissioner held pursuant to subsection (h) of this section, as of the effective date contained in the suspension notice or the date the commissioner renders a decision, whichever is later, for twice the appropriate period of time specified in subsection (i) of this section.
In essence, subsection (j) doubles the amount of time one’s license is suspended based on the fact the defendant is under 21 years of age. This means if the defendant would normally receive a 90-day suspension, the suspension would jump to 180 days and so forth.
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Some would say that underage drinking has become a national epidemic. This amendment to the drunk driving laws in the state of Connecticut is in direct response to this. Whatever the reason for “doubling the suspension,” it is the new consequence of underage drinking.
Alcohol is the drug of choice with most teens. Most kids get stressed about school, family tension, getting into college, etc. You need to think about the consequences before drinking. Imagine losing your driving privileges around the clock for six months. That is the minimum you lose it for if you are underage.
Those under 21 years old cannot have a BAC of .02 or higher. Practically speaking, drinking any amount of alcohol will result in a .02 BAC. A glass of beer or wine will more than do it.
Any driver under age 21 convicted of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol (or drugs) faces both court and DMV penalties. In court, teens face possible jail time or a suspended sentence, alcohol treatment, probation, and nearly an $800 fine.
In addition, the DMV will suspend their driver’s license for 45 days, and will require installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in their car for one year. An IID is a breathalyzer device connected directly to the car’s engine. If the IID detects alcohol on the driver’s breath, the device will temporarily lock the car’s engine, and it will send a report to the DMV. Bad reports usually result in more charges, additional license suspensions, and more time using the IID.
I encourage all parents to speak openly with their teenage children about the dangers of underage alcohol use and driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Parents should also be aware of the consequences of allowing their children to drink on their property. If parents condone or even know about underage drinking on their property, they are opening themselves up to penalties of $1,500 fines and eighteen months in jail. And if the kids are under sixteen, they face far worse penalties. You can face charges for risk of injury to a minor, which carries a prison term of up to ten years.
Four Principles to Keep in Mind
Here are four Lady DUI Principles to apply to any situation involving teenagers and alcohol:
- Teens can’t buy alcohol. If your teenager illegally purchases alcohol or is caught trying to buy alcohol, they will be arrested and subject to a court fine.
- Teens can’t possess alcohol. If your teenager is caught in possession of alcohol in either a private or public place, they will be subject to arrest and prosecution.
- If caught, the DMV will suspend their driver’s license. In addition to the court penalties they face, the DMV will suspend the teenager’s driver’s license too. When a teenager is caught in possession of alcohol, they will receive a 30-day driver’s license suspension. When a teenager is caught in possession of alcohol in a car while on the roads, they receive a 60-day driver’s license suspension.
- Additional school suspension could follow. Most public schools will place their own restrictions on teenagers caught in possession of alcohol. For example, students who play sports could be suspended from their teams. Check your teen’s Student Handbook and other school policies for more information on the types of administrative actions your teenager’s school may take against them.
Law and police action alone however, do little to address underage drinking. The only real approach is to educate children of the consequences of drinking and now with the harsher penalties on license suspension the consequences are quite severe and will affect the day-to-day life of an underage drinker.