Posts tagged with "reinstatement"

In Case Involving Lifetime Suspension of DUI Suspect’s Commercial Driver’s License, Hearing Officer Properly Applied Statutory Dictates

Last April, the Appellate Court of Connecticut affirmed judgment dismissing a plaintiff’s appeal from the decision of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend his commercial driver’s license (commercial license) for life.

Case Background

In this case, the plaintiff’s license was previously suspended in 2005 for six months pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) § 14-227b after he refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. He thereafter obtained a commercial license in 2009. On March 28, 2010, the plaintiff was involved in an automobile accident. He failed several field sobriety tests, and two breathalyzer tests yielded results of 0.182 and 0.176, more than twice the legal limit.

Therefore, the plaintiff was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (OMVUI) in violation of CGS § 14-227a. The DMV held a suspension hearing, where over objection of plaintiff’s counsel the court admitted a case/incident report prepared by the arresting police officer as well as an A-44 form, which is used in reporting OMVUI-related arrests. After making four statutory findings, the hearing officer suspended the plaintiff’s license for ten months and imposed a lifetime suspension on his commercial license.

The Appeal

The plaintiff appealed to the Superior Court, who dismissed the appeal. The plaintiff sought remedy with the Appellate Court, stating that the hearing officer erroneously admitted the A-44 form into evidence. He argued that the A-44 form did not disclose the implications of refusing or taking a chemical alcohol test as it related to his commercial license. In addition, the plaintiff contended that under CGS § 14-44k(h), the lifetime suspension of his commercial license was improper because “this statutory requirement does not apply… because he had not obtained a commercial driver’s license at the time of his first license suspension.”

Suspension Hearing Questions

Under CGS § 14-227b(g), a hearing officer must make findings of fact related to the following four inquiries: 1) whether the police officer had probable cause to arrest a person for OMVUI; 2) whether the person was arrested; 3) whether the person refused or consented to take a chemical alcohol test (with additional inquiries if consent existed); and 4) whether the person operated a motor vehicle. The Supreme Court of Connecticut has held that these are the only dispositive questions at a suspension hearing. In light of legislative intent, “[W]hether an operator was warned of the consequences of refusing to submit to chemical tests is not made one of the issues to be adjudicated.”

In this case, it was immaterial that the plaintiff did not receive warnings regarding what would happen if he refused or consented to the breathalyzer test as it related to his commercial license. As such, the Appellate Court found that the plaintiff did not suffer prejudice by the A-44 form’s entry into evidence.

Driver’s License Suspension

CGS § 14-44k(h) dictates the circumstances under which a person’s commercial license may be suspended. In reviewing the language of the statute, the Appellate Court noted the distinct lack of “language limiting application [of the statute] to suspensions ordered after [a] person has obtained a commercial driver’s license.” Therefore, if a person is twice charged with OMVUI, his commercial license may be suspended for life, though reinstatement is possible.

The purpose of this statute is to further promote the legislature’s goal of protecting the public on our highways from “potentially dangerous drivers,” such as OMVUI offenders. In this case, the Appellate Court found that adopting the plaintiff’s interpretation of § 14-44k(h) would frustrate this purpose, and statute “means what is says” and was unambiguous. Therefore, the judgment was affirmed.

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or license suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Custodian’s Threat Too Severe to Justify Reinstatement, Says Court

The Panel’s Proposal

In the case of Bridgeport Board of Education v. Nage, the Bridgeport Board of Education sought to vacate, or remove, a prior decision in favor of a former custodian’s reinstatement to a Bridgeport school. The board of education had terminated the custodian’s employment after he had mailed to various city officials a packet of materials that contained detailed descriptions of mass shooting incidents at public schools. A handwritten note concluded with the statement, “If I’m being punished for breaking the rules then we all should.”

Following arbitration, an alternative form of dispute resolution, a panel found that, while the offense was serious, the custodian should be able to retain his position on the condition he successfully complete an employee assistance program and be deemed fit to return to work. The board of education fully rejected this proposal.

Overturning the Initial Decision

The court agreed with the board of education, because the custodian’s conduct would expose the board of education, its schools and students to substantial liability and danger. Should the panel’s proposed solution fail, the board of education would face a serious and dire threat to the welfare of its faculty and students. The custodian, as an employee of a public school, caters to a vulnerable population in the public sector where the board of education is required to provide a safe place for children. The custodian’s threat of mass murder thoroughly undermined contemplations that his reinstatement should be appropriate.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any education or employment matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

If you have a child with a disability and have questions about special education law, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at JMaya@mayalaw.com, to schedule a free consultation.