PA 09-187—SB 1081

Transportation Committee

Public Safety and Security Committee

Judiciary Committee

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

Appropriations Committee

Planning and Development Committee


SUMMARY: This act makes numerous changes to many motor vehicle laws and Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) operations. Some of the most significant changes include:

1. decreasing, from . 08% to . 04%, the presumptive level for determining if a driver of a commercial motor vehicle is operating with an elevated blood alcohol level (DUI) for both the criminal offense and the administrative suspension; (b) broadening the scope of the law that prohibits someone under age 21 from operating a motor vehicle on a highway with a blood-alcohol level of . 02% or more to apply anywhere, including on private property, rather than just on a highway; and (c) making several other related changes to the DUI laws;

2. requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to (a) evaluate whether the motor vehicle emissions inspection program can remain in compliance with federal law if it was to be conducted solely by using on-board diagnostic systems of 1996 and newer vehicles and (b) advise the motor vehicle commissioner of the results of the evaluation before any new agreements for the program are made;

3. making several changes with respect to the issuing of handicapped parking credentials;

4. authorizing the operation of golf carts on local roads under certain circumstances;

5. authorizing special driving permits for higher educational purposes, in addition to employment;

6. establishing requirements and procedures for sale or disposal of motor vehicles left at self-storage facilities by defaulting renters;

7. establishing requirements and procedures for disposal of motorized personal property ordered removed by law enforcement officers; and

8. creating collegiate “commemorative” and “Share the Road” special license plates.

Because of the great number of separate initiatives contained in the act, the digest below is provided to identify the location in the act and subject matter of the various changes explained in the section-by-section analysis that follows.


Subject Matter of Section


Technical Change


Consent for Licensure of A Minor


Dishonored Credit Card Transactions


Driver's License Suspensions


Suspension of Driving Privilege of Drivers Under Age 18


Technical and Minor Changes Regarding Restoration of License or Driving Privileges

7- 8

Eight-Hour Safe Driving Practices Course


Suspension of Eligibility to Obtain a Driver's License if Under Age 18 and Driving Without a License


Delay of Vision Screening for License Renewal


Incidental Movement of Certain Motor Vehicles


Regulations on Vehicles Not Suitable for Registration


Organ and Tissue Donation


Speeding by Someone Under Age 18


Dealer Qualification for On-Line Registration Program


Repair Period under Motor Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program


Fee for Late Renewal of Motor Vehicle Manufacturer's License


Motor Vehicle Recycling Business Licenses


Trailers and Semi-Trailers


Motor Carrier Regulation


Technical Change Regarding DOT Permit Violations


Motor Carrier Operating with Suspended or Revoked Registration


Surrender of Dealer or Repairer Plates When Licensee Loses License or Goes Out of Business


Transfer of Funds for Nursing License Plates


License Status List


Operation of Golf Carts on Local Roads


Modified Antique, Rare, or Special Interest Motor Vehicles


Property Tax Assessment Cap for Antique, Rare, or Special Interest Motor Vehicles


Composite Motor Vehicles


Exemption for Safe Ride Programs


Disposal of Motorized Personal Property


Definition of Out-of-Service Order


Restoration of Driving Privileges for Certain Third-Time DUI Offenders


Special Driving Permits for Educational Purposes


Handicapped Parking Credentials


Stolen or Damaged Plate Fee Waiver


Utility Trailer Definition


Use of Ignition Interlock Devices on Motor Vehicles


Auxiliary Power or Idle Reduction Technology Units


Amendment to “Move Over” Law


Motor Vehicles and Self Storage Facilities


Work Zone Safety Police Training


Video Devices in Motor Vehicles


Motor-Driven Cycles


School Bus Driver Test Fee Waiver


Second Knowledge Test For Driver's License


Driver's License Examination Fee


Used Motor Vehicle “As Is” Disclaimer Notice


Definition of “Serious Traffic Violation” for Motor Carriers


Evaluation of All On-Board Diagnostic Testing Emissions Inspection Program

56- 57

Address Changes and Non-Driver Identity Cards


Special Interest Collegiate License Plates


“Share The Road” Special License Plates


Franchise Agreements Regarding Sale of Motor Homes


Drunk Driving Offenses and Administrative License Suspensions


Devices Affecting License Plate Recognition


Provision of Ignition Interlock Device Restriction in Electronic Driver Record


Commercial Driver's Instruction Permits


Repeal of DMV Study of Distractive Devices in Motor Vehicles


Repeal of Requirements Regarding High-Mileage Vehicles

EFFECTIVE DATE: Various, see below


This section makes a technical change to a statutory reference.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act adds grandparents to the list of people who may provide “parental consent” for a 16- or 17-year old to obtain a learner's permit and driver's license if the applicant's adult spouse, parent, foster parent, or guardian is deceased, incapable, outside the state, or otherwise unavailable to provide the consent.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act permits the DMV commissioner to charge a fee for a credit or debit card payment of DMV fees that is rejected or dishonored in the same way he can for returned or dishonored checks. He now charges $35 for fees up to $200, plus 15% of amounts that exceed $200 and any protest fees and charges to cover collection costs.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


The act explicitly authorizes the DMV commissioner to suspend the operating privilege of a nonresident for the same violations for which the law requires him to suspend the driver's license of a Connecticut resident.

The act also establishes a driver's license or operating privilege suspension of:

1. 30 to 90 days for a first violation of the law prohibiting operating a motor vehicle on a public highway for a wager, a race, or to make a speed record, and a minimum of 90 days for a subsequent violation; and

2. a minimum of one year for a second or subsequent violation for evading the responsibility to stop immediately, render any needed assistance, and provide identification when knowingly involved in an accident resulting in physical injury to another or damage to property. (By law, a first violation results in a suspension of at least 90 days. )

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act makes it explicit that if anyone under age 18 violates a law that requires a suspension of a driver's license, and the person has not yet received a license (for example, if he or she only holds a learner's permit), then the DMV commissioner may suspend the privilege to obtain a license instead.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act makes a technical change in the law governing participation in the DMV substance abuse treatment program for drunk driving offenders. It also removes the prior 30-day limit within which someone who has been notified of the requirement to participate in a treatment program has to petition the commissioner to waive the requirement based on certain statutory criteria.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


By law, a driver's license applicant must complete an eight-hour safe driving practices training course before being issued a Connecticut driver's license unless he or she previously held a Connecticut driver's license or holds a valid license from another state, territory, or possession of the United States. The act (1) adds someone who holds a valid license from any foreign country with which the commissioner has an agreement for reciprocal recognition of driver training requirements to the exceptions and (2) authorizes the commissioner to adopt regulations establishing standards for DMV-licensed commercial driving schools to offer and conduct the required course. The act also makes a technical change to the law requiring DMV to adopt regulations on the content of the eight-hour course driving schools or driver education programs provide for anyone under age 18.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


Under the act, anyone under age 18 convicted of driving without having obtained a license is ineligible to receive a license for at least one year, presumably from the date of the conviction.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act postpones for two years, until July 1, 2011, the requirement that, beginning July 1, 2009, the DMV commissioner conduct a vision screening for drivers' license renewal applicants on every other license renewal. By law, in lieu of the DMV screening, an applicant may submit the results of a vision screening performed by a qualified licensed health care professional if it was conducted within the 12 months preceding renewal.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


The act permits anyone who holds a valid driver's license to road test or move a student transportation vehicle or activity vehicle without needing the appropriate license endorsement that would otherwise be required to drive such a vehicle. This exception already exists in the case of school buses, livery vehicles, and other types of vehicles requiring special license endorsements.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


By law, the DMV commissioner may refuse to register or issue a title for any motor vehicle or class of vehicles if he determines its characteristics make it unsafe for highway operation. The act authorizes the commissioner to adopt implementing regulations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


Previously, the commissioner had to provide an opportunity for any driver's license or non-driver identification card applicant to complete an organ donation card. The act replaces the donor card process with an opportunity to register as an organ or tissue donor in the donor registry established by state law. If someone chooses to be included in the donor registry, the act requires the designation to be imprinted on the license or identity card.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act makes a minor change to the speeding law to make it consistent with other laws that establish special penalties for anyone under age 18 who exceeds a posted speed limit by more than 20 miles per hour, instead of 20 miles per hour or more.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act reduces from 25 to 10 the number of monthly transactions a motor vehicle dealer must have in order to qualify for participation in DMV's on-line registration program.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


The act increases, from 30 to 60 days, the period someone whose vehicle has failed an emissions inspection has to get the vehicle repaired and re-inspected. The act also deletes an obsolete reference to the fee for annual inspections, which are no longer conducted under the current program.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


The act (1) establishes a $250 late fee for a motor vehicle manufacturer who fails to renew its license on time and (2) prohibits the commissioner from renewing a license if more than 45 days have passed since it expired.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


The act makes licenses for operating a motor vehicle recycling business valid for two years instead of one and correspondingly increases the renewal fee from $350 to $700.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


The act makes a technical change to the laws governing brake equipment on trailers.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


The act makes numerous, mostly technical, changes to laws governing motor carrier operations to make them consistent with federal laws and regulations on motor carrier safety. In particular, the act makes the Connecticut law on maximum hours of on-duty service consistent with federal regulations and a recent change concerning drivers of utility service vehicles.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


The act makes a technical change in the law establishing penalties for violating Department of Transportation (DOT) over-dimension permit requirements to include both motor vehicles and motor vehicle combinations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


The act prohibits a motor carrier from operating or knowingly permitting operation of any motor vehicle whose registration has been suspended or revoked by the commissioner or any federal agency acting pursuant to federal law. For a first offense, the act prescribes a fine of $500 to $1,000, imprisonment for up to 90 days, or both. The penalty for any subsequent violation is a fine of $1,000 to $2,000, imprisonment for up to one year, or both.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act requires a dealer or repairer who no longer holds a valid DMV license due to its (1) failure to renew the license, (2) surrender of the license, or (3) revocation by the commissioner to account for and immediately return all general distinguishing number plates (dealer or repairer plates) to a DMV inspector or other authorized DMV agent or employee. It requires all such plates to become void as of the date of license termination and prohibits using them to operate any motor vehicle.

Anyone who fails to return or surrender the plates or who, knowing that the plate is void, uses it to operate a vehicle is subject to a fine of up to $100, up to 30 days imprisonment, or both.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act requires the Office of Policy and Management secretary to distribute quarterly to the Connecticut Nurses Foundation funds in the account created for the special “Nursing” license plate. The plates were authorized in 2008 to express support for the nursing profession, raise awareness of the nursing shortage, and provide scholarships for nursing education and training.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


Prior law required the DMV commissioner to publish a list of those whose class B license or registration has been suspended. DMV currently maintains a system that provides companies electronic access to the list of people with suspended public service licenses that is updated periodically. The prior law was obsolete and the act eliminates it.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act authorizes any local traffic authority to permit the operation of golf carts, during daylight hours, on any road under its jurisdiction. A golf cart must be equipped with an operable horn meeting the requirements of state law and a flag positioned to assist other drivers to see it. The traffic authority must limit cart operation to roads with a posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour or less. The operator must carry a valid Connecticut driver's license when operating a cart. Violations of these requirements are infractions.

The act authorizes the DMV commissioner to establish insurance requirements for golf carts by regulation.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


By law, the DMV commissioner may issue special number plates to “antique, rare, or special interest motor vehicles. ” These vehicles are defined as vehicles that are 20 years old or older, being preserved because of historic interest, and have not been altered or modified from the original manufacturer's specifications.

The act permits the commissioner to also issue these plates to antique, rare, or special interest vehicles that have been modified. The law defines a “modified antique motor vehicle” as a vehicle that is 20 years old or older and has been modified for safe road use, including modifications to the drive train, suspension, braking system, and safety and comfort apparatus.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The law caps the assessed value of an antique, rare, or special interest motor vehicle for municipal property tax purposes at $500. Under the act, the local tax assessor may require the owner of such a vehicle to provide reasonable documentation that the vehicle is an antique, rare, or special interest motor vehicle as defined in the law. However, if the vehicle has been issued the special license plate for such vehicles, the owner cannot be required to provide the additional documentation.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act requires that, for purposes of registration and mandatory mechanical inspections required by law, the model year of a composite motor vehicle be determined as the model year that the body of the vehicle most closely resembles. The law defines a “composite motor vehicle” as one composed or assembled from several parts of other motor vehicles whose identification and body contours are so altered that it no longer bears the characteristics of any specific vehicle make. Any vehicle not assembled by a DMV-licensed manufacturer is considered a composite motor vehicle.

The act authorizes the commissioner to require inspection of any other motor vehicle that has not been made by a DMV-licensed motor vehicle manufacturer, for which he must charge an $88 fee.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act exempts the assigned drivers in a Safe Ride program sponsored by the American Red Cross, the Boy Scouts of America, or another national public service organization from the passenger restrictions for drivers under age 18 during their first year of licensure. Previously, they were exempt only from the 11: 00 p. m. to 5: 00 a. m. driving curfew.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act establishes a procedure for wreckers who tow or remove motorized personal property at the direction of a police officer to dispose of the property after certain requirements are met. It defines “motorized personal property” to include mini-motorcycles (“pocket bikes”), dirt bikes, snowmobiles, or other types of motorized personal property.

It requires the licensed wrecker who removes the property for the police officer to store it in a suitable place. The wrecker operator or licensee that owns the wrecker must give written notice by certified mail to the property owner within 48 hours of the removal, if the owner is known. The notice must specify that the property has been taken and where it is being stored. The entity that removed the property has a lien upon it for removal and storage charges. If the property owner does not claim it, or the owner is not known, the tower may sell or dispose of it after 30 days, subject to any statutory or regulatory requirements that apply to the sale or disposal of such property.

A first violation of these requirements is designated as an infraction with a fine of $35 to $50. The penalty for subsequent violations is a $50 to $100 fine, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act redefines an “out-of-service order” to follow more closely the requirements of federal motor carrier safety regulations. Previously, it was defined as a temporary prohibition against driving a commercial motor vehicle or any other vehicle subject to the federal safety regulations enforced by the motor vehicle commissioner. The act changes this to an order (1) a police officer, motor vehicle inspector, or an authorized Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) official issues prohibiting the operation of a commercial motor vehicle or further operations by its driver or (2) FMCSA issues under federal law prohibiting a motor carrier from engaging in commercial motor vehicle operations. In effect, it expands the definition to explicitly cover drivers who have violated safety regulations and carriers found unfit to continue commercial operation—both of which are part of the federal regulations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act permits those who have had their drivers' licenses permanently revoked for a third conviction for DUI before October 1, 1999 to use the same process for restoring their ability to drive after six years that is already afforded to those whose revocations occurred on or after October 1, 1999. Under this process, once at least six years has passed since the revocation, the person may request a DMV hearing to reverse or reduce the revocation. The person must provide satisfactory evidence that a reversal or reduction will not endanger pubic safety and must meet other requirements, such as successful completion of an alcohol education and treatment program. If granted relief, the person must, as a condition of driving, operate only vehicles equipped with an approved ignition interlock device from the date the relief is granted until 10 years have passed from the revocation date.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


By law, someone whose driver's license has been suspended, with some exceptions, may apply to DMV for a special driving permit that allows the person to drive to and from a work place or in connection with performing employment functions. The act expands the permit program to provide for driving to and from an accredited higher education institution in which the person is enrolled. It requires the applicant for an education driving permit to provide DMV with a schedule of the times and location of all classes or other required educational activities attended and requires the institution's registrar to attest to the schedule.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


By law, anyone who is blind or who has disabilities that limit or impair the ability to walk as defined in federal regulations may apply for special license plates, a removable windshield placard, or both that grant special parking privileges for the recipient. Display of these plates or a placard permits the holder to use specially designated parking spaces. Windshield placards are issued for both permanent and temporary disabilities. Placards and plates can also be issued to (1) the parent or guardian of a person under age 18 who qualifies for one and (2) any organization that meets DMV criteria and certifies to the commissioner's satisfaction that the vehicle for which the plate or placard is requested is primarily used to transport blind or disabled people.

This act establishes several new requirements with respect to the issuance and use of windshield placards and special plates. Specifically, it:

1. requires anyone issued a placard on or after January 1, 2010 to have either a driver's license or a DMV-issued non-driver photo identification card;

2. permits issuance of a placard to the parent or guardian of any blind or disabled person if that person cannot request or complete an application;

3. eliminates authority for physicians' assistants to certify disabilities qualifying for a placard or special plates, but it is unclear how it changes the certification authority of advance practice registered nurses (See COMMENT below);

4. authorizes the Board of Education and Services for the Blind to certify legal blindness for these purposes (previously only ophthalmologists and optometrists could certify a person was blind);

5. requires the commissioner to develop a procedure for renewing existing placards that may be implemented over a multi-year period;

6. requires placards to be returned to the commissioner when the recipient moves to another state or dies (special license plates must already be returned under these circumstances);

7. establishes a $500 fine for using a placard or special license plate issued to a deceased person;

8. requires the commissioner to check periodically the Department of Public Health's state death registration and cancel any placard issued to someone identified as deceased;

9. prohibits anyone from being issued special handicapped license plates for more than two motor vehicles; and

10. requires the DMV commissioner to evaluate alternative enforcement methods and certain other issues related to the handicapped parking laws and submit recommendations to the Transportation Committee.

The act permits the commissioner to adopt regulations for issuing placards to people who, due to hardship, do not hold or cannot get a driver's license or non-driver identification card. It also requires him to maintain a record of each placard he issues to any such person.

DMV Study

The act requires the commissioner to conduct a study in consultation with members of local police departments. The study must:

1. review and evaluate alternative ways of enforcing the handicapped parking laws in areas not normally patrolled by local police, including private property open to public use;

2. develop recommendations, including any necessary legislation, authorizing local police departments to use ancillary staff for handicapped parking enforcement, including retired police officers and licensed private security companies; and

3. recommend increased fines and mandatory court appearances for violators.

The commissioner must submit his recommendations and proposals to the Transportation Committee by January 15, 2010.


Provision Regarding Disability Certification by Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

The act makes a change regarding disability certification by advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), but it is not clear if they are prohibited from making such certification. Previously, the law stated that application for a credential had to include certification from a physician, APRN, or physician's assistant. In the next provision it stated that in the case of people with disabilities, the application also had to include certification from a physician, APRN, or the DMV handicapped driver training unit that the disability meets the criteria established under federal regulations as a qualifying disability. The act removes the reference to APRNs in the first provision but not the second. Since these two certification references are essentially part of the same process, it is unclear how this provision affects APRNs.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


In 1997, the legislature permitted the motor vehicle commissioner to waive the $20 fee for replacement license plates and the additional $5 fee that must be charged for any safety (reflectorized) license plates he issues whenever someone's license plates have been stolen or mutilated for the purpose of obtaining the registration validation sticker attached to the plate. A police report must be submitted for the fee waiver to apply. In 2008, the requirement that the police report indicate that the purpose of the plate theft or mutilation was to obtain the registration sticker was deleted from the safety plate fee waiver law, but not from the replacement plate fee law. The deletion reflected the fact that registration stickers are now windshield stickers and not fixed to the license plate.

The act (1) corrects the oversight in the replacement plate fee waiver to accommodate the change in sticker location and (2) eliminates the waiver authority for the $5 safety plate fee.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act eliminates the restriction in the definition of a “utility trailer” that limited it to a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. Thus, it is defined as a trailer designed and used to transport personal property, materials, or equipment, whether or not permanently affixed to the trailer bed.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act makes a technical correction to the law regarding the use of ignition interlock devices on motor vehicles used by those convicted of certain alcohol-related driving crimes to reflect the fact that in 2008 the law was expanded to require the use of such devices following the mandatory license suspensions that result from convictions for 2nd degree assault with a motor vehicle and 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, both of which involve driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act permits the owner of a commercial motor vehicle with an auxiliary power or idle reduction technology unit to apply to the DMV commissioner for a weight tolerance exemption from state gross, axle, tandem, and bridge formula weight limits. The exemption allows operation of the vehicle with a tolerance for the actual weight of the auxiliary power unit, up to a maximum of 400 pounds. The act defines an “auxiliary power unit or idle reduction technology unit” as an integrated system, other than the vehicle's engine, that provides heat, air conditioning, engine warming, electric components, or power to do the work for the which the vehicle is designed.

To qualify for the weight exemption, the vehicle owner may be required to (1) produce a written certification of the unit's weight and (2) show by written certification or actual demonstration that it is fully functional at all times. The exemption may be granted by any official or law enforcement officer authorized to enforce the state's maximum motor vehicle weight laws.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act expands a provision of PA 09-121 that requires a motorist approaching one or more stationary emergency vehicles on a travel lane, breakdown lane, or shoulder of a highway to immediately slow down and, if in the adjacent lane and it is safe to do so, move over one lane. One type of emergency vehicle covered by the act is a vehicle operated by a sworn member of the State Police or an organized local police department. This act broadens this provision to include additional types of police officers including (1) any member of a law enforcement unit who performs police duties, for example, DMV inspectors designated to enforce motor vehicle laws; (2) appointed constables who perform criminal law enforcement duties; and (3) certain special policemen appointed to enforce laws on state property, investigate public assistance fraud, and policemen for utility and transportation companies.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


By law, the owner of a self-service storage facility has a lien upon any personal property left in the facility by a renter who defaults on a rental agreement. The lien is for any rent, labor, or other valid charges in relation to the property; valid expenses incurred in its preservation; and reasonable costs for its sale or other disposition. The facility owner must follow certain specific procedures for, among other things, notifying the defaulting property owner, advertising the sale of the property, disposing of sale proceeds, and redeeming the property.

This act expands the meaning of personal property to explicitly include motor vehicles left in the facility by a defaulting renter and establishes specific notice requirements relative to such vehicles.

Specific Requirements for Motor Vehicles

The act requires the self-service storage facility owner to contact the DMV in a manner the commissioner prescribes to determine the existence and identify of any lienholder and the name and address of the vehicle's owner. The facility owner must send a written notice to the commissioner stating the:

1. vehicle's vehicle identification number,

2. date it was left with the facility owner,

3. date of the facility occupant's default,

4. amount of the lien claimed,

5. vehicle's registration number if it has plates on it, and

6. vehicle owner's name and the name of the facility occupant who defaulted.

Any subsequent sale of the motor vehicle is void if the notice to the commissioner is not made. The facility owner must also enclose a $5 fee with the notice. The commissioner must place the notice on file and make it available for public inspection.

Within 10 days of receiving information on any lienholder and vehicle owner from the DMV, the facility owner must send them written notice by postage paid registered or certified letter with return receipt. The notice must state that the vehicle is being held at the facility and has a lien attached to it.

The act requires the motor vehicle commissioner to adopt regulations that (1) specify the circumstances under which title to a vehicle abandoned at the facility may be transferred and (2) establish a procedure through which the facility owner may get title to the vehicle.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2010


The act specifies that the State Police, the Police Officer Standards and Training Council, and each municipal police department “shall be encouraged” to provide in each basic or review police training program they conduct or administer training on highway work zone safety that covers, at least:

1. enforcement of criminal laws on highway worker endangerment;

2. techniques for handling unsafe driving incidents in a highway work zone;

3. risks associated with unsafe driving in a highway work zone;

4. safe traffic control practices, such as the proper location of officers and wearing high-visibility safety apparel; and

5. general guidelines, standards, and applications in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, including training on the proper use of traffic control devices and signs and a one hour annual refresher on the guidelines, standards, and applications.

The act requires the Highway Work Zone Safety Advisory Council to develop and make available a program curriculum and recommend it to the various training entities. The act does not specify who must encourage the training entities to provide the training, but the council would be one possibility.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act broadens the exceptions to the prohibition on a television screen or other similar device that may be installed in a motor vehicle where it may be visible to the driver or interfere with the safe operation or control of the vehicle in any other way. Under prior law, devices meeting certain criteria that were installed by the motor vehicle manufacturer were exempt from this general prohibition.

The act (1) revises some of these exceptions and adds others and (2) eliminates the restriction that they must be installed by a vehicle manufacturer, thus permitting aftermarket installation and use of devices that qualify.

General Prohibition

Previously, a television screen or other similar device could not be installed or used anywhere in a motor vehicle where it might be visible to the driver or interfere with the vehicle's safe operation or control in any way. The act, instead, specifies (1) that such a device cannot display a moving image, other than text, and (2) that, to be prohibited, the device's image must be visible to someone who is actually operating the vehicle and using a seat belt.

Exceptions to the Prohibition

Previously, a device that was installed by the vehicle's manufacturer was exempt from the prohibition if it met one or more of the following: (1) it is a video display unit used for instrumentation purposes, (2) it is a closed video monitor used only for backing or parking, (3) it is a video display unit or device capable of operation only when the vehicle is stationary and is automatically disabled when the vehicle is in motion, or (4) the display or device is used to enhance or supplement the driver's view of the area immediately surrounding the vehicle to assist in low-speed maneuvering at not more than 10 miles per hour around obstructions.

The act eliminates the requirement that excepted devices be installed only by the vehicle's manufacturer, thus permitting them to be installed in the aftermarket. It also revises the exceptions as follows:

1. a closed video monitor used to assist the driver while backing, parking, maneuvering at a speed up to 12 miles per hour, or to monitor passengers seated behind the driver;

2. a video display unit or device capable of operation only when the vehicle is stationary and is automatically disabled when the vehicle is in motion (unchanged by the act);

3. a video display or device that is used to enhance or supplement the operator's view of the roadway or to assist in object detection;

4. a video display unit used for control or instrumentation purposes (current law), to provide vehicle information, or to assist in the operation of navigation, traffic, road, and weather information functions; or

5. a video display or device installed in any emergency vehicle.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


In 2008, the statutes were substantially rewritten to replace the laws governing bicycles with helper motors, i. e. “mopeds,” with the concept of “motor-driven cycles. ” The reference to bicycles with helper motors in the motor vehicle definition was not changed at the time. The act makes this technical correction.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act requires the DMV commissioner to waive the fees for a learner's permit ($10), knowledge test ($16), and skills test ($30) for applicants for a commercial driver's license if the applicant is getting a license with an “S” endorsement for driving a school bus. In practice, the DMV has not collected the fees from those applicants since a 1990 law required a fee waiver when applicants provided evidence of current employment as a school bus driver or acceptance for employment as such. The law was modified in 1997 to change the basis of the waiver to application for a “Z” license restriction, which restricted the prospective licensee solely to school bus operation. The “Z” restriction was eliminated in 2007 along with the fee waiver provision. DMV continued to waive fees based on its prior procedures, although there was no longer a statutory authority for the waiver. The act, in effect, restores the fee waiver that existed prior to 2007.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


By law, before the DMV commissioner can issue a learner's permit to anyone under age 18, the applicant must pass a vision screening and a knowledge test on the motor vehicle laws and rules of the road. Previously, it also permitted the commissioner to administer a second knowledge test before issuing a driver's license to anyone under age 18. The act makes this second knowledge test prior to licensure mandatory. It permits the commissioner, subject to standards and requirements he imposes, to authorize licensed driving instruction schools in good standing and secondary school driver education programs to administer the second pre-licensure knowledge test as part of the eight-hour safe driving practices course required for everyone under age 18 and certify to the commissioner, under oath, that the test was administered.

The act specifies that the fee for the eight-hour course must be $125 (the fee previously authorized by DMV regulation), but if the knowledge test is administered as part of the course it permits a fee of up to $150. It permits the commissioner to adopt regulations for the administration and certification of the knowledge test.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


Prior law required payment of a $40 fee for a driver's license examination. It also permitted the commissioner to charge a $15 in advance for scheduling a license examination appointment which he had to apply toward the $40 fee if the appointment was kept. The act (1) eliminates the authority for the $15 advance appointment fee and (2) makes it clear that the $40 examination fee covers all phases of the examination process (vision screening, knowledge test, and road test). It also specifies that the examination fee must be paid in the manner the commissioner directs and that any applicant who fails the examination, or any part of the examination, must pay an additional $40 to retake it.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


By law, a used car dealer may sell a used vehicle “as is” if it meets certain requirements, such as its cash purchase price is less than $3,000 or it is at least seven years old. For an “as is” disclaimer to be enforceable it must, among other things, appear on the front page of the sales contract and state certain things such as:

1. “this means that you will lose your implied warranties”;

2. “you will have to pay for any repairs needed after sale”;

3. “if we have made any promises to you, the law says we must keep them, even if we sell 'as is'; and

4. “to protect yourself, ask us to put all promises into writing.

The act requires that this last declaration in the disclaimer notice of the sales contract also say, to ask the dealer “if we offer a warranty on this vehicle.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


Under federal law and motor carrier safety regulations, a commercial motor vehicle driver must be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for at least 60 days if convicted of committing two serious traffic violations or 120 days if convicted of three serious traffic violations within a three-year period. One such serious traffic violation is exceeding the posted speed limit by 15 miles per hour or more.

The act conforms Connecticut's law to the federal definition by adopting the standard of 15 miles per hour or more above the posted limit instead of speeding “in excess of” 15 miles per hour above the limit.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), in consultation with DMV, to evaluate, using models approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, whether the present system for conducting motor vehicle emissions inspections could be replaced when the current contract for providing these inspections expires by a system that exclusively uses on-board diagnostic (OBD) information systems for model year 1996 and newer motor vehicles and remain in compliance with federal Clean Air Act requirements. DEP must complete the evaluation and provide it to the DMV commissioner at least six months before he enters into a negotiated agreement or agreements, as provided by law, for a successor system.

By law, most gasoline- and diesel-powered motor vehicles up to 10,000 pounds gross weight that are more than four, and less than 25, model years old are subject to emissions inspections. Only vehicles that are 1996 or newer have OBD capability. Thus, the all-OBD inspection system DEP must evaluate could include only 1996 and newer vehicles that have these capabilities.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act requires anyone who holds a DMV-issued non-driver photo identification card to notify the DMV commissioner of a change of address within 48 hours in the same way drivers' license holders must. It also subjects identity card holders to the provisions of the law requiring furnishing of a correct address to the Department of Social Services in child support cases. As is the case for driver's license holders, violations are designated as infractions.

The act eliminates a reference to DMV regulations in a law requiring DMV to notify a state that has issued someone a driver's license if the commissioner issues such person a Connecticut non-driver photo identification card. DMV has no such regulations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


By law, the DMV commissioner may issue special license plates that bear the logos or emblems of Connecticut public and independent colleges and universities pursuant to regulations he must adopt. Prior law specified certain things the regulations had to cover including:

1. the eligibility criteria for institutions to participate,

2. provisions for issuing or renewing the plates after receiving a form from the institution certifying that the applicant made a contribution of at least $50 to its scholarship fund or account before each such issuance or renewal,

3. fees for the plates, and

4. any additional information or fees the commissioner requires.

The prior law also required that the contributions the institution receives be distributed based on financial need.

The act (1) eliminates all the specific content requirements for the regulations, as well as the requirement that contributions be distributed based on financial need and (2) establishes a second set of statutory requirements under which the commissioner, on or after October 1, 2009 and within available appropriations, may issue collegiate “commemorative” plates. This would, in effect, establish a second collegiate plate program operated under different requirements from the existing one.

If the commissioner issues these plates under the new statutory requirements, the act requires him to collect a $55 fee in addition to any normal registration or renewal fees that otherwise apply. DMV must retain $15 of the $55 for initial issuance and $5 for renewal to use for the cost of producing, issuing, renewing, and replacing the collegiate commemorative plates. In order for DMV to issue an institution's collegiate commemorate plate, the act requires the institution to demonstrate that there is a demand for at least 400 such plates.

The portion of the $55 fee not retained by DMV must be deposited in non-lapsing accounts the act requires the comptroller to establish for each educational institution for which a commemorative plate is established. The comptroller must distribute the funds on a quarterly basis to each institution that has a plate account. However, unlike the existing collegiate plate program, the institution must spend the funds it receives on both (1) scholarships based on financial need and (2) alumni outreach.

The act prohibits the motor vehicle commissioner from charging a transfer fee to someone who transfers an existing registration to or from a collegiate commemorative plate. It permits the commissioner to set higher fees for plates that (1) have letters and numbers from a previously issued plate; (2) have a combination of letters or numbers requested by the registrant, i. e. , “vanity” plates; and (3) are low-number plates issued in accordance with state law. It authorizes the commissioner to adopt implementing regulations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


Beginning January 1, 2010, the act permits the DMV to issue, within existing budgetary resources, special “Share the Road” license plates to anyone requesting them. DMV must charge a $60 fee for the plates in addition to any registration fee otherwise required for the vehicle and must retain $15 for the costs of producing, issuing, renewing, and replacing the plates. DMV may not charge a registration transfer fee for anyone who switches to the Share the Road plates from another plate.

The DMV commissioner may charge a higher fee for plates that (1) contain numbers and letters from a previously issued plate, (2) contain letters in place of numbers (“vanity plates”), and (3) are low-number plates issued in accordance with state law. The DOT and DMV commissioners must determine the design of the plates by agreement, in consultation with an organization that advocates on behalf of bicyclists.

The act establishes a special, non-lapsing General Fund account into which must be deposited $45 of the $60 special fee for issuing the plates. DOT must spend funds in the account to enhance public awareness of the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists and motorists jointly using the highway and to promote bicycle use and safety. The DOT commissioner must deposit into the Share the Road account any private donations he receives for it.

The DMV commissioner may provide for the reproduction and marketing of the Share the Road plate image for clothing, recreational equipment, posters, mementoes, or other products or programs he finds suitable. Any money received through such marketing must go into the special account.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009


PA 09-50 substantially revises portions of the law governing new motor vehicle manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and the franchise agreements between them. This act removes manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of motor homes from these revised laws and, instead, keeps them under the laws as they existed on January 1, 2009, before any of the changes made by PA 09-50. A “motor home” is defined as a vehicular unit designed to provide living quarters and necessary amenities that are built into an integral part of, or permanently attached to, a truck or van chassis.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


By law, it is a criminal violation to operate a motor vehicle, on the highway or elsewhere, (1) while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both or (2) with an “elevated blood alcohol content. ” Someone is considered to have an elevated blood alcohol content (BAC) when the ratio of alcohol in the blood is . 08% or more, by weight, or, if under age 21, the ratio of alcohol in the blood is . 02% or more. Anyone who receives a driver's license in Connecticut is deemed by law to have given “implied consent” to a chemical test of his blood, breath, or urine to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs.

A police officer who has arrested someone for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and advised him of his constitutional rights can request the person to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test. If the person either (1) refuses to take the test or (2) takes the test and the results show an elevated blood alcohol content, the police officer sends the arrest report and test results to the DMV and the person is subject to an administrative license suspension. This is called an “administrative per se” license suspension. This suspension operates entirely independently of the procedures for prosecuting the accused person on the criminal charge.

The act:

1. decreases, from . 08% to . 04% the presumptive level for determining if a driver of a commercial motor vehicle (a large truck, bus, or hazardous materials transporter) is operating with an elevated blood alcohol level for both the criminal offense and the administrative suspension;

2. broadens the scope of the law that prohibits someone under age 21 from operating a motor vehicle on a highway with a BAC of . 02% or more to apply anywhere, including on private property, rather than just on a highway;

3. decreases the minimum time police must wait before administering the required second blood-alcohol test from 30 to 10 minutes and, for criminal DUI prosecutions, narrows the range of test results that requires an extrapolation or “relation back” of the test results to establish the driver's blood-alcohol level at the actual time of operation of the vehicle;

4. for administrative per se license suspension hearings, eliminates a parallel “relation back” provision entirely and requires only that the test be commenced within two hours of the time of operation;

5. allows police to submit the required arrest documentation and test results to DMV for the administrative license suspension process electronically and gives the DMV commissioner more time to render a decision following an administrative hearing;

6. notwithstanding the statutory requirement for service of subpoenas at least 18 hours before appearance is required, requires any subpoena summoning a police officer as a witness in a per se hearing to be served on the officer at least 72 hours before the designated time of the hearing; and

7. expands the circumstances under which blood test results from someone taken to a hospital can be used under the administrative per se process.

Elevated Blood Alcohol Content When Driving Commercial Motor Vehicle

The act expands the definition of “elevated blood alcohol content” to include operating a commercial motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of . 04% or more. This applies to both the criminal violation and the administrative per se license suspension process. Thus, the act reduces the presumptive level for determining if someone is driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol from . 08% to . 04%. The law already requires someone found to have been driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of . 04% or more to be disqualified from driving commercial vehicles for one year.

A commercial motor vehicle is one for which the driver must hold a commercial driver's license. By law, these include vehicles designed and used to transport people or property, except for farming vehicles, fire apparatus or emergency vehicles, and recreational vehicles in private use, that:

1. have a gross vehicle weight rating over 26,000 pounds or a gross combination weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds inclusive of one or more towed units with gross weight ratings over 10,000 pounds;

2. are designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or more than 10 passengers, including the driver, when the passengers are students under age 21 being transported to and from school; or

3. are transporting hazardous material in quantities that require placards under federal law or that are listed as a select agent or toxin under federal regulations.

Expanded Application of “Zero Tolerance” Law for Drivers Under Age 21

Under prior law, no one under age 21 could operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of . 02% or more if such operation was on a public highway, any road established under a special municipal district, any private road for which a speed limit has been established by a local traffic authority pursuant to state law, in any parking area for 10 or more cars, or on school property. The criminal DUI and administrative license suspension laws were applicable to minors under these circumstances.

The act eliminates these geographic limitations from the “zero tolerance” law for those under age 21 and makes it similar to the scope of the regular DUI criminal law. Thus, under the act, anyone under age 21 operating a motor vehicle anywhere, including on private property, with a BAC of . 02% or more is subject to prosecution for DUI.

The law does not define what constitutes “operating” a motor vehicle. On several occasions, the Connecticut Supreme Court has determined that “operating” a motor vehicle and “driving” a motor vehicle are not synonymous (See BACKGROUND).

Admissibility Of Chemical Test Results And Administration Of Second Chemical Test

Previously, in order for the results of a chemical test to be admissible in a criminal prosecution, the law required a second test of the same type to be given to the accused person at least 30 minutes after the first test. If the additional test results showed the person's blood-alcohol level to be . 12% or less and the result was higher that the first test result, evidence had to be presented showing that the test results accurately indicated the BAC at the time of the alleged offense. This is known as “relation back.

The act (1) decreases the minimum required time between the first and second tests from 30 to 10 minutes and (2) lowers the blood-alcohol test result that triggers the relation back determination from . 12% to . 10%.

Elimination of “Relation Back” in Administration Suspension Hearing

By law, someone suspended by DMV for failing a blood-alcohol test or for refusing to take the test has one week from receiving the DMV suspension notice to request an administrative hearing. The prior law had a “relation back” provision that was similar to the criminal statute, that is, the results of the chemical test were considered sufficient to indicate the person's BAC level at the time of vehicle operation, except if the second test result was . 12% or less and was higher than the first test result, evidence had to be presented showing that the test results and analysis accurately indicated the BAC at the time of vehicle operation.

The act eliminates consideration of “relation back” at the administrative hearing. Instead, it requires only that it be shown that the test was started within two hours of vehicle operation.

Hospital Blood Test Results

By law, if a police officer obtains the results of a chemical analysis of a blood sample from a driver involved in an accident who suffers or allegedly suffers physical injury, the results are submitted to DMV for an administrative per se suspension proceeding similar to the normal procedure following an arrest not involving hospital treatment. The act expands the circumstances under which such blood test results can be used to include situations where the police officer determines that the person requires treatment or observation at a hospital, even if an injury is not apparent.

Process Changes

The act makes several changes in the administrative per se suspension process. Previously, the commissioner could grant one continuance of the hearing for up to 15 days. If he failed to render a decision within 30 days from the date the person received notice of arrest from the police officer (or 45 days if a continuance is granted), he had to reinstate the person's license or nonresident operating privilege. Notwithstanding this reinstatement, the commissioner could render a decision within the following two days after suspending the license or privilege.

The act eliminates the time limits for the commissioner to render a decision and permits multiple continuances. It requires the commissioner to render a decision at the hearing's conclusion and send notice to the person.

The act permits police reports that must be sent to DMV under the administrative per se license suspension law to be transmitted electronically as an alternative to mailing a hard copy. The commissioner may accept such electronic submissions, including electronic signatures, subject to security procedures the commissioner specifies and in accordance with state law applicable to transmission of electronic records. The act specifies that, in any administrative license suspension hearing, submission of the record electronically may not be grounds to object to the admissibility of the police report.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


Under prior law, no plates, devices, or attachments could be affixed to or cover the official number plates on a motor vehicle. The act revises this prohibition to state instead that nothing may be affixed to a motor vehicle or to its number plates that obscures or impairs the visibility of any information on the plates. Thus, for example, under the act, a license plate holder that covers part of the license plate would be legal as long as all of the information on the plate is completely visible.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009


The act requires the DMV commissioner to put information pertaining to someone's ignition interlock device restriction into his or her electronic driver's license or driving history record and ensure that this record is accessible to law enforcement officers. The information must include the duration of the restriction.

EFFECTIVE DATE; October 1, 2009


By law, the DMV commissioner may issue a commercial driver's instruction permit for a period of up to six months and may reissue or renew it only once, for a maximum of six months, within a two-year period. Thus a permit holder who has not completed instruction within the one-year period covered by the initial issuance and renewal may not be issued another permit until two years pass from the initial issuance.

Until June 30, 2011, the act allows the commissioner to reissue or renew permits more than once for up to six months each time. On and after July 1, 2011, the law reverts to the existing restriction to one six-month reissuance or renewal.

A commercial driver's instruction permit allows someone who holds a valid driver's license to receive instruction in driving a commercial motor vehicle from someone licensed to operate the same type of commercial vehicle the trainee is learning to drive.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act repeals the requirement that DMV study issues relating to driver use of electronic equipment installed in motor vehicles that is unrelated to vehicle operation. This requirement included devices such as word processors, computer video monitors, devices that provide Internet access, and any other equipment of a similar nature. DMV was required to submit its findings and recommendations to the Transportation Committee by February 1, 2008. It never conducted the study.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act repeals the law requiring the DMV commissioner to adopt regulations that (1) establish safety and performance standards for high-mileage motor vehicles and (2) require necessary safety equipment. High-mileage motor vehicles are vehicles with: (1) at least three wheels in contact with the ground; (2) a completely enclosed seat where the driver sits; (3) a single or two-cylinder gasoline or diesel engine, or an electric engine; and (4) efficient fuel consumption.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2010


Eligibility Criteria for Handicapped Parking Plates or Placards

Connecticut's law uses the federal criteria for defining limitation in ability to walk (23 CFR 1235. 2). These criteria can involve physician-certified limitations that are not outwardly visible. Specifically, under these criteria, someone qualifies if a physician, APRN, or DMV handicapped-driver training unit member certifies that the person:

1. cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest;

2. cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a cane, brace, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device;

3. is restricted by lung disease to such an extent that his or her forced respiratory volume or arterial oxygen tension is below certain limits;

4. uses portable oxygen;

5. has a cardiac condition that creates functional limitations falling within the American Heart Association's Class III or IV criteria; or

6. is “severely limited” in walking ability due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.

For eligibility purposes, someone is considered blind if his or her central visual acuity does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye with correcting lenses, or if it is better than 20/200 but is accompanied by a limitation in fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle of no more than 20 degrees (CGS 1-1f).

Operating” a Motor Vehicle

In State v. Swift, the court ruled that a person operates a motor vehicle within the meaning of the drunk driving statute “when in the vehicle he intentionally does any act or makes use of any mechanical or electrical agency which alone or in sequence will set in motion the motive power of the vehicle (125 Conn. 399, 403 (1939)). Another series of decisions determined that sitting at the wheel of a nonmoving vehicle with the engine running constituted operation (State v. Wiggs, 60 Conn. App. 551, 554-55 (2000); State v. Marquis, 24 Conn. App. 467, 468-69 (1991); State v. Ducatt, 22 Conn. App. 88, 93, cert. denied, 217 Conn. 804 (1990)).

In State v. Haight, the Supreme Court determined that the definition of operation was satisfied when a defendant was seated in a vehicle that neither was in motion nor had its motor running. The court upheld the conviction when the defendant was found sleeping in the driver's seat of a legally parked vehicle, with the key in the ignition and the headlights illuminated. The court concluded that “mere insertion of the key constituted operation” (279 Conn. 548, 555-56 (2006)).

In its most recent decision in March 2009, the Supreme Court overturned the appellate court and concluded that a person who had started a vehicle's engine with a remote starter and then had gotten behind the steering wheel was operating the vehicle in that the person had undertaken the first act in a sequence of steps necessary to set in motion the motive power of a vehicle equipped with a remote starter. The court stated that although no evidence appeared to indicate that the ignition key had been inserted and turned, actions that would have been necessary in order to have put the vehicle into gear and moved, the act of starting the motor with the remote starter constituted the first step in the sequence of steps involved in operating the vehicle (State v. Cyr, 291 Conn. 49 (2009)).

OLR Tracking: JF: JLK: SS: DF