NOT A MINOR MISTAKE
June 16, 2016
I have written previously here and on my main website about 30-89 Possession of Alcohol By a Minor (a.k.a. Minor in Possession or Underage Drinking) tickets in Connecticut. Paying the ticket causes a conviction of the offense which leads to an automatic driver’s license suspension (administered through the Department of Motor Vehicles). To avoid a suspension, I advise individuals who receive them to plead not guilty and go to court. These tickets are very common on college campuses, concerts (especially in Hartford) and other drinking events. I expect to see some come in with high school graduation parties this summer.
30-89 is an infraction, which is not a criminal offense. It does not carry any possible term of imprisonment. Its statutory neighbor, Conn. Gen. Stat. 30-88a, which prohibits a person from misrepresenting his or her age or using another person’s driver’s license to buy alcohol, is a misdemeanor, which is a criminal offense and carries a possible jail sentence of thirty days.
Problems arose recently when police officers in Bridgeport issued tickets under the now-repealed infraction 30-88, defendants paid it and Centralized Infractions changed it to the new misdemeanor. Those cases are now pending in criminal court.
You should plead not guilty to prevent the automatic license suspension. Many kids pay the tickets hoping their parents won’t find out, only to have their parents see a DMV suspension notice arrive in their mail. Even if you have paid the ticket, it is not too late to fight it. I have successfully petitioned courts to reopen these tickets and stop the suspension (as long as the suspension has not yet started).