HARTFORD, CT — Legislation that would have given those close to losing their license a second chance died in the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee Tuesday.
The bill died by one vote with two members absent.
There is an “epidemic at this point in terms of speeding” on Connecticut highways, Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, co-chair of the committee told fellow committee members.
Fonfara voted against the legislation. Voting in favor, Fonfara said, “would just send the wrong message.”
The bill was proposed by Sen. Carlo Leone, D-Stamford, and passed, unanimously, through the Transportation Committee in March of this year.
Leone said he decided to propose the bill when he was talking to a constituent who had his license suspended “but he needed to drive to get back to work.”
The legislation as written would have required the Department of Motor Vehicle to modify its driver’s license point system for motor vehicle violations to allow a person to reduce the total points on his or her record if he or she passes certain tests.
The legislation would have mandated that DMV would deduct two points if the person passes the knowledge test on driving laws and two points if the person passes the on-the-road skills test.
Existing law and regulations require the DMV commissioner to assess points against a person’s driver’s license if he or she commits certain violations. The number of points assessed for a violation ranges from one to five, with more points being assessed for more serious violations.
For example: one point is assessed for speeding, two points are assessed for failure to obey a stop sign, three points are assessed for passing in a no-passing zone, four points are assessed for failing to drive a reasonable distance apart with intent to harass, and five points are assessed for negligent homicide with a motor vehicle.
Points remain on a person’s driving record for 24 months following the initial assessment. DMV must suspend a person’s license when his or her current total of assessed points equals or exceeds 10.
“This would allow someone who is nearing the 10 points where their license is suspended a chance,” Leone said.
He added the legislation was specifically written that someone who qualified could only use the system once – not be a repeat user or abuser.
Leone tried to built support for the legislation by adding that he thought it was a good idea for drivers to get “a refresher course’’ from the DMV, noting that most people get their licenses when they are teenagers.
He added that another reason for backing the legislation was that just because somebody had their license suspended, it didn’t mean he or she would stop driving – especially if that person needed to get to work. They would just be driving illegally.
But his arguments didn’t persuade his fellow committee members – especially Fonfara.
There has been “an amazing, incredible increase of speeders” driving on the roads in Connecticut the past few years, said Fonfara, adding that you’d have to be “blind” not to see it.
Fonfara added that besides the speeding that goes on routinely on the highways, “there are those that weave in and out and the danger all of us are put in because of that.”
He said that if someone has 10 points on their driving record for speeding “that just means they’ve been caught 10 times,” and probably have been speeding a lot more than that.
By allowing violators to take a test and have points removed from their record, Fonfara added, “It shows that your behavior on the road can be excused.”