Connecticut DUI Law Loophole Exposed in Fatal Car Accident
A loophole in Connecticut DUI law has been the subject of much scrutiny after a teenager with a previous DUI charge was killed in a car accident at the end of September.
On September 28th, 17-year-old Anthony Apruzzese, his 14-year-old sister Jessica and her 15-year-old friend Thamara Correa were killed when their Subaru collided with a truck towing a boat. Witnesses said that the Subaru, driven by Anthony Apruzzese, was speeding at the time of the accident.
Apruzzese had been arrested for DUI back on March 31st following a high-speed accident in Wolcott. Apruzzese suffered a fractured skull, broken eardrum, cuts and bruises during the accident, and his blood alcohol content (BAC) was later found to be 0.02 percent. While it is illegal to be driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent under the DUI laws in all 50 states, Apruzzese was charged with DUI under Connecticut underage drinking and driving laws.
With all that said, the manner in which Apruzzese's BAC was obtained is where the loophole in Connecticut DUI law lies. Rather than a breath test or a urine test, Apruzzese's BAC was gathered via a blood test.
What's the big difference?
Well, had Apruzzese's BAC been taken by a breathalyzer or a urine test, he likely would have faced a longer suspension of his driver's license, which was ultimately reinstated on July 29th.
In other words, if his BAC was gathered via a breath or urine test, Apruzzese would have not been legally able to drive on the night of the fatal accident since his license would have been suspended for 180 days.
In response to criticism of this loophole in Connecticut DUI law, Robert Ward, commissioner of the DMV, said in a Newsday story that his agency proposed to close it this year with legislation that would have equated the DUI penalties for BAC results from blood tests to those obtained from breath or urine tests. Ward said that this bill ultimately failed before the legislature.
Representative Antonio Guerrera, co-chairman of the legislature's Transportation Committee, added that he wants the loophole closed but noted that time ran out for such a provision to be passed this year.
Apruzzese Was Not Even Convicted of DUI!
Of even more interest, Apruzzese would not even be convicted of DUI following the car accident in March. Rather, he would plead guilty to the charge of being a youthful offender. By pleading guilty to being a youthful defender, Apruzzese's DUI charge would have disappeared from his record after satisfying a two-year probation period and meeting other requirements.
Representative Michael Lawlor opinioned in the story that he doesn't believe the youthful offender charge should be used in cases of underage drinking and driving, like in this case, and is rather designed for youthful mistakes like shoplifting or using marijuana.
Despite what all of these legislators want to change, the fact remains that these loopholes in Connecticut DUI law still exist, as evidenced in the loss of three young lives.