Judicial District of Middlesex


Criminal; Driving While Intoxicated; Whether Defendant Properly Identified Plaintiff as a "Convicted Felon" after Plaintiff's Second Conviction for Violating General Statutes 14-227a Within a Ten Year Period. In 2004, the plaintiff was convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs in violation of General Statutes 14-227a. The 2004 conviction was the plaintiff's second conviction for violating 14-227a within a ten year period. Thereafter, the department of public safety provided the plaintiff with a copy of his criminal history record, which identified him as a "convicted felon." The plaintiff subsequently submitted a petition to the department, requesting that the convicted felon designation be removed from his criminal history record. The department denied the plaintiff's request, and, consequently, he filed this declaratory judgment action against the defendant commissioner of public safety, claiming that he should not have been identified as a convicted felon because a violation of 14-227a constitutes a motor vehicle violation, not a crime. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, and, in response to those motions, the trial court determined that the plaintiff was improperly designated as a convicted felon. In doing so, it acknowledged that General Statutes 53a-25 (a) defines the term "felony" as "[a]n offense for which a person may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year" and that a person who receives a second conviction for violating 14-227a within a ten year period may be incarcerated for two years. It emphasized, however, that the term "offense," as used in 53a-25 (a), is defined in General Statutes 53a-24 (a) as "any crime or violation which constitutes a breach of any law of this state . . . for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment or to a fine, or both, may be imposed, except one that defines a motor vehicle violation. . . ." Accordingly, the court concluded that because motor vehicle violations are excluded from the definition of "offense" as that term is used in 53a-25 (a), violations of 14-227a, which constitute motor vehicle violations under Connecticut case law, cannot be considered felonies even though they may carry a period of imprisonment of more than one year. It therefore ordered the defendant to cease the practice of labeling as a convicted felon any person twice convicted of violating 14-227a within a ten year period. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court's decision was proper.