NO. 52.† AN ACT RELATING TO POSSESSION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES BY MINORS.

(S.168)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.† FINDINGS

(a)† Since July 1, 2000, there have been 8,004 tickets issued to minors in Vermont for consuming, possessing, and misrepresenting their age to purchase alcoholic beverages.† During that same period, there have been 4,013 suspensions of minorsí driverís licenses for failing to complete the teen alcohol safety program and other conditions imposed for violating the law against use and procurement of alcohol by minors.†

(b)† Alcohol-related traffic fatalities among persons aged 15-20 have declined by nearly 50 percent between the three‑year period 1995-1997 and the period 1998-2001.† Reported underage drinking by high school youth has declined from 50 percent in 1997 to 43 percent in 2001.† In order to continue this progress, it is critical that more young people participate in the teen alcohol safety program.†

(c)† Young people should understand the consequences if they consume, possess, or misrepresent their age to obtain alcoholic beverages.† To promote understanding of these consequences, public awareness should be raised that automobile insurance costs frequently increase substantially when minors violate the law against use and procurement of alcohol.

 

 

Sec. 2.† 7 V.S.A. ß 656 is amended to read:

ß 656.† MINORS MISREPRESENTING AGE, PROCURING, POSSESSING,

††††††††††† OR CONSUMING LIQUORS; FIRST OFFENSE; CIVIL

††††††††††† VIOLATION

* * *

(b)† A law enforcement officer shall issue a summons and complaint to the judicial bureau pursuant to chapter 29 of Title 4 for a violation of this section if the person has not previously been adjudicated in violation of this section or convicted of violating section 657 of this title.

(1)† A law enforcement officer shall issue a notice of violation, in a form approved by the court administrator, to a person who violates this section if the person has not previously been adjudicated in violation of this section or convicted of violating section 657 of this title.† The notice of violation shall require the person to provide his or her name and address, and shall explain procedure under this section, including that:

(A)† the person must contact the diversion board in the county where the offense occurred within 15 days;

(B)† failure to contact the diversion board within 15 days will result in the case being referred to the judicial bureau, where the person, if found liable for the violation, will be subject to a penalty of $300.00 and a 90-day suspension of the personís operatorís license, and may face substantially increased insurance rates;

(C)† no money should be submitted to pay any penalty until after adjudication; and

(D)† the person shall notify the diversion board if the personís address changes.

(2)† When a person is issued a notice of violation under subdivision (1) of this subsection, the law enforcement officer shall complete a summons and complaint for the offense and send it to the diversion board in the county where the offense occurred.† The summons and complaint shall not be filed with the judicial bureau at that time.

(3)† Within 15 days after receiving a notice of violation issued under subdivision (1) of this subsection, the person shall contact the diversion board† in the county where the offense occurred and register for the teen alcohol safety program.† If the person fails to do so, the diversion board shall file the summons and complaint with the judicial bureau for adjudication under chapter 29 of Title 4.† The diversion board shall provide a copy of the summons and complaint to the law enforcement officer who issued the notice of violation, and shall provide two copies to the person charged with the violation.†

(c)† A person who violates this section commits a civil violation and shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $300.00, and shall complete the teen alcohol safety program pursuant to subsection (f) of this section the personís operatorís license and privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be suspended for a period of 90 days.† The state may obtain a violation under this section or a conviction under section 657 of this title, but not both.

(d)† If a person fails to pay a penalty imposed under this section by the time ordered, the judicial bureau shall notify the commissioner of motor vehicles, who shall suspend the personís operatorís license and privilege to operate a motor vehicle until payment is made.

(e)† Upon adjudicating a person in violation of this section, the judicial bureau shall notify the commissioner of motor vehicles, who shall maintain a record of all such adjudications which shall be separate from the registry maintained by the department for motor vehicle driving records.† The identities of persons in the registry shall only be revealed to a law enforcement officer determining whether the person has previously violated this section.

(f)(1)† Upon receipt from a law enforcement officer of a summons and complaint completed under subdivision (b)(2) of this section, the diversion board shall send the person a notice to report to the diversion board.† The notice to report shall provide that:

(A)† The person is required to complete all conditions related to the offense imposed by the diversion board, including substance abuse screening and, if deemed appropriate following the screening, substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, or both.

(B)† If the person does not satisfactorily complete the substance abuse screening, any required substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, or any other conditions related to the offense imposed by the diversion board, the case will be referred to the judicial bureau, where the person, if found liable for the violation, shall be assessed a penalty of $300.00, the personís driverís license will be suspended for 90 days, and the personís automobile insurance rates may increase substantially.

(C)† If the person satisfactorily completes the substance abuse screening, any required substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, and any other conditions related to the offense imposed by the diversion board, no penalty shall be imposed and the personís operatorís license will not be suspended.

(2)(A)† Upon adjudicating a person in violation of this section, the judicial bureau shall notify the teen alcohol safety program of the diversion board in the county where the violation occurred being contacted by a person who has been issued a notice of violation under subdivision (b)(1) of this section, the diversion board shall register the person in the teen alcohol safety program. †Pursuant to the teen alcohol safety program, the diversion board shall impose appropriate conditions on the person, which.† The conditions imposed shall include only conditions related to the offense, and in every case shall include a condition requiring satisfactory completion of alcohol substance abuse screening and, if deemed necessary, alcohol counseling and therapy.† The diversion board may also impose conditions requiring the person to complete community service projects and educational programs related to alcohol appropriate following the screening, substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, or both.† If the screener recommends substance abuse counseling, the person shall choose a state-certified or state-licensed substance abuse counselor or substance abuse treatment provider to provide the services.

(B)† Substance abuse screening required under this subsection shall be completed within 60 days after the diversion board receives a summons and complaint completed under subdivision (b)(2) of this section.† The person shall complete all conditions at his or her own expense.† The diversion board shall allow a person at least 60 days to complete required conditions.

(3)† When a person has satisfactorily completed substance abuse screening, any required substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, and any other conditions related to the offense which the diversion board has imposed, the diversion board shall:

(A)† void the summons and complaint with no penalty due; and

(B)† send copies of the voided summons and complaint to the judicial bureau and to the law enforcement officer who completed them.† Before sending copies of the voided summons and complaint to the judicial bureau under this subdivision, the diversion board shall redact all language containing the personís name, address, social security number or any other information which identifies the person.††

(4)† If a person does not satisfactorily complete alcohol substance abuse screening by a licensed professional and, if deemed necessary, alcohol counseling and therapy, any required substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, or any other conditions related to the offense imposed by the diversion board, or if the person fails to pay the diversion board any required program fees, the diversion board shall notify the commissioner of motor vehicles, who shall suspend the personís operatorís license and privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of up to 90 days, or† until notice of compliance is received from the diversion board, whichever occurs first.† If a person does not timely complete other required conditions of diversion, the diversion board shall notify the commissioner of motor vehicles, who shall suspend the personís operatorís license and privilege to operate a motor vehicle for 30 days file the summons and complaint with the judicial bureau for adjudication under chapter 29 of Title 4.† The diversion board shall provide a copy of the summons and complaint to the law enforcement officer who issued the notice of violation, and shall provide two copies to the person charged with the violation.

(5)† A person aggrieved by a decision of the diversion board or alcohol counselor may seek review of that decision pursuant to Rule 75 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.

(g)† The stateís attorney may dismiss without prejudice a violation brought under this section.

Sec. 3.† EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on October 1, 2003.

Approved:† June 2, 2003