Brignole v. Currey
A driver who has his driver's license suspended, pursuant to an administrative statute, may not be entitled to the use of an ignition interlock device, pursuant to a criminal statute. Allegedly, the plaintiff was arrested for driving under the influence, and the Department of Motor Vehicles suspended his license nine months, between May 12, 2012 and Feb. 23, 2013, pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §14-227b, an administrative statute. The plaintiff requested that the court order the installation of an ignition interlock device, to permit the plaintiff to drive. The plaintiff maintained that his equal-protection rights were violated, because individuals who are convicted pursuant to C.G.S. §14-227a, a criminal statute, may be allowed to install ignition interlock devices after 45 days and allowed to use their motor vehicles. The defendant commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Melody Currey, moved to dismiss and argued that she was entitled to sovereign immunity. "[T]he concept of equal protection . . . has been traditionally viewed as requiring the uniform treatment of persons standing in the same relation to the governmental action questioned," pursuant to Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, a 2008 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. "[T]he requirement imposed upon [p]laintiffs claiming an equal protection violation [is that they] identify and relate specific instances where persons situated similarly in all relevant aspects were treated differently," pursuant to Tuchman v. State, a decision of the Connecticut Appellate Court. The Superior Court found that the plaintiff failed to prove he was similarly situated to individuals who allegedly violate C.G.S. §14-227a. The purpose of the criminal statute is punitive. Violators can be incarcerated and fined. The purpose of the administrative statute is to deprive potentially dangerous drivers of the opportunity to drive. The plaintiff's equal-protection claim lacked merit. The plaintiff also failed to establish he was entitled to use of the interlock ignition device and was forced to plead guilty to a violation of §14-227a, without due process of law. The court granted the defendant commissioner's motion to dismiss.