History of the Connecticut Judicial Seal Home Home BannerBanner








Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

8.3-3  Operation while Registration or License is Refused, Suspended or Revoked -- 14-215 (a) and (c)

Revised to December 1, 2007 (modified November 6, 2014)

Note:  Section 14-215 (a) has two parts: driving when one's license has been refused, suspended or revoked, and driving a motor vehicle for which registration has been refused, suspended or revoked.  Section 14-215 (c) creates a separate offense for violating subsection (a) by driving when one's license has been suspended or revoked "on account of" a violation of 14-227a, 53a-56b, 53a-60d, or 14-227b.  The first two elements are the same for both offenses.  The third element applies only to a violation of 14-215 (c).1

See Commentary for discussion of other statutes that may be implicated when a person operates a motor vehicle without a valid license.

The defendant is charged [in count __] with operating a motor vehicle while (the motor vehicle's registration / (his/her) operator's license) has been (refused / suspended / revoked).  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows:  <insert as appropriate:>

  • no person to whom an operator's license has been refused, or whose operator's license or right to operate a motor vehicle in this state has been suspended or revoked, shall operate any motor vehicle during the period of such refusal, suspension or revocation.

  • no person shall operate or cause to be operated any motor vehicle, the registration of which has been refused, suspended or revoked, or any motor vehicle, the right to operate which has been suspended or revoked.

For you to find the defendant guilty of this charge, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements:

Element 1 - Operated a motor vehicle
The first element is that the defendant (operated / caused to be operated)2 a motor vehicle.  A "motor vehicle" means all vehicles used on a public highway and include automobiles.3  <Insert as appropriate:>

  • A person "operates" a motor vehicle within the meaning of the statute when, while in the vehicle, such person intentionally does any act or makes use of any mechanical or electrical agency that alone, or in sequence, will set in motion the motive power of the vehicle.  A person acts "intentionally" with respect to conduct when (his/her) conscious objective is to engage in such conduct.  <See Intent: General, Instruction 2.3-1.>

  • The phrase "cause to be operated" has its ordinary meaning.  It means that the defendant's conduct was a substantial factor in bringing about the operation of the vehicle.  <Insert specific allegations.>

Element 2 - Without license or registration
The second element is that such operation occurred during a period when <insert as appropriate:>

  • the defendant's license was refused, or (his/her) right to operate motor vehicle in Connecticut had been suspended or revoked.

  • the registration for the motor vehicle had been refused, suspended or revoked, or the right to operate such motor vehicle was suspended or revoked.

Refuse, suspend and revoke have their ordinary meaning. 

The law requires that the commissioner of motor vehicle provide notice of the (suspension / revocation) of the license.  Notice is deemed to be sufficient if written notice of the (suspension / revocation) was forwarded by the commissioner of motor vehicles via bulk certified mail addressed to the person, whose right to operate was to be (suspended / revoked), at the last known address of the person as shown by the records of the commissioner.  The law does not require that the state prove personal service of a notice of (suspension / revocation) or that the person actually received the notice or that the commissioner received a return receipt.  Rather, compliance by the commissioner with the requirements of the law is all that is required to prove that the defendant was notified of the (suspension / revocation).

[<Use only if defendant is charged under 14-215 (c):>

Element 3 - Reason for suspension
The third element is that the defendant's license was (suspended / revoked) on account of a
[second / third or subsequent] violation of ( 14-227a / 53a-56b / 53a-60d / 14-227b).  <Review evidence of prior conviction.>]


In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant (operated / caused to be operated) a motor vehicle, [and] 2) at the time <insert specific allegations in regard to the license or registration> [and 3) the defendant's license had been (suspended / revoked) on account of a violation of <insert specific allegation>].

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of operating a motor vehicle while <insert specific violation alleged>, then you shall find the defendant guilty.  On the other hand, if you unanimously find that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements, you shall then find the defendant not guilty.

1 See State v. Cook, 36 Conn. App. 710, 715 (1995).

2 The phrase "caused to be operated" applies only to the operation of a motor vehicle for which the registration has been refused, suspended or revoked.

3 It also includes all-terrain vehicles.  State v. Knybel, 281 Conn. 707 (2007) (applying the definition if 14-212 (5)).


Proof that the defendant's operator's license was suspended requires proof that the commissioner complied with 14-111 (a), which does not require personal service of a notice of suspension.  "The requirements of 14-111 (a) were satisfied by a showing of competent evidence that notice of the suspension was mailed to the defendant at his last known address as indicated by the records of the commissioner."  State v. Torma, 21 Conn. App. 496, 501 (1990).  Actual notice of the suspension is not required.  Id., 505.  The defendant's actual knowledge of the suspension is not an element.  State v. Swain, 245 Conn. 442 (1998).

It does not matter whether the motor vehicle was being operated on public or private property.  State v. Hackett, 72 Conn. App. 127, cert. denied, 262 Conn. 904 (2002) (court improperly charged the jury that defendant must have been operating the vehicle in a parking area for 10 or more cars).  Ownership of the vehicle is also irrelevant to this offense.  State v. Ragland, 4 Conn. Cir. Ct. 424 (1967).

 "In order to establish a violation of 14-215 (a), the state must prove two elements:  (1) that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle; and (2) that the defendant's license or operating privileges were under suspension at the time. . . .  The only additional element required to prove a violation of subsection (c) is the requirement that the suspension at issue be on account of a violation of one of our statutes prohibiting the operation of motor vehicles by intoxicated operators." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.)  State v. Cook, 36 Conn. App. 710, 715 (1995).

Affirmative defense
That the defendant was operating the vehicle within the parameters of a work permit issued pursuant to 14-37a is an affirmative defense which the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence.  State v. Valinski, 254 Conn. 107 (2000); see also State v. Davidson, 57 Conn. App. 541, 548 (2000) (the penalties provided in 14-37a for operating a motor vehicle outside the scope of the permit do not preclude a conviction under 14-215).

Subsequent offenders
General Statutes 14-215 (b) and (c) provides for an enhanced sentence if the defendant has certain prior convictions.  Pursuant to Practice Book 36-14, the prior conviction must be charged in a Part B information so that the jury is unaware of the prior conviction during the trial on the current charge. If a guilty verdict is returned, the jury must then be instructed on the second part of the information. See Subsequent Offenders, Instruction 2.12-2.

Lesser included offenses
Section 14-215 (a) is a lesser included offense of 14-215 (c).  State v. Cook, supra, 36 Conn. App. 710; State v. Jacobsen, 31 Conn. App. 797 (1993), aff'd, 229 Conn. 824 (1994).

Other statutes
If a person's license has been suspended for a definite period of time, once that period ends, the person is required to apply for reinstatement of the license.  Operating a motor vehicle after the period of suspension has ended but without applying for reinstatement is punishable under 14-215b.  See State v. Rodriguez, 151 Conn. App. 120 (2014), for a discussion distinguishing the two.

If a person's license has been suspended under 14-140, operating during that suspension is punishable under 14-215a.


Attorneys | Case Look-up | Courts | Directories | Educational Resources | E-Services | Español | FAQs | Juror Information | Media | Opinions | Opportunities | Self-Help | Home

Common Legal Words | Contact Us | Site Map | Website Policies and Disclaimers

Copyright © 2016, State of Connecticut Judicial Branch