State House member restored to chairmanship after DUI program

Veteran state Rep. Joe Verrengia, D-West Hartford, has been reinstated as House chairman of the joint Public Safety and Security Committee of the General Assembly, following completion of education programs for first-time DUI offenders.

A veteran state representative from West Hartford has been reappointed to head the legislative committee that oversees state gambling and alcohol regulation, after successfully completing programs for first-time DUI offenders.

Rep. Joe Verrengia, a retired police officer will return as co-chairman of the Public Safety and Security Committee next month when the General Assembly begins its short,13-week budget-adjustment session.

Last October, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz stripped Verrengia, 55, of the chairmanship, after West Hartford police arrested him on drunken driving charges when his vehicle was found stopped in a travel lane of a local road. Verrengia was found asleep at the wheel.

“Representative Verrengia has been reinstated as public safety chair, where the main challenge this year will be to deal with the statewide gaming issues” said Larry Perosino, spokesman for Aresimowicz. “He’s successfully completed his assigned responsibilities, as required.”

First time DUI offenders face at least partial license suspension, alcohol education classes and a panel sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He also needs to maintain a clean driving record until next October. The case against him has not been dismissed, Perosino said.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Verrengia said Thursday. “I did complete the two things under my control at this point. There was a requirement to attend a MADD panel, which was personally a very impactful group with families who lost loved ones to drunken driving. I also took it upon myself to exceed the number of alcohol education hours. I have taken this very seriously from day one.”

His license was suspended for 45 days and was finally restored on New Year’s Eve, although Verrengia was allowed to use his vehicle for work. Now he will use an interlock system on his vehicle for the next six months.

Verrengia, a state representative since 2001, retired as a sergeant with the West Hartford Police Department after 25 years of service.

The Public Safety Committee is the main panel of the General Assembly to deal with casino gambling, the lottery and state liquor laws.

Connecticut Media Group