Government Police/Fire

State Representative from West Hartford Charged with DUI

West Hartford Police Department Interceptor SUV. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

State Rep. Jospeh Verrengia, who represents West Hartford’s 20th State House district, was charged Wednesday.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Police said they responded Wednesday to reports of a vehicle stopped in the travel lanes of New Park Avenue, with a man who appeared to be asleep at the wheel, and after investigating arrested the operator.

Joseph Verrengia, 55, who has represented West Hartford’s 20th district as a Democrat in the State House since 2011, was formerly a member of the West Hartford Town Council, and is a retired 25-year veteran of the West Hartford Police Department, was charged with one count of “operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” police said.

According to a press release issued by police Thursday, at 4:57 p.m. Wednesday three calls were made to 911 regarding a vehicle stopped in a southbound lane of New Park Avenue. Police said that callers reported that the driver “appeared to be asleep at the wheel.”

Callers provided police with a description of the driver, as well as details about the vehicle and the license plate.

The vehicle began moving again, but was spotted by nearby officers who observed the driver headed south on Colonial Street, and park at the address shown on the vehicle’s registration.

After being charged, Verrengia was released Wednesday.

Verrengia was stripped of his duties as chair of the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee Thursday.

In a statement Thursday, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington) said, “Rep. Verrengia recognizes the seriousness of the situation, but the fact remains he made a poor decision that put people at risk. Though thankfully no one was hurt, in light of these circumstances and as he deals with the legal and personal ramifications, I have suspended Rep. Verrengia from his chairmanship of the public safety committee.”

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