Frequently Asked Questions about TASP

  1. I received a Notice of Violation for underage drinking. What will happen now?
  2. What are the benefits of participating in the Teen Alcohol Safety Program (TASP)?
  3. I lost my paperwork. Where do I call?
  4. What does participating in TASP involve?
  5. Do I have to participate in TASP?
  6. What costs are associated with the program?
  7. How long does it take to complete the program?
  8. What is involved in a substance abuse assessment?
  9. What happens after the assessment?
  10. How do I find a substance abuse counselor?
  11. What happens if I live far away?
  12. I am concerned about privacy. Is the process confidential?
  13. Do my parents need to know?
  14. What happens if I don’t contact the Diversion office or go through TASP?
  15. Why would my license be suspended if I wasn’t driving?
  16. I was driving and the officer gave me other paperwork. Does the Teen Alcohol Safety Program cover that ticket also?
  17. I received a Traffic Violation ticket along with the Notice to Report. Does the TASP cover that ticket also?
  18. What happens after I have completed the Teen Alcohol Safety Program?
  19. How do I answer questions when applying for a job or completing other applications?
  20. What happens if I get caught with alcohol again?
  21. How is the Teen Alcohol Safety Program different from Diversion?

1. I received a Notice of Violation for underage drinking. What will happen now?

You should contact the Diversion office in the county where you received the Notice within 15 days of being given the Notice by the law enforcement officer.  You may call or go by the office. Contact information is on the paperwork, the Notice of Violation that the law enforcement officer gave you. The Diversion office will send you a Notice to Report after they receive the paperwork from law enforcement. A staff person may call you to schedule an appointment. If you don’t contact the Diversion office within 15 days, you will receive a Traffic Complaint (ticket) in the mail.

2. What are the benefits of participating in the Teen Alcohol Safety Program (TASP)?

By participating in TASP you will be held accountable for breaking the law without facing adverse consequences. You will also learn about the risks of drinking alcohol and how to make healthy decisions. By participating in TASP, you will be able to maintain your driver’s license, avoid an increase in auto insurance rates, and avoid a $300 fine and a $73 fee to reinstate your driver’s license.

See also FAQ #12: “I am concerned about privacy. Is the process confidential?”

3. I lost my paperwork. Where do I call?

>>>See the contact information at the back of this pamphlet.<<< Contact the office in the county where you received the Notice of Violation. If you are not sure which county you were in, this page has information about which towns/cities are in which county.

4. What does participating in TASP involve?

Participating in TASP means that you agree to the following:

  • Provide information and agree to keep in contact with the TASP case manager.
  • Meet with a counselor to discuss how often and in what types of situations you drink alcohol and use other substances. (This is called a screening or assessment.)
  • Follow the recommendations the counselor makes after meeting with you.
  • Complete an educational class or activity and reflect on what you’ve learned about the risks of drinking alcohol.
  • Pay a fee of $175.
  • In some counties, you will be asked to do some volunteer work, or community service.

The TASP case manager will give you more details.

5. Do I have to participate in TASP?

No, the Teen Alcohol Safety Program is voluntary.

See also FAQ #4 for information about what the program entails, and FAQ #14 regarding what happens if you choose not to participate in the program.

6. What costs are associated with the program?

In addition to the fee of $175, you may need to pay for an educational program. There are also costs associated with a substance abuse assessment, which your health insurance may cover.  If you don’t have health insurance, talk with your case manager about which counselors have a sliding fee.

7. How long does it take to complete the program?

Most people complete the program within two months – some are able to finish more quickly, and others take longer. For example, if the counselor recommends that you do some substance abuse treatment, you may need more time to complete TASP.

8. What is involved in a substance abuse assessment?

You will meet with a licensed counselor for one or two confidential meetings. The counselor will ask you questions about your drinking and other information that helps the counselor to assess the risks you might face regarding substance abuse. Counselors use “evidence-based tools,” that is, they gather information that research has shown to be helpful in determining the likelihood that someone is at risk of having problems with alcohol and other substances.

9. What happens after the assessment?

After meeting with you, the counselor will make recommendations to you and the TASP case manager. These recommendations may include that you participate in an educational program or treatment. You must follow the recommendations in order to successfully complete the Teen Alcohol Safety Program.

10. How do I find a substance abuse counselor?

There are several ways to find a counselor who is licensed to provide substance abuse counseling. The TASP program has a list of counselors in the area. Other information sources include your doctor, a local hospital, your health insurance company, a college health center, or the U.S. Department of Health’s substance abuse treatment facility locator.

11. What happens if I live far away?

There are ways to accommodate people who live far away. Talk with the TASP case manager about options for participating in the program without coming to the office.

12. I am concerned about privacy. Is the process confidential?

Yes, everything you share with the TASP case manager and the licensed alcohol counselor is confidential. If you are under the age of 18, you will need the written consent of a parent or guardian to participate in the program. Both you and your parent or guardian will have to sign the contract and other paperwork.

Law enforcement and Diversion/TASP staff members, including those in other counties, can know that you received a Notice of Violation and whether you completed the program successfully or not. However, they may not know the details of conversations you had with Diversion/TASP staff members or the counselor. If you go to a counselor for an assessment, you will be asked to sign a release giving the counselor permission to tell the TASP case manager staff his or her recommendations after meeting with you.

13. Do my parents need to know?

If you are under the age of 18, your parent(s) need to know. You will need the written consent of your parent or guardian to participate in the program. Both you and your parent (guardian) will need to sign the contract and other paperwork.

If you are 18 or older, Diversion staff may not share any information with your parents unless you sign a written release allowing the case manager to communicate with your parent(s).

14. What happens if I don’t contact the Diversion office or go through TASP?

If you do not contact the Diversion office or choose not to participate in TASP, you will be issued a civil violation, or complaint (ticket). You will receive this ticket at the address you gave to the law enforcement officer. You then have these choices:

a. Mark on the ticket that you “admit,” include payment for the $300 fine in the envelope, and mail to the Judicial Bureau. Your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days in Vermont and throughout the US. All other states recognize this license suspension, and during this time, it is illegal for you to drive a car. After the 90-day suspension, you will need to pay the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) a reinstatement fee of $73 (as of March 2012). Automobile insurance companies have access to information about license suspension and it is possible that your, or your parent’s, auto insurance rates will increase.

b. If you think that the officer was in error in giving you the Notice to Report because you did not have any alcohol in your possession or you had not drunk any alcohol, you may wish to contest the ticket. Mark on the ticket “denied” and mail the envelope to the Judicial Bureau. The Judicial Bureau will then send you information about a hearing where you may argue your case before a judge.

c. You may contact the Diversion/TASP program and tell them that you have changed your mind and want to participate in TASP. Depending on the timing and other considerations, the Diversion staff member may be able to contact the law enforcement officer and make arrangements for you to participate.

15. Why would my license be suspended if I wasn’t driving?

Given the risks of underage drinking and the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities among young drivers, the Vermont legislature decided to include driver license suspension as a consequence for underage possession or consumption of alcohol.

16. I was driving and the officer gave me other paperwork. Does the Teen Alcohol Safety Program cover that ticket also?

No. These are separate violations with different sets of consequences.

If you were driving, you may have also received a Traffic Violation, a ticket, in addition to a Notice of Violation for possession or consumption of alcohol. This is often called a .02 ticket and it was issued because you were operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and when you took a Breathalyzer test, you blew between a .02 and .08 percent.

When the officer gave you the .02 ticket, the officer probably told you that you needed to send the ticket to the Judicial Bureau within 20 days. If you mark the ticket “admitted” or “no contest” and pay the fine, your driver’s license will be suspended for six months and you will be required to participate in an alcohol & driving education program at your own expense. Or you may contest the ticket if you think the officer was in error in giving you the ticket, by marking “denied” on the ticket and mailing it to the Judicial Bureau. The Judicial Bureau will then send you information about a hearing where you may argue your case before a judge. (See Vermont Statutes – 23 VSA 1216)

17. I received a Traffic Violation ticket along with the Notice to Report. Does the TASP cover that ticket also?

No, if you received a Traffic Violation, a ticket similar to a speeding ticket, in addition to a Notice of Violation for possession or consumption of alcohol, the ticket was for a separate violation. These are separate violations with different sets of consequences. If you were driving, see question #16.

You may have been given a ticket for using false identification to try to purchase alcohol. You must mail your answer to the Judicial Bureau within 20 days. If you mark the ticket “admitted” or “no contest” and pay the fine, your driver’s license will be suspended for 60 days. Or you may contest the ticket if you think you did not violate the law by marking “denied” on the ticket and mailing it to the Judicial Bureau. The Judicial Bureau will then send you information about a hearing where you may argue your case before a judge.

See Vermont Statutes – 23 VSA 203

18. What happens after I have completed the Teen Alcohol Safety Program?

When you have successfully completed the program, the TASP case manager will mail you a letter telling you that you have completed the program and that the original ticket was voided. The TASP staff person will notify the law enforcement officer and the Judicial Bureau that the ticket was voided.

19. How do I answer questions when applying for a job or completing other applications?

The specific wording of the question should guide your answer. If you are asked if you have broken a law, the answer is yes. However, if you are asked if you have ever been charged with a crime or have a criminal record, the answer is no — whether you completed TASP successfully or not. This violation of the law was a civil not a criminal matter, similar to a traffic ticket. Click here for more information.

20. What happens if I get caught with alcohol again?

There are several possibilities regarding what might happen if you are caught again, regardless of whether you completed TASP successfully or not. Law enforcement officers have access to the names of people given Notices of Violation for underage possession or consumption of alcohol, or attempting to procure alcohol.  In some counties, you may be given a Notice of Violation and the opportunity to participate in TASP for a second time. You may, on the other hand, be given a citation to appear in Criminal Court. The State’s Attorney, or county prosecutor, will then decide whether to prosecute your case. It is possible that the State’s Attorney will refer you to Court Diversion, which is a different program operated by the same agency that runs TASP.

21. How is the Teen Alcohol Safety Program different from Diversion?

The Teen Alcohol Safety Program is a program run by Vermont county Court Diversion agencies. TASP is only for people aged 16 and not yet 21 who violate Vermont’s underage alcohol laws. A law enforcement officer refers people in that age range who possess or consume alcohol by giving them a Notice of Violation.

If someone under the age of 16 is caught with alcohol, the law enforcement officer will cite the person into Family Division for the delinquent act of alcohol possession. The State’s Attorney, or county prosecutor, decides how to handle that case and may refer the young person to the Court Diversion program.

Court Diversion agencies also operate the Court Diversion program which is for people of all ages who have been charged with committing a crime or a delinquency. The State’s Attorney, or county prosecutor, decides who to refer to the Court Diversion program.