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Vermont DUI Laws

Vermont has strict laws against driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). A DUI is a serious charge. Drugged and drunk driving causes thousands of traffic fatalities each year. Each death is preventable. Vermont's impaired driving laws aim at protecting you and those around you.

Mistakes happen. Maybe you don't feel intoxicated. Vermont's State Highway Office estimates a DUI charge can cost you over $10,000 in fines, fees, lost wages, and other costs. If you face a DUI charge, you will have many questions. Below, FindLaw explains the law and possible penalties.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent
"Per Se" BAC Limit 0.08%
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.02%
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit 0.16%
Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test? Yes
Select Penalties
Minimum License Suspension or Revocation (1st, 2nd, 3rd offense) 90 days / 18 months/ permanent
Mandatory Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Both
Vehicle Confiscation Possible? Yes, 3rd offense
Ignition Interlock Device Possible? Yes

Disclaimer: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, ballot initiatives, rulings in the higher courts, including federal decisions, and by other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state laws you are researching.

Vermont DUI Law

Vermont's DUI law covers a wide range of dangerous, intoxicated driving situations. In Vermont, it is illegal to drive, attempt to operate, or be in actual physical control of a vehicle if:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08%
  • Your BAC is 0.02% when driving a school bus
  • Your BAC is 0.04% when operating a commercial vehicle
  • You are under the influence of alcohol
  • You're under the influence of drugs
  • You're under the influence of drugs and alcohol

Under the law, a police officer can arrest you on a DUI charge if your chemical tests show you are at or above the legal limit. You may also face arrest if you are below the legal limit but show signs of impairment or if you have any amount of illegal drugs in your system. Being "under the influence" means you aren't able to operate your vehicle with the care and caution of a sober person.

You don't have to be driving to face arrest. If you are trying to start your vehicle while intoxicated, an officer can arrest you. An officer may charge you for sitting in the driver's seat of a vehicle while impaired. The definition of a vehicle includes snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.

Per Se DUI Offense

If your BAC is at or above 0.08%, and you are over 21, you face a per se DUI offense. A per se offense needs only proof that the amount of alcohol in your body is 0.08% or more. Unless you are a commercial driver, the limit is 0.04%. If you are driving a bus, the limit is 0.02%. A police officer does not need additional evidence of impairment. You may feel fine and were driving carefully. If your chemical test results show you are at or above the legal limit, the law says you're intoxicated.

Can I Refuse To Take a Chemical Test in Vermont?

You can refuse chemical tests, but there are consequences. If you refuse to give a sample, the state of Vermont will suspend or revoke your driver's license for at least six months. If you refuse chemical tests a second time, you will be criminally charged. You also face a criminal charge if you refuse chemical tests after an accident that causes serious bodily injury or death to another person.

When you receive your driver's license, you agree to provide a chemical sample should a police officer request one. This is a part of your agreement to follow Vermont's laws against drugged and drunk driving safely. It is an "implied consent law." This means you have consented to submit to an evidentiary breath test, urine, or blood test when law enforcement has a reasonable suspicion you are driving intoxicated.

You have the right to consult with an attorney before submitting to a chemical test. You have a 30-minute limit to reach the attorney. If you cannot consult an attorney within this time, you must either consent or refuse testing.

Law enforcement may introduce evidence of your refusal in court.

Enhanced and Aggravated DUI

You face an enhanced DUI charge if you have two DUIs with a BAC of 0.16% or more. Your penalties include driver's license revocation for three years and the penalties for a second or subsequent offense.

An aggravated DUI charge is when you cause serious bodily injury as a result of your DUI. You face up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $5,000 for each individual injured. These penalties increase if you have prior DUIs.

Law enforcement can charge you with an aggravated DUI or manslaughter if your DUI results in the death of another person. You will serve a mandatory minimum of one year in jail, with up to 15 possible, and $10,000 in fines for each fatality.

DUI Penalties

After a DUI conviction, the judge may order you to undergo a substance abuse assessment. The results of this assessment can influence how the judge sentences you. The judge may order you to complete a treatment program or add more requirements.

Vermont's DUI laws also carry mandatory minimum penalties. For a first offense, you face a misdemeanor charge. Penalties for conviction can include:

  • Fine up to $750
  • $160 in surcharges
  • Up to two years jail time

A second offense within 20 years is a serious misdemeanor charge. Penalties increase to include:

  • Fines up to $1,500
  • $160 in surcharges
  • Minimum of 60 hours in jail with two years possible
  • 60 hours of jail time may be served as 200 hours of community service

A third offense, with one prior DUI occurring within the last 20 years, is a felony charge. If convicted, you face:

  • Fines up to $2,500
  • $160 in surcharges
  • Up to five years in jail
  • Mandatory minimum of 96 consecutive hours in jail
  • Possible forfeiture and sale of your vehicle

A fourth and subsequent offense carries up to 10 years in jail with a mandatory minimum of 192 consecutive hours of jail time and $5,000 in fines.

Administrative License Suspension

Along with criminal consequences, you will also have administrative penalties. The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will oversee this aspect of your DUI.

Your driver's license is immediately suspended for six months when you refuse chemical tests. You have seven days before the suspension goes into effect. You may request an administrative hearing to challenge your suspension.

This driver's license suspension is separate from your criminal charge. Your license remains suspended even if your DUI gets dismissed or you're found not guilty.

License Suspension After Conviction

Following your conviction, the court notifies the DMV. Your license suspension is for a set length of time or until you complete all requirements for license reinstatement.

The DMV will suspend your driver's license for 90 days for a first DUI conviction. A second DUI conviction will give you an 18-month license suspension. A third DUI will cost you your driving privileges for life.

To have your driving privileges reinstated, you will need to complete the Alcohol and Driving Education Program or Impaired Driver Rehabilitation Program (IDRP). If your assessment and screening indicate you need substance abuse treatment, you also need to complete or be actively involved in treatment.

Ignition Interlock Device

You may apply for an ignition interlock-restricted driver's license. You can only drive vehicles with an ignition interlock device (IID) installed. An IID is a breath-testing device installed into your vehicle's ignition system.

You must provide a breath sample before you start your car. If the device detects alcohol, 0.02% or more, your vehicle won't start. It will also trigger your vehicle's horn and lights. The IID will have you provide additional samples at random during your drive to ensure your sobriety. Any violations recorded will extend your IID requirement.

You may apply for the IID license after 30 days for a first DUI. For a second DUI, you can apply after 90 days of suspension.

Underage DUI

It is illegal for minors to possess and drink alcohol. You face a traffic violation if you have a BAC of 0.02% or more. This is often called a zero-tolerance law for underage DUIs.

If your BAC is 0.08% or more or you have illegal drugs in your system, your charges are more serious. You will face adult penalties.

Penalties for a first underage DUI conviction include a six-month license suspension and the completion of the Impaired Driver Rehabilitation Program (IDRP).

Penalties for a second DUI include suspending your driver's license for one year or until you're 21, whichever period is longer.

Refusing to submit to a preliminary breath test or chemical testing is a violation. You will receive a ticket, and evidence of your refusal will be admissible in court.

DUI Resources:

Charged With a DUI in Vermont? Get Legal Help

A DUI isn't the end of the world, but it makes life more difficult. Your criminal record and driving record will be negatively impacted. If you want to learn more about your DUI charges, speak with a knowledgeable DUI attorney in Vermont. A DUI attorney can view your case and provide personalized legal advice on your options.

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