Getting behind the wheel and driving while intoxicated is a crime throughout the United States. Vermont prohibits motorist from driving under the influence (DUI) and levies serious fines and jail time for offenders. The state's laws outline the specific blood alcohol content (BAC) allowed for adults, minors, and school bus and commercial drivers, the implied consent by all motorist to take a DUI test, and the penalties that are associated with any violations of these DUI Laws.
Vermont establishes BAC limits that presume a person is driving under the influence. If a driver produces an BAC of .08 or higher during a DUI test, the state will suspend the driver's license for a minimum of 90 days. If a driver's BAC is double the legal limit or over, Vermont DUI laws provide an enhanced sentence, including the possibility of the immobilization or the forfeiture of a driver's vehicle.
Vermont follows a "zero tolerance" policy for motorist under the age of 21, school bus drivers, and commercial drivers. To deter these type of drivers from driving under the influence, the state lowers the BAC limit of these drivers to .02. These violators may face stiffer sentences depending on the situation.
Implied Consent to DUI Tests
According to Vermont DUI laws, any person who operates, attempts to operate, or is in actual physical control of a vehicle on a Vermont highway is deemed to have given consent to an evidentiary test of that motorist's breath to determine his or her BAC. This evidentiary test is required when a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person was operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control of a vehicle with a BAC higher than the legal limit.
If the officer has reason to believe that the person is unable to give a sufficient breath test or if the law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is under the influence of illegal drugs, the person is deemed to have given consent to the taking of an evidentiary sample of the motorist's blood.
Consequences of Refusal to Take a Test
In Vermont, if a motorist is accused of driving under the influence and refuses to take a chemical test of their blood, breath or urine, his drivers license will be suspended or revoked.
First Refusal: 6 months drivers license suspension
Second Refusal: 18 months drivers license suspension
Third and Subsequent Refusals: Lifetime suspension of drivers license
Penalties and Sentencing
The harshness of penalties under Vermont DUI Laws depends on the driver's previous DUI infractions. The following is a breakdown of the jail time, fines, and suspensions associated with each offense.
First Offense: Up to two years in prison, up to a $750 fine, and 90 days drivers license suspension.
Second Offense: Up to two years in prison, up to a $1,500 fine, and 18 months drivers license suspension.
Third Offense: Up to five years in prison, up to a $2,500 fine, and lifetime revocation of drivers license.
Fourth and Subsequent Offenses: Up to 10 years in prison, up to $5,000 fine, and lifetime revocation of drivers license.
Treatment and Education Program
To ensure that violators understand the dangers of driving under the influence, a license will only be reinstated after the person has successfully completed an Alcohol and Driving Education Program. In this program, it will be determined if the driver requires further therapy. If the screening indicates that therapy is needed, then the motorist's license can only be reinstated after the person has satisfactorily completed or shown substantial progress in completing a therapy program.
In most cases, a driver can elect to operate their vehicle under an ignition interlock restricted drivers license. This restricted license allows a motorist to drive noncommercial vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device while the motorist's regular license is suspended or revoked due to a DUI offense.
An ignition interlock device connects to the starter or ignition of a vehicle. Before starting the vehicle, a driver must blow into the device and if the driver's BAC is at or over 0.02, the device will not allow the vehicle to start. The amount of time that a driver is required to use the ignition interlock device depends on the number of DUI offenses committed by the driver. Drivers can be granted a conditional reinstatement ahead of a normal eligibility date if they participate in this program.
Getting Legal Help
If you are facing a DUI charge in Vermont, think about seeking legal advice from a qualified Vermont DUI attorney to fully understand your rights. With competent legal representation, you can quickly get back into the driver's seat.