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Stopped for DUI in Vermont- 6 Things to Know

Stopped for DUI in Vermont: 6 Things to Know

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A driver who gets a DUI conviction could potentially have issues with alcohol – as opposed to making a one-time mistake –  as well as understanding the seriousness of drinking and driving. Lawmakers in Vermont addressed that issue by creating the Drinking Driver Rehabilitation Program. It’s known as the CRASH program and everyone who gets a DUI in the state must successfully complete the program in order to drive again in Vermont. The program consists of four classes that are each two and a half hours long. Experts teach the seriousness of alcohol or drug impairment and ask class members to examine their own driving habits and what led to their arrest.  Finally, resources for treatment, counseling and additional education are provided to class members.

Before reaching that point, however, if you are stopped for DWI in Vermont, here are six things every driver should know.

1.     Implied consent and sobriety testing

What is a field sobriety test? That involves a driver receiving instructions from a police officer to perform simple physical activities, such as standing on one leg. Criminal defense attorneys say the test is not a reliable measurement of whether someone is impaired and that drivers should politely decline to submit to the test. A chemical test involves analyzing the blood, urine or breath of a driver to determine the blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This test, usually performed at a police station, is much more scientifically accurate. Under the Implied Consent Law in Vermont, drivers are required to submit.

2.     Refusing the chemical test

There are two different ways to have your driver’s license suspended as a result of a DWI stop. One involves being convicted of drunken driving, which includes a three-month suspension in Vermont. The other way is to refuse to submit to a chemical test. The penalty is a six-month suspension for a first offense that jumps to 18 months.  In addition, you can still be convicted of DWI based on the testimony of the police officer as well as the fact that you chose to refuse the test, indicating, prosecutors will claim, that you knew you were impaired.

3.     Expect to be on camera

Is it possible for someone who is not legally impaired to look as if he or she is while being filmed? The answer to that question is why criminal defense attorneys recommend that every driver assume a DWI stop is being captured on video. In order not to help the state with its DWI case, attorneys say drivers should do little other than provide their identification, proof of insurance and vehicle registration when requested. Be polite, but it’s OK to decline to answer questions or to engage in a conversation with the police officer. In addition, a driver does not have to consent to a request to have her vehicle searched.  A driver should comply with a police order to get out of the car, however.

4.     More than .08 to worry about

In Vermont, there are three different legal limits for different classes of drivers. The most restrictive – .02 BAC – is for drivers under the age of 21. The idea is to establish good habits in the state’s youngest drivers. The legal limit isn’t much higher for commercial drivers – .04 – and the limit is .08 for all other adult drivers in the state.

5.     DUI penalties in Vermont

Judges have considerable discretion with DUI penalties in Vermont. For example, for a first offender, the penalties include a fine of up to $750, jail time of up to two years and a driver’s license suspension of up to three months. First offenders also will be required to undergo alcohol screening to determine if treatment is necessary, and a judge may order community service. The penalties increase for a second offense: a fine no greater than $1,500 and a driver’s license suspension of up to 18 months. For a third conviction, a minimum of 100 consecutive hours in jail is mandatory with a maximum of five years, a fine of up to $2,500 and the potential of a lifetime driver’s license suspension.

6.  Total cost of a DUI in Vermont

In addition to a fine for a first DWI conviction of up to $750, a driver must pay $300 for the Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Program, about $300 in court costs, $450 for the CRASH program and a $160 DUI surcharge to the state. In addition, the increased cost of insurance could amount to up to $5,000 over a 3-year period and the bill from a criminal defense attorney could range from $1,500 to $15,000. Other costs, more difficult to quantify, include the potential loss of employment because of a DWI conviction and the impact on credit standing.

This article is for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice you should consult an attorney.

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