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Vermont Drugged Driving

In Vermont, a person is guilty of DUI if he or she operates any vehicle on a highway when the person is under the influence of any drug or under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree which renders the person incapable of driving safely. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 1201(a)(3)(a) (West 2010).

Affirmative Defense

The fact that a person charged with a violation of this section is or has been entitled to use a drug under the laws of this state shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this section. Id. § 1201(d).

Implied Consent

  • Absent bodily harm stemming from incident or warrant compelling sample, if the person refuses to submit to an evidentiary test it shall not be given. Id. § 1202(b).
  • If the officer's request is reasonable and testing is refused, the person's license or privilege to operate will be suspended for at least six months. Id. § 1202 (d)(2).
  • State is entitled, in prosecution of a motorist for criminal refusal to submit to a breath test for determining blood-alcohol content, to use evidence of the refusal without violating the general Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Id. § 1202(b); State v. Morale, 811 A.2d 185 (2002).

Penalties

  • First offense – fine of not more than $750, or imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or both; mandatory $160 for related DUI surcharges; license/driving privileges suspended for a period of 90 days. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, §§ 1210(b),(h)-(j) (West 2010); Id. § 1206(a).
  • Second offense – fine of not more than $1,500, or imprisonment not more than 2 years, or both; at least 200 hours of community service shall be performed, or 60 consecutive hours of imprisonment; mandatory $160 for related DUI surcharges; license/driving privileges suspended for a period 18 months. Id. § 1208(a); Id. §§ 1210(c),(h)-(j).
  • Third and subsequent offense - fine of not more than $2,500, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both; at least 400 hours of community service, or 100 consecutive hours of the sentence of imprisonment; mandatory $160 for related DUI surcharges; license/driving privileges suspended for life. Id. §§ 1210(d),(h)-(j); Id. § 1208(b).

Sobriety Checkpoints

Vermont allows law enforcement officials to conduct sobriety checkpoints under both the state and federal constitutions.

  • Law enforcement officials conducting sobriety checkpoint do not necessarily have to have warrant, probable cause, or even articulable, individualized suspicion of illegal activity to justify an investigatory stop of motorist. State v. Martin, 496 A.2d 442 (Vt. 1985).

Case Law

State v. Rifkin, 438 A.2d 1122 (1981) -- Evidence was insufficient to support conviction for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drug since there was no expert testimony offered to prove that quantity allegedly consumed cannabis would have rendered defendant incapable of driving safely.






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