Drinking and driving is a serious public safety threat that Vermont lawmakers seek to eliminate. One of the primary ways that they discourage drivers from driving while high or drunk involves enforcing the state’s stringent DUI laws.
Motorists in Vermont can determine how best to avoid a DUI charge by knowing at what limit they are over the legal blood alcohol content level. They also can learn about the common penalties meted out for drivers who commit DUI in Vermont.
DUI in Vermont
Vermont defines driving under the influence or DUI as operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content or BAC level of 0.08 percent or higher. This is the per se or standard definition of DUI in the state. It applies primarily to motorists who are 21 years of age and older and who drive or operate motor vehicles like cars, trucks and mopeds or motorcycles that they privately own.
The per se definition does not apply to underage or commercial drivers. Both of these category of driver are held to lower BAC standards in Vermont.
A commercial driver cannot get behind the wheel of his or her commercially owned vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher. If the driver is arrested for DUI in Vermont, he or she can lose the CDL for a year or longer.
Underage drivers likewise are not allowed to drive while high or drunk. The state has a zero tolerance DUI law for drivers under the age of 21. While technically they cannot drive with any detectable amount of drugs or alcohol in their system, they will not be arrested or charged with a DUI if their BAC is under 0.02 percent.
The DUI law in Vermont also allows for aggravated or enhanced DUI penalties. The BAC limit for an aggravated charge is 0.16 percent or higher. Drivers with this high of a BAC can face harsher penalties under the state’s DUI laws.
DUI Penalties in Vermont
Vermont judges hand out various punishments to DUI offenders in the state. A first-time DUI offense leads to a jail sentence of up to two years and a fine of up to $750.
A second DUI conviction results in steeper penalties like up to two years in jail and a fine of $1500. The offender must serve at least 60 hours behind bars and also serve up to 200 hours of community service after his or her release.
A third conviction of DUI in Vermont results in up to five years in jail with at least 96 hours being mandatory. The fine also increases to $2500.
People convicted of aggravated DUI face the same punishments as standard DUI offenders. However, they are prohibited from driving with a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher for the next three years after their convictions.
If DUI offenders cause bodily harm or death during the time that they commit the DUI, they can face fines of up to $10,000 and serve up to 15 years behind bars. The aggravated DUI charge also does not exempt them from being charged with and punished for additional crimes like vehicular assault or vehicular manslaughter.
Vermont DUI Drivers’ license Suspension and IID Use
People who are convicted of DUI in Vermont also stand to lose their driving privileges. The amount of time that their licenses are suspended depend on the number of prior DUIs that they have on their records.
A first-time offender can lose his or her license for 90 days or one year if he or she caused injury or death to someone else. A second offender loses his or her license for 18 months while a third offender has his or her license suspended for a lifetime.
Offenders can apply for a restricted license during their suspension periods, however. They must agree to use an ignition interlock device or IID on all of their vehicles at their own expense. They also must enroll in a drug or alcohol abuse treatment program.
Finally, they must serve at least a portion of their suspension period before getting a restricted license that lets them drive to and from work, school or a recovery program. First-time offenders must serve at least 30 days of their license suspensions while a second-time offender must satisfy at least 90 days of the suspension period. Third and subsequent offenders as well as those who cause injury or death must wait at least one year before requesting an IID-restricted license from the state. DUI offenders can face severe legal penalties for driving under the influence in Vermont. They can serve time in jail and lose their driving privileges. They also may be forced to pay civil fines and use an IID on all of their vehicles for up to a year or longer.