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Chemical Testing for DUI in Vermont

Under Vermont’s implied consent law every person who operates, attempts to operate, or is in physical control of any vehicle on a highway is deemed to have given consent to an evidentiary test of that person’s breath for the purpose of determining their alcohol concentration or presence of other drugs in the blood. This test is called the Preliminary Blood Test (PBT). If the officer has reasonable belief that the vehicle operator is intoxicated in anyway they may administer a PBT in order to determine if an arrest should be made and whether to request an evidentiary test. The motorist does not have the right to consult an attorney prior to submitting to this preliminary breath alcohol-screening test because of VT’s implied consent law.

Only a person who has been certified by the VT criminal justice training council to operate the breath testing equipment shall administer a breath test. Thus, a person tested with an infrared breath-testing instrument shall have the option of having a second test immediately after receiving the results of the first test. Also, the motorist may directed that the sample be sent to an independent laboratory of the person’s choosing fro an independent analysis at the motorists cost. A VT office also has the right to request a breath or blood sample in an adjoining state or country unless prohibited by the law of the other state or country, and this evidence may be admissible in court.

Lastly, if the officer’s request is reasonable and testing if refused, the person’s license or privilege to operate will be suspended for at least six months. If the motorist refuses to take an evidentiary test, the refusal may be offered into evidence against the person at trial and they may be charged with the crime of criminal refusal if they have previous DUI offenses or if a death or serious injury occurred. Also, if the test is taken and the results indicate that the person is under the influence of alcohol or other drug, the person will be subject to criminal charges and their license will be suspended for at least 90 days.

If breath-testing equipment is not reasonably available or if the officer has reason to believe that the person is unable to give a sufficient sample of breath for testing of the law or under the influence of a drug other than alcohol, the person is deemed to have given consent to the taking of an evidentiary sample of blood. Only a physician, licensed nurse, medical technician, physician’s assistant, medical technology, or laboratory assistant acting at the request of a law enforcement officer may perform the evidentiary blood test. This evidentiary blood test is also required if there was a fatal accident or the incident or collision resulted in serious bodily harm and the officer has reasonable belief that the operator of the vehicle has blood or alcohol within his or her system.

The motorist has the right to speak with an attorney before submitting a sample of blood. However, the decision as to whether or not they will submit a sample must be made within 30 minutes after the time the officer requested an evidentiary blood test. Refusal to submit a sample may be submitted as evidence in a criminal proceeding unless there was a fatality or serious bodily harm. If the motorist refuses to submit a sample in any of those situations the officer may apply for a search warrant to obtain a sample of blood for an evidentiary test.


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