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DUI Defenses in Vermont

Under Vermont law the defendant may assert as an affirmative defense that the person was not operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control of the vehicle because the person had no intention of placing the vehicle in motion and they had not placed the vehicle in motion while under the influence. Also, defendants may not use the defense that they are entitled to use a drug under the laws of Vermont to rebut a violation of the DUI law.

In defending against a DUI conviction a defendant may raise the issue that the officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the operator was intoxicated, thus making the investigation arbitrary. However, it is likely that the prosecutor will rely on the arresting police officer’s testimony about how the suspect was driving. A defense attorney may then raise the issue that there are many different explanations for several driving behaviors that are not related to being alcohol impaired. Also, a defense attorney may argue that the drivers personal behaviors are attributed to things that are not alcohol related, such as stress, tired, sick, etc.

One common defense against a field sobriety test is that some other non-alcohol related cause made it more difficult for the motorist to perform the said task correctly. For example, lack of sleep, medications, physical impairment or aging may make it more difficult to a driver to perform certain field sobriety tests. Another common defense against a field sobriety test is that it was arbitrary and unreasonable under the circumstances.

In defending against BAC one may raise the issue that the testing device was likely faulty through introducing expert testimony that the particular breath-testing machine used is known to malfunction. Also, a defense attorney will likely subpoena police records stating how the machine operates and how it is maintained and calibrated as a defense to show it’s not properly maintained or was improperly used. Also, the defense that there is no way to know if the results were accurate if your breath samples can not be independently tested may be raised. This defense usually only arises when the physical breath tests aren’t preserved as evidence, allowing for independent testing later.


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