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Elements of DUI in Vermont

The first element of a DUI in the state of VT is the operation of a vehicle. Under VT statutory law operation is defined as any driving or attempt to operate the vehicle, regardless if the attempt was successful. Thus, a motorist may be convicted of a DUI even if the vehicle is not in motion. A vehicle, as defined by VT law is any size or shape vehicle that is driven by motor power. For example snowmobiles and go-carts are considered vehicles in terms the DUI law.

The second element of a DUI in VT is the motorists Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), which is measured usually by a Breathalyzer test and is either the number of grams of alcohol per 100 millimeters of blood or per 210 liters of breath. The legal limit in Vermont is 0.08 for an ordinary driver, 0.04 if the vehicle is a commercial vehicle, and 0.02 if the operator is under the legal drinking age or if the vehicle is a school bus. In VT, an alcohol or drug is considered any drug regulated by the law or any substance which effects the nervous system, brain or muscles as to impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Another element of a DUI in Vermont is that the vehicle must be operated on a highway. Under VT statutory law a highway is any publicly used area open temporarily or permanently to public or general circulation of vehicles. The law excludes the private driveway of the operator unless death, serious bodily harm or damage to another person’s property occurs. However, case law has shown that if the driveway is not restricted in any way it may be considered a public highway.

The fourth element of a DUI in Vermont is the reasonable belief of the officer that the motorist was operating or attempting to operate a vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs other than alcohol. This reasonable belief of the officer is the grounds for administering a chemical test to the motorist in order to measure his or her BAC. This reasonable belief is set forth in an affidavit created by the arresting officer.

The fifth element of the DUI is the suspension of the motorist’s license. This can be automatic if the operator of the vehicle refuses to perform a preliminary chemical test. However, it can be effective eleven days after the operator receives the notice or if the operator requests a hearing and the commission finds against the defendant the suspension is then effective.


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