Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Vermont

In the state of Vermont, it is a crime for anyone to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medication if it impairs one’s driving abilities. The definition of a motor vehicle includes any type of motorized vehicle like boats, snowmobiles and all terrain vehicles as well as cars and trucks.

Drivers arrested for drunk driving in Vermont face both criminal and civil penalties. Either or both can result in a loss of driving privileges for the offender. The duration of the license suspension for a first driving while intoxicated conviction is 90 days. A second criminal conviction will cause the offender’s license to be suspended for 18 months. Drivers convicted of a third DWI in Vermont face a lifetime loss of driving privileges. These penalties are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the criminal repercussions.

The fines and jail terms for first, second and third convictions for driving while intoxicated in Vermont are detailed below.

First Offense DWI

Even a first offense DWI can result in a two-year prison term and a $750 fine. The 90-day suspension of driving privileges is mandatory and an offender’s license can only be reinstated after their enrollment in the state drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, known as the CRASH Program.

Second Offense DWI

A sentence of up to two years is possible for a second conviction also, but 48 hours of jail time is mandatory. The maximum fine is doubled to $1,500. Offenders lose their driving privileges for 18 months and must perform 200 hours of community service.

Third Offense DWI

A third conviction for DWI in Vermont is a felony with a maximum fine of $2,500.00. A judge may impose a five year jail term as well. There are also 400 hours of community service required for a third offense conviction.

A DWI that results in a person’s death carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or a mandatory prison term of between one and 15 years. An DWI with an accident that results in serious bodily injury is also a felony charge.

Additional fees and surcharges will also be imposed by the courts, including:

  • $60 to the Department of Health Laboratory Services
  • $50.00 to the public defender fund
  • $50.00 to the DUI enforcement fund
  • $17.50 for the violation of any motor vehicle law

The CRASH Program

After an alcohol-related conviction, offenders must enroll in and complete a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in order to remain in compliance with their sentencing requirements and get their driver’s licenses reinstated. The program is designed to teach participants how their use of alcohol and other drugs impairs their driving skills and negatively affects their behavior, getting them into trouble.

Law enforcement, prosecutors and judges in Vermont take driving while intoxicated very seriously and vigorously target and prosecute offenders to keep the highways safer for everyone. Those who get arrested for DWI may wish to retain the counsel of a criminal defense attorney.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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