Vermont DUI Laws and Penalties

The consequences of a drunk driving conviction in Vermont.

In Vermont, you can get a DUI (driving under the influence) for operating, attempting to operate, or being in physical control of a vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater, or
  • while under the influence of any alcohol, controlled substance, or a combination thereof to the extent that it impairs your driving ability.

In other words, you can get a DUI based on your BAC (called a “per se” DUI) or the effects that drugs or alcohol had on you.

Vermont DUI Penalties

When a person is convicted of a DUI, the judge will decide the appropriate penalties but is required to stay within guidelines based on the number of prior offenses—including out-of-state offenses.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

2-year maximum

2-year maximum (minimum 60 hours jail or 200 hours community service)

5-year maximum (minimum 96 hours jail)

Fines

$750 maximum

$1,500 maximum

$2,500 maximum

License suspension

90 days (1 year if injury)

18 months

Lifetime

Deaths and injuries. Generally, a DUI that involves an injury or death can result in up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $5,000 to $10,000. And the driver can still be charged with vehicular assault or vehicular manslaughter.

High blood alcohol. Special rules apply to drivers who are convicted of a second DUI with a BAC of .16% or greater. For three years after conviction, the offender will be subject to a .02% BAC limit while driving. If the offender is caught driving with a BAC of .02% or greater during this time period, it will be considered a DUI violation.

Driver’s License Penalties and Implied Consent

Generally, Vermont DUI offenders are subject to driver’s license consequences at the time of arrest and after a conviction.

At the time of a DUI arrest, Vermont’s “implied consent” law allows an officer to request a breath or blood test to determine the amount of alcohol or drugs in the person’s system. This law specifies that all Vermont drivers have implicitly consented to such testing by the act of driving in the state. An unlawful refusal of a BAC test will result in sanctions.

If the driver refuses testing or produces a BAC of .08% or greater, the officer is supposed to send notice to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. The Commissioner will suspend the driver’s license for six months for a refusal and 90 days for a failure. Any subsequent violation will result in an 18-month suspension.

Additionally, after a DUI conviction, notice will be sent to the commissioner to likewise suspend the driver’s license. The driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days for a first offense, 18 months for a second offense, and permanently for a third offense.

However, the two suspensions are allowed to overlap.

Ignition interlock devices. Drivers suspended for a DUI-related incident can apply for an ignition interlock device (IID) license. This license allows the holder to drive during the suspension period, but only with an installed IID. The applicant must pay a fee and, before applying, must complete a minimum suspension period of 30 days for a first offense, 90 days for a second offense, and one year for a third offense or DUI involving an injury or death.

Reinstatement. To be eligible for license reinstatement, the convicted driver must comply with all court orders, pay all fines, complete the suspension period, and be free of any pending criminal charges. Additionally, reinstatement requires:

  • First offense: Completion of the alcohol and driving education program, followed by a successful assessment.
  • Second offense: Completion of the alcohol and driving rehabilitation program and proof of substantial progress in therapy.
  • Third offense: Completion of the alcohol and driving rehabilitation program, proof of substantial progress in therapy, and three years of proven abstinence and IID compliance.

Underage DUI

Drivers who are under the age of 21 and are caught driving with a BAC of at least .02% or who unlawfully refuse testing can be charged with a zero-tolerance violation. If found in violation, the driver faces a six-month suspension for a first offense and suspension until age 21 for a second offense. An underage driver can still be charged with a standard DUI if in violation of the normal DUI laws.

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