Vermont DUI Breath Test Refusal
Vermont, like all other states, abides by Implied Consent Laws, which means that anyone who chooses to operate a vehicle is automatically subject to state chemical testing for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Because a breath test is the only chemical intoxication test that can be administered on the roadside, it is the most commonly used, and therefore, the most commonly refused test.
Despite the Implied Consent Law, drivers still have to agree to testing before a breath test can be conducted. So technically, a driver can refuse testing, but the consequences for doing so are harsh and sometimes far outweigh a DUI conviction in and of itself.
Arresting officers are required by law to notify drivers of all the legal consequences of refusing a breath test, or other chemical intoxication test, before the driver makes the ultimate decision. Officers are also required to allow suspected drunk drivers to call their attorney and seek advice before they agree or refuse the test.
Drivers who decide to refuse a breath test will automatically have their license suspended for 6 months, which is twice as long as the suspension term for a DUI conviction. If a driver is in a situation where they refuse a chemical test for the second time, their license will be suspended for 18 months. If there is a third refusal, a driver's license can be suspended for life, although they can apply for a Restricted Driver's License after one year. If they are granted an RDL, they will also be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device in their car.
Additionally, if a driver decides not to take a breath test, the refusal can be seen as probable cause and the officer can still make an arrest. Furthermore, the refusal can be used against the driver in court, as many judges view refusals as admissions of guilt.
Defending A Refusal
In Vermont, if a driver decides to refuse a breath test based on feelings that they were wrongfully asked, they can fight the immediate license suspension. However, if you plan on defending your decision to take a test, you must file a request for an Administrative License Suspension hearing within exactly seven days of the incident. Failing to do so within the time limit will result in the immediate suspension of your license for 6 months.