Vermont DUI Per Se Laws
In Vermont, there are two possible charges a driver can face if arrested for Driving Under the Influence: a DUI Per Se charge and a DUI charge. The difference in the two has to do with how the arresting officer determined your level of intoxication.
DUI Per Se Charge
A DUI Per Se charge is issued if a driver fails one of the two chemical tests (blood or breath) legally used to determine a driver's Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Drivers who are found to be over the limit of .08 can be arrested and eventually convicted on that evidence alone, whether they appeared intoxicated or not.
Officers have the right to arrest drivers they suspect to be drinking and driving if they deem their behavior and/or driving capabilities as probable cause. If the arrest is made based on the opinion of the officer rather than a chemical test, the driver will be given a DUI charge versus a DUI Per Se charge.
Often times a field sobriety test, which tests a driver's coordination, reaction time and other fine motor skills, will be used as evidence for a DUI charge. However, traffic violations, the smell of alcohol on a driver's breath and other reasons can be used as well.
Disputing Chemical Test Evidence
While both types of DUI charges are serious, a DUI Per Se charge is significantly harder to fight in court based on the nature of the evidence. Because the chemical tests evaluate your level of intoxication using regulated medical and electronic devices, and because the results are trusted by law enforcement agencies all across the country, they stand up in court as highly reliable evidence.
This being said, there are a few ways to argue against a DUI Per Se case such as proving that the equipment used during the test was faulty or that there was not probable cause for the officer to pull over the driver in the first place.
DUI charges that are based on the opinion of the arresting officer lend themselves to being argued more effectively in court because the methods, procedures and lack of probable cause can all be debated and taken into account.
If convicted, both charges usually result in possible jail time, large fines, license suspension, and more. It is important to note that some officers will charge drivers with both DUI and DUI Per Se charges to ensure a conviction is made.