All those in the United States are subject to drunken driving laws. The
federal government sets a maximum blood alcohol content level at 0.08
percent. This percentage changes for those who are commercial drivers
and lowers to 0.04 percent. Since those under the age of twenty-one are
considered minors in regards to alcohol, a different blood alcohol
content level is set for these individual. Minors in Vermont are
permitted to have no more than blood alcohol content levels of 0.02
Driving under the influence offenses are the only criminal offense
where an arrest can be made solely on a police officer's opinion.
However a police officer is required to have probable cause for
stopping a motor vehicle. Under suspicion an arrest or stop can be made
if the individual is driving in two lanes at the same time, it making
very wide or very narrow turns, comes close to hitting another motor
vehicle, is drifting or weaving from one lane to another, is
continuously too close to another motor vehicle, is swerving, is
breaking abruptly, or is driving very slow.
When an individual obtains a driver's license in the United States, he
or she give implied consent to submit to chemical testing upon a
request. Chemical testing includes urine testing, breath testing, and
blood testing. If an individual refuses to submit to testing, he or she
will automatically be arrested and have his or her driver's license
This kind of suspension will exist whether or not the individual is
later convicted of driving under the influence. In a trial the jury or
the judge will assume the individual is guilty because of his or her
refusal to submit to testing. Driver's license suspension for test
refusal can be anywhere between thirty days and several months.
In Vermont the first two convictions of driving under the influence are
considered misdemeanor offenses. A third or subsequent driving under
the influence offense is considered a felony offense. All convictions
are based on prior offenses. Vermont does not have a wash out period,
so any previous drunken driving offense can be used to increase a
current offense, even if the prior offense was twenty years earlier.
A first driving under the influence offense can earn up to seven
hundred fifty dollars in fines, no less than ninety days of driver's
license suspension, no more than two years in jail, and mandatory
alcohol education courses. A second offense will have fines increased
to fifteen hundred dollars and driver's license suspension increased to
eighteen months with up to two hundred hours of community service.
A driving under the influence felony offense can have fines up to
twenty-five hundred dollars, up to five years in prison, the
possibility of driver's license expulsion, no less than four hundred
hours of community service, and motor vehicle immobilization. All fines
and incarceration sentences can increase if the circumstances of the
incident are dangerous. These can include driving with a minor in the
motor vehicle, driving over the speed limit, driving with a blood
alcohol content twice the legal limit, and harming another.