The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 23: Motor Vehicles

Chapter 7: REGISTRATION

Sub-Chapter 4: Registration Of Dealers And Transporters

23 V.S.A. § 453. Fees and number plates



§ 1205. Civil suspension; summary procedure

(a) Refusal; alcohol concentration above legal limits; suspension periods.

(1) Upon affidavit of a law enforcement officer that the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the person was operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control of a vehicle in violation of section 1201 of this title and that the person refused to submit to a test, the Commissioner shall suspend the person's operating license, or nonresident operating privilege, or the privilege of an unlicensed operator to operate a vehicle for a period of six months and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title. However, a person may operate under the terms of an ignition interlock RDL issued pursuant to section 1213 of this title after 30 days of this six-month period unless the alleged offense involved a collision resulting in serious bodily injury or death to another.

(2) Upon affidavit of a law enforcement officer that the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the person was operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control of a vehicle in violation of section 1201 of this title and that the person submitted to a test and the test results indicated that the person's alcohol concentration was above a limit specified in subsection 1201(a) of this title, at the time of operating, attempting to operate, or being in actual physical control, the Commissioner shall suspend the person's operating license, or nonresident operating privilege, or the privilege of an unlicensed operator to operate a vehicle for a period of 90 days and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title. However, a person may operate under the terms of an ignition interlock RDL issued pursuant to section 1213 of this title after 30 days of this 90-day period unless the alleged offense involved a collision resulting in serious bodily injury or death to another.

(3) Upon affidavit of a law enforcement officer that the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the person was operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control of a vehicle in violation of subdivision 1201(d)(2) of this title and that the person submitted to a test and the test results indicated that the person's alcohol concentration was 0.02 or more at the time of operating, attempting to operate, or being in actual physical control, the Commissioner shall suspend the person's operating license, or nonresident operating privilege, or the privilege of an unlicensed operator to operate a vehicle for life. However, a person may operate under the terms of an ignition interlock RDL issued pursuant to section 1213 of this title after one year of this lifetime suspension unless the alleged offense involved a collision resulting in serious bodily injury or death to another.

(b) Form of officer's affidavit. A law enforcement officer's affidavit in support of a suspension under this section shall be in a standardized form for use throughout the State and shall be sufficient if it contains the following statements:

(1) The officer is a certified law enforcement officer.

(2) The officer who administered the test was certified to operate the testing equipment.

(3) The officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control of a vehicle in violation of section 1201 of this title (noting the time and date of operating, attempting to operate or being in actual physical control).

(4) The officer informed the person of his or her rights under subsection 1202(d) of this title.

(5) The officer obtained an evidentiary test (noting the time and date the test was taken) and the test indicated that the person's alcohol concentration was above a legal limit specified in subsection 1201(a) or (d) of this title, or the person refused to submit to an evidentiary test.

(6) The officer complied with the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. § 501 et seq.).

(7) The officer confirmed the person's correct mailing address.

(c) Notice of suspension. On behalf of the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, a law enforcement officer requesting or directing the administration of an evidentiary test shall serve notice of intention to suspend and of suspension on a person who refuses to submit to an evidentiary test or on a person who submits to a test the results of which indicate that the person's alcohol concentration was above a legal limit specified in subsection 1201(a) or (d) of this title, at the time of operating, attempting to operate, or being in actual physical control of a vehicle in violation of section 1201 of this title. The notice shall be signed by the law enforcement officer requesting the test. A copy of the notice shall be sent to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and a copy shall be mailed or given to the defendant within three business days of the date the officer receives the results of the test. If mailed, the notice is deemed received three days after mailing to the address provided by the defendant to the law enforcement officer. A copy of the affidavit of the law enforcement officer shall also be mailed first class mail or given to the defendant within seven days of the date of notice.

(d) Form of notice. The notice of intention to suspend and of suspension shall be in a form prescribed by the Supreme Court. The notice shall include an explanation of rights, a form to be used to request a hearing, and, if a hearing is requested, the date, time, and location of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court where the person must appear for a preliminary hearing. The notice shall also contain, in boldface print, the following:

(1) You have the right to ask for a hearing to contest the suspension of your operator's license.

(2) This notice shall serve as a temporary operator's license and is valid until 12:01 a.m. of the date of suspension. If this is your first violation of section 1201 of this title and if you do not request a hearing, your license will be suspended as provided in this notice. If this is your second or subsequent violation of section 1201 of this title, your license will be suspended on the 11th day after you receive this notice. It is a crime to drive while your license is suspended unless you have been issued an ignition interlock restricted driver's license.

(3) If you wish to request a hearing before the Criminal Division of the Superior Court, you must mail or deliver your request for a hearing within seven (7) days after (date of notice).

(4) If your request for a hearing is not mailed or delivered within seven (7) days after (date of notice), you waive your right to a hearing and your license will be suspended as provided in this notice.

(5) In order to request a hearing, sign the attached form and mail or deliver the form to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles at the address shown.

(6) If you are charged with a second or subsequent violation of section 1201 of this title, no person shall sell, transfer or encumber the title to a vehicle that may be subject to immobilization or forfeiture unless approved by the court in which the charge is filed for good cause shown.

(e) Effective date of suspension.

(1) First offense. Unless a hearing is requested, a suspension under this section of the license of a person who the officer has reasonable grounds to believe violated section 1201 of this title a first time becomes effective on the 11th day after the person receives notice or is deemed to have received notice under subsection (c) of this section. If a hearing is requested, a suspension shall not become effective unless the court orders a suspension after hearing as provided in this section.

(2) Second or subsequent offense. A suspension of a person's license under this section shall become effective on the 11th day after the person receives notice or is deemed to have received notice under subsection (c) of this section if:

(A) the officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person has violated section 1201 of this title; and

(B) after July 1, 1991, the person has:

(i) had his or her operator's license suspended pursuant to this section; or

(ii) been convicted of a violation of section 1201 of this title.

(f) Review by Superior Court. Within seven days following receipt of a notice of intention to suspend and of suspension, a person may make a request for a hearing before the Superior Court by mailing or delivering the form provided with the notice. The request shall be mailed or delivered to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, who shall then notify the Criminal Division of the Superior Court that a hearing has been requested and provide the state's attorney with a copy of the notice of intention to suspend and of suspension and the officer's affidavit.

(g) Preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing shall be held within 21 days of the alleged offense. Unless impracticable or continued for good cause shown, the date of the preliminary hearing shall be the same as the date of the first appearance in any criminal case resulting from the same incident for which the person received a citation to appear in court. The preliminary hearing shall be held in accordance with procedures prescribed by the Supreme Court.

(h) Final hearing.

(1) If the defendant requests a hearing on the merits, the court shall schedule a final hearing on the merits to be held within 21 days of the date of the preliminary hearing. In no event may a final hearing occur more than 42 days after the date of the alleged offense without the consent of the defendant or for good cause shown. The final hearing may only be continued by the consent of the defendant or for good cause shown. The issues at the final hearing shall be limited to the following:

(A) whether the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control of a vehicle in violation of section 1201 of this title;

(B) whether at the time of the request for the evidentiary test the officer informed the person of the person's rights and the consequences of taking and refusing the test substantially as set out in subsection 1202(d) of this title;

(C) whether the person refused to permit the test;

(D) whether the test was taken and the test results indicated that the person's alcohol concentration was above a legal limit specified in subsection 1201(a) or (d) of this title, at the time of operating, attempting to operate, or being in actual physical control of a vehicle in violation of section 1201 of this title, whether the testing methods used were valid and reliable, and whether the test results were accurate and accurately evaluated. Evidence that the test was taken and evaluated in compliance with rules adopted by the Department of Public Safety shall be prima facie evidence that the testing methods used were valid and reliable and that the test results are accurate and were accurately evaluated;

(E) whether the requirements of section 1202 of this title were complied with.

(2) No less than seven days before the final hearing, and subject to the requirements of Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 11, the defendant shall provide to the State and file with the court a list of the issues (limited to the issues set forth in this subsection) that the defendant intends to raise. Only evidence that is relevant to an issue listed by the defendant may be raised by the defendant at the final hearing. The defendant shall not be permitted to raise any other evidence at the final hearing, and all other evidence shall be inadmissible.

(i) Finding by the court. The court shall electronically forward a report of the hearing to the Commissioner. Upon a finding by the court that the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the person was operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control of a vehicle in violation of section 1201 of this title and that the person refused to submit to a test, or upon a finding by the court that the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the person was operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control of a vehicle in violation of section 1201 of this title and that the person submitted to a test and the test results indicated that the person's alcohol concentration was above a legal limit specified in subsection 1201(a) or (d) of this title, at the time the person was operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control, the person's operating license, or nonresident operating privilege, or the privilege of an unlicensed operator to operate a vehicle shall be suspended or shall remain suspended for the required term and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title. Upon a finding in favor of the person, the Commissioner shall cause the suspension to be canceled and removed from the record, without payment of any fee.

(j) Venue and conduct of hearings. Venue for proceedings under this section shall be in the territorial unit of the Superior Court where the offense is alleged to have occurred. Hearings under this section shall be summary proceedings conducted by the Criminal Division of the Superior Court without a jury and shall be subject to the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure only as consistent with this section. The State has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence. Affidavits of law enforcement officers, chemists of either party, or expert witnesses of either party shall be admissible evidence which may be rebutted by witnesses called by either party. The affidavits shall be delivered to the other party at least five days prior to the hearing.

(k) Appeal. A decision of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court under this section may be appealed as a matter of right to the Supreme Court. The suspension shall not be stayed pending appeal unless the defendant is reasonably likely to prevail on appeal.

(l) Access to information. In connection with a proceeding under this section the operator shall have access to all written statements and information in the possession and control of the State concerning the evidentiary test or tests, including without limitation the police report, processing forms, certification and affidavit, breath test results, police notes, and the names and addresses of witnesses. If the operator intends to rely on the independent analysis, the State shall have access to the test results from the independent analysis and names and addresses of all witnesses. No depositions or written interrogatories shall be permitted except in extraordinary circumstances.

(m) Second and subsequent suspensions. For a second suspension under this subchapter, the period of suspension shall be 18 months and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title. However, a person may operate under the terms of an ignition interlock RDL issued pursuant to section 1213 of this title after 90 days of this 18-month period unless the alleged offense involved a collision resulting in serious bodily injury or death to another. For a third or subsequent suspension under this subchapter, the period of suspension shall be life. However, a person may operate under the terms of an ignition interlock RDL issued pursuant to section 1213 of this title after one year of this lifetime suspension unless the alleged offense involved a collision resulting in serious bodily injury or death to another.

(n) Presumption. In a proceeding under this section, if at any time within two hours of operating, attempting to operate, or being in actual physical control of a vehicle a person had an alcohol concentration of above a legal limit specified in subsection 1201(a) or (d) of this title, it shall be a rebuttable presumption that the person's alcohol concentration was above the applicable limit at the time of operating, attempting to operate, or being in actual physical control.

(o) Use immunity. No testimony or other information presented by the defendant in connection with a proceeding under this section or any information directly or indirectly derived from such testimony or other information, may be used for any purpose, including impeachment and cross-examination, against the defendant in any criminal case, except a prosecution for perjury or giving a false statement.

(p) Suspensions to run concurrently. Suspensions imposed under this section or any comparable statute of any other jurisdiction and sections 1206, 1208, and 1216 of this title or any comparable statutes of any other jurisdiction, or any suspension resulting from a conviction for a violation of section 1091 of this title from the same incident, shall run concurrently and a person shall receive credit for any elapsed period of a suspension served in Vermont against a later suspension imposed in this State.

(q) Rules. The Supreme Court shall adopt rules ensuring the fairness of proceedings under this section.

(r) A person suspended under this section for a refusal shall be assessed a surcharge of $50.00 which shall be collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles prior to reinstatement of the person's driving privileges. The Department shall transfer the surcharge assessed under this subsection to the Public Defender Special Fund created in 13 V.S.A. § 5239 specifying the source of the moneys being deposited. All such moneys shall be used by the Office of the Defender General to cover the cost of providing statewide 24-hour legal services coverage as required by subsection 1202(g) of this title. After $40,000.00 has been deposited in the Public Defender Special Fund in a single fiscal year, all additional collected surcharges assessed under this subsection in that fiscal year shall be credited to the Governor's Highway Safety Commission for deposit in a DUI Enforcement Special Fund established and managed pursuant to 32 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 5. All such DUI Enforcement Special Fund receipts shall be used exclusively for statewide DUI enforcement and for no other purpose.

(s) [Repealed.]

(t) For a first offense, the time limits set forth in subsections (g) and (h) of this section are directive only, and shall not be interpreted by the court to be mandatory or jurisdictional.

(u) In any proceeding under this section, for cause shown, a party's chemist may be allowed to testify by telephone in lieu of a personal appearance. (Added 1969, No. 267 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; amended 1971, No. 14, § 9, eff. March 11, 1971; 1973, No. 79, § 5, eff. May 23, 1973; 1975, No. 103, § 2, eff. May 30, 1975; 1979, No. 58, § 1; 1981, No. 103, § 6; 1983, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1989, No. 68, § 5, eff. Dec. 1, 1989; 1991, No. 55, § 6; 1995, No. 77 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. March 21, 1996; 1995, No. 112 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. April 22, 1996; 1997, No. 56, §§ 4, 7, eff. Aug. 1, 1997; 1997, No. 117 (Adj. Sess.), § 16; 1999, No. 160 (Adj. Sess.), § 18, eff. May 29, 2000; 2001, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2009, No. 126 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. July 1, 2011; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 160; 2011, No. 46, § 8, eff. July 2, 2011; 2011, No. 56, §§ 4, 16, eff. March 1, 2012; 2011, No. 90 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 2013, No. 57, § 19.)