VERMONT DUI PROCESS: HOW IT WORKS
After The Arrest
The police officer will have given you a Citation (pink color), Datamaster evidence ticket (pink color) and Notice of Intention to Suspend (white and yellow copies). The citation is an order for you to appear in court. The Datamaster evidence ticket shows your blood alcohol level (B.A.C.) result, and other particulars about the Datamaster breath testing machine that analyzed your breath.
The Notice of Intention to Suspend (white copy) must be mailed to the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles within 7 days of the date that the arresting officer either hand delivered or mailed the notice to you. If you do not mail the request for a hearing within 7 days, you lose the right to contest the suspension of your license or driving privileges in Vermont. The yellow copy is your temporary license. It is extremely important to know that the civil suspension process is entirely different and separate from the criminal DWI charge. It is easier for the State to win a Civil Suspension Hearing than obtain a DWI conviction. You can lose your Vermont license or driving privileges through the civil suspension process without being convicted of DWI For more information regarding the civil suspension process click here.
This is the date given in your citation for you to appear in court to answer the DWI charge. It will also be the Preliminary Hearing for the Civil Suspension case, where the State must turn over any documents concerning your DWI arrest and processing that it intends to use at the Final Civil Suspension Hearing. The arraignment itself only takes 5 minutes, but your case will be one of many also scheduled to be heard that day.
If you live out of State and hire me to represent you I may be able to avoid your having to travel to Court for the arraignment or for other hearings as well. The arraignment date triggers a 31 day period during which any challenges to the evidence in the DWI and Civil Suspension cases must be filed.
Motions Hearing/Civil Suspension Final Hearing
Based upon the documents provided by the State at arraignment, the video and/or audio of the DWI arrest and processing, and any other source of information, motions may be filed and a hearing scheduled. This will allow for attack against the State's evidence concerning the legality of the stop, the admissibility of the breath test, or some other element of the State's case. There are also important evidentiary issues which the judge may be asked to rule on at this time.
Often the Motions Hearing is combined with the Civil Suspension Final Hearing, where the State will ask the judge to suspend your Vermont license or driving privileges. At the end of this hearing, the judge will either issue an oral decision from the bench or write a written ruling based upon testimony and evidence from the hearing. It normally takes 30 to 60 days for the judge to issue a written decision.
Calendar Call and Trial
Your case will come up for Calendar Call (Status Conference) every 3 weeks unless there are pending motions in your case. At Calendar Call there will be discussions with the State's Attorney regarding settlement of the DWI and Civil Suspension charges. If these negotiations are unsuccessful the case will be placed either on the next scheduled Calendar Call or on a jury trial list. It normally takes several months for a DWI case to be given a date certain for jury selection and trial
In Vermont, very few cases actually get tried to a jury. If your driver's license or non-resident driving privileges are suspended by the judge after the Civil Suspension Hearing, you may be eligible for reinstatement before your DWI case even is heard by a jury. Vermont law does provide that time spent under suspension due to a Civil License Suspension is credited toward any license or driving privilege suspension arising from a DWI conviction.