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Vermont DUI Laws

23 VSA 1201 et seq.

DUI Limits

§ 1201 prohibits driving with a BAC of .08 or higher.  This is the basic DUI standard.  As an alternative standard, 1201 prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol.  You can be charged and convicted of driving under the influence even if your BAC was under .08.  1201 also prohibits driving if you are under the influence of drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol.

1201 makes it illegal to refuse to take a DUI test in some circumstances:

  • If you have a previous DUI conviction, or
  • If you’re involved in an accident in which someone was seriously injured or killed

As a practical matter, people are usually charged with “driving under the influence,” rather than “driving with a BAC of .08 or higher,” because it is significantly easier for the prosecutors to prove.

DUI Criminal Penalties

A DUI conviction has criminal penalties set out in §1210.  In addition to the maximum penalties, DUI second and subsequent have mandatory minimum prison sentences that must be served in prison or in a residential alcohol treatment facility.

  • DUI first offense: up to $750 fine, up to 2 years imprisonment.
  • DUI second offense: up to $1500 fine, up to 2 years imprisonment.  Must perform 200 hours of community service or serve 60 consecutive hours of imprisonment.
  • DUI third offense: up to $2500 fine, up to 5 years imprisonment.  Must serve 96 consecutive hours of imprisonment.
  • DUI fourth or subsequent offense: up to $5000 fine, up to 10 years imprisonment.  Must serve 192 consecutive hours of imprisonment.

There are more severe penalties imposed if anyone is seriously injured or killed.

  • Injury: up to $5000 fine and 15 years imprisonment for each person seriously injured.
  • Death: up to $10,000 fine and 1 to 15 years for each person killed.
  • Injury or death, third or subsequent DUI offense: minimum 5 years imprisonment that may not be suspended or deferred.

DUI License Suspensions

In addition to the criminal penalties, a DUI conviction will result in your license being suspended.  These are set out in §1205, 1206, and 1208.

  • DUI first offense: 90 day suspension.
  • DUI second offense: 18 month suspension.
  • DUI third and subsequent offense: lifetime suspension.

If you have no prior DUIs, and you refuse to take a breath or blood test, your license is suspended for 6 months.

Vermont has a two track system for DUI license suspensions.  There is the criminal DUI charge, and there is a civil suspension charge.  The criminal charge can have criminal penalties, plus the suspension of your license, but the civil charge can only suspend your license.  However, the civil charge is much easier for the prosecutor to win, so it is possible to lose the civil suspension case, and thus lose your license, but to win the criminal case.  The civil and the criminal suspensions track separately; if you lose the civil case but win the criminal case, then for a subsequent DUI charge then it would be a second offense for calculating license suspensions, but a first offense for criminal penalties.

License Reinstatement

Unlike most license suspensions, there are a number of things you need to do to get your license back after a DUI suspension, set out in §1209a.

  • You need to attend and complete Crash, an alcohol and driving education program.  The Crash counselor may require you to attend additional alcohol therapy.
  • You need to pay all your fines and penalties.
  • You need to obtain SR-22 insurance.

If you have a lifetime suspension for a DUI 3 or more, it is still possible to have your license reinstated.  You will need to complete 3 years of total abstinence from any alcohol and drugs.  You will also need to use an ignition interlock device for at least a year after reinstatement.

You can only have your license rehabilitated once.   If you get another DUI after rehabilitating your license, you cannot get it back again.

Department of Health information on Crash.

Restricted Drivers Licenses and Ignition Interlock Device

You can get a restricted drivers license before the suspension period is up that allows you to drive a vehicle with an ignition interlock device.  To get a RDL, you need to complete all the requirements for reinstating your license; completing Crash, paying your fines, and getting the necessary insurance.

  • First offense: you can get a RDL after 30 days, but you cannot get a normal license for 6 months.
  • Second offense: you can get a RDL after 90 days.
  • Third offense (lifetime suspension): you can get a RDL after 1 year.

If the DUI offense involved a collision that resulted in serious injury or death, you cannot get a RDL.

DMV information on restricted drivers licenses.

List of ignition interlock device manufacturers. 


Nothing on this page is a substitute for legal advice.  Every situation is different.  You should contact us to discuss your case.

Evan Barquist 4 Merrill Lane, #104, Milton, VT 05468 | P: 802.829.9857