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The Volz Law Blog

Serving Vermont in Family Law, Personal Injury, and LGBT Law.

What Should You Do When Pulled Over in Vermont?

Can an officer in Vermont pull me over without probable cause?

In the case of an investigative vehicular stop, the police must have a basis for pulling you over. Otherwise lawful checkpoints aside, they can’t just randomly stop you. We have probably all heard of someone being guilty of “driving while black.” Such profiling has been substantiated countless times. The expression could just as easily be, driving while young. These things still happen even though they are not supposed to. They are called pre-textual stops.

In order to effect a lawful stop the police need to have a legitimate reason to pull you over. Speeding. Light out. No directional used. Something stuck to or hanging from the windshield, etc. So one of the first things an attorney will investigate is whether there was a legitimate basis for being pulled over.

As discussed before, it is important to always have your license, registration, and insurance card handy in case you are ever stopped. This shows that you have your wits about you and gives the police less opportunity or reason to be hanging outside your door with nostrils flaring, trying to detect the odor of intoxicants (usually, alcohol or pot), asking you well-rehearsed questions. If you allow yourself to be engaged the probability that you might say something incriminating or inconsistent/untruthful sky rockets. And possible defenses that could have been asserted later begin to plummet.

What do I say if a police officer asks if I was drinking?

For example, let’s say you just left a friend’s house or a bar and had a couple of drinks right before you left the place. If you allowed yourself to be engaged in conversation the officer will no doubt smell alcohol and begin grilling you with questions. “How much did you have to drink tonight?” “How long ago?” “Where are you coming from?” “Where are you headed?” etc. At this juncture, otherwise honest individuals may be tempted to lie. They might say that they had nothing to drink. Or, they might say they only had a couple, which now gives the officer reason to process you further. They might be thinking, “Crap, if I admit that I drank or that I drank recently I look irresponsible. I’ll tell the officer I didn’t drink or the last one I had was a couple of hours ago.” What this person doesn’t know is that recently consumed alcohol, within 30 minutes, hasn’t typically hit the system yet and is taken out of the calculus in a relation back formula that is used to determine a person’s BAC (blood alcohol content). For example, if you were to drink a few shots of whiskey and then immediately go driving around it has been found that those shots won’t hit your system for about 30 minutes.

[DISCLAIMER: YOUR MILAGE MAY VARY! DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME! OR ANYWHERE, FOR THAT MATTER!!! It is just an example.]    

If pulled over during that 30 minute period, you would wreak of booze and no doubt be taken back to the station and processed.  By the time you got to the station and formalities followed, more time would pass and when you finally blew into the machine, you would certainly be over the limit.  However, if the alcohol you consumed during the 30 minutes prior to the stop was deducted from the analysis, then you most likely wouldn’t be over the limit.

Imagine though, if, when asked by the police whether you had anything to drink and you were foolish enough to be engaged and you said you had nothing to drink, or, that you didn’t have anything to drink for a couple of hours, the defense described above would be out the window. And this is just one example of one defense.

The relation back analysis cuts both ways. The State of Vermont is also able to determine what you eliminated during the time it takes to process you and add that to what you blow. For example, if you were pulled over at 9 PM and they had you blow into the Data Master at the station at 10 PM and you blew a .07, they can add .015 BAC (the average amount of alcohol that an average body eliminates per hour) to the .07 and get a figure of .085 BAC.  

If you are involved in DUI charges in Vermont, you need an experienced Vermont DUI attorney. If you would like to discuss your particular DUI case, contact Attorney Kevin Volz at 802.775.0700. We are here to help.

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