Can someone impede a police officer’s investigation into a DUI by attempting to place themselves in the middle of an active DUI investigation? This question is currently being analyzed by the Vermont State Police as they look into the actions of the chairwoman of a local Vermont town, who is alleged to have made several calls to the Sheriff’s Department after she learned that her friend had been arrested for DUI.
According the the Brattleboro Reformer, the incident in question arose late one evening when a Sheriff’s Deputy attempted to stop a motorist in the town of Vernon, Vermont. The Sheriff alleged that the vehicle did not stop right away and instead pulled into a residence. The motorist is alleged to have gotten out of her vehicle and began to walk towards the house. The deputy then pulled his firearm and ordered the woman to stop.
After being taken into custody the station commander stated in his report that he received numerous phone calls from the chairwoman, using foul language to describe the deputy’s actions.
It is at this point, where the chairwoman may have gone too far, using her position of authority in an attempt to try and influence an investigation.
Obstruction of Justice is defined in the Vermont Statutes as:
“Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, intimidates or impedes any witness, grand or petit juror, or officer in or of any court or agency, in a contested case, of the state of Vermont, or causes bodily injury to such person or intentionally damages the property of such person on account of such person’s attendance at, deliberation at, or performance of his or her official duties in connection with a matter already heard, presently being heard or to be heard before any court or agency, in a contested case, of the state of Vermont, or corruptly or by threats or force or by any threatening letter or communication, obstructs or impedes, or endeavors to obstruct or impede the due administration of justice” 13 VSA 3015.
The key to this investigation will be whether the contact made by the chairwoman was meant to “intimidate”the officer in the administration of his duties. Although it is not clear as to when a final report will be issued, the Vermont DUI, which stemmed this whole incident seems completely lost in what actions followed it, raising many questions as to the role town government officials should play in incidents that fall outside their scope of authority.