One of the first legal backlashes of being arrested for DUI in Vermont is the dreaded press release police release the day after an arrest is made. This release normally discloses the name of the individual arrested for a Vermont DUI, where the arrest occurred and a small description of the details of the arrest. However, in many instances, the crucial evidence that supports the DUI charge, such as an individual’s performance on the field sobriety tests and their breath test results is not disclosed in the initial release. For several police departments, this policy is about to change.
The South Burlington Police Department recently announced that they would begin disclosing the results of breath tests for those arrested for DUI. According to a report by WPTZ.com, police departments had been withholding this information due to concerns that the accused would not get a fair trial if potential jurors were able to read about the defendant’s breath test results prior to their admissibility being determined by a Vermont district court.
In a change of course, departments are now saying that transparency in these arrests is more important then keeping the results confidential. This push was given substantial weight when governor Peter Shumlin stated that he was in favor of full disclosure.
The Vermont State Police and Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles will also be disclosing breath test results. Although transparency in government is important, the constitutional right of an individual accused of drunk driving in Vermont trumps the press and the public’s need to know. Numerous issues have arisen in recent years as to the breath test’s reliability. As a result, this practice may potentially have an adverse effect on those who were under the legal limit at the time of operation, certainly not helpful in ensuring that every person is given their day in court to present a defense.