FAQs

How long does it take for a traffic ticket hearing to be scheduled?

The Vermont Judicial Bureau has been given directives from the State Legislature to hold hearings on traffic tickets within 60 days from the date the ticket was issued.  However, this is not always possible.  As a general rule, tickets are usually heard within 90 days of the date of the ticket unless a continuance is granted, which can then prolong the case for up to another 90 days.

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How do I contest my traffic ticket?

On the back of the white copy of the ticket you received, there should be a place where you can check off your plea.  Be sure to check the DENIED box (do not check the no contest box).  Fill out your mailing address and sign and date in the fields provided. Remember you have only 20 days from the date the ticket was issued to enter your denial.

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Will the State offer me a plea deal at my arraignment?

It is not guaranteed that an offer will be extended by the State to resolve your DUI-first offense charge at arraignment.  However, in many cases, the State will extend such an offer that can range from a fine to a sentence of incarceration and/or probation.

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What sentence may I face if convicted of a Vermont DUI-First Offense?

The law allows a Defendant to be sentenced to up to 2 years in jail for a Vermont DUI-First Offense conviction.  However, in many cases, the sentence is far less severe then the maximum.  The type of sentence a Defendant can expect in their case is heavily dependent on the specific facts.  These facts include but are not limited to the breath test results, whether there was an accident as part of the arrest, the criminal history of the Defendant, what legal defenses may be available to attack the validity of the criminal charge and what preemptive positive actions the Defendant has taken during the pendency of the case.

 

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If I live out of State will my Vermont DUI be reported to my home state?

Vermont shares an interstate compact with most states agreeing to share information as to DUIs and other traffic offenses.  It should be assumed, although not guaranteed that if convicted of a DUI, or if your license is suspended in Vermont, that your home state will catch wind of the suspension and take its own administrative action.

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Do I have to personally attend my arraignment?

Not necessarily.  In some cases a judge will grant a Defendant’s motion to waive personal appearance if they can show that it will be a substantial inconvenience for the Defendant.  It is more likely that a judge will be inclined to grant such a request if the Defendant (or their attorney) and the State’s Attorney can reach an agreement on conditions of release prior to the arraignment date and file that agreement with the Court along with the motion.

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What happens at my first court hearing?

The initial hearing on a Vermont DUI is called an arraignment.  This hearing is the starting point for the criminal prosecution.  It is at this hearing that the Superior Court judge makes a finding on probable cause, where the State provides the evidence they have to support the charge and when the Defendant facing the charge enters a guilty or not guilty plea.

In most cases, judges will also impose conditions of release, which are essentially rules that the Defendant must follow while the case is pending.  If the Defendant fails to follow these rules, additional charges can be filed.

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What actions must I take when issued the Vermont Notice of Intent to Suspend Form after my DUI arrest?

You have 7 days from the date you are given the form to request a hearing on your Vermont license suspension.  You must mail the form in to the Vermont DMV within that time frame to avoid a default judgement being issued against you.  For DUI-First Offense charges, the timely request for a hearing will hold the license suspension in abeyance at least until the hearing is held, which could be many months from the time of arrest. For DUI-Second or subsequent offenses, the suspension will go into effect prior to the hearing occurring, but there are strict timelines as to the timelines of this hearing, which must be complied with by the Court in order to avoid a dismissal of the suspension.

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