There are certain areas on Vermont highways that are easier to navigate then others. When it comes to Vermont Interstates I-91 and I-89, the degree of difficulty can be significantly diminished, especially during low traffic times. As a result, many motorists may feel that they can travel at speeds much faster then the posted speed limit. Although traveling a few miles over the posted speed limit may land a motorist a traffic ticket, there are times that the speed alleged is excessively over the posted speed limit, which can lead to a Vermont Excessive Speed criminal charge. One area on I-89 in particular has been deemed a “hotspot” for excessive speed charges, begging the question of what factors are leading to more criminal charges in this stretch of highway then any other in Vermont.
According to a report by Vermont Public Radio, one Vermont State Trooper has arrested several motorists traveling at speeds in excess of 100 mph in a 10 mile stretch on I-89 between the Royalton Sharon town lines. For those who have traveled this stretch of road before, it is easy to see why more motorists would feel comfortable traveling at high speeds then on other Vermont highways.
Stretches like this on I-89 can be a recipe for a Vermont Excessive Speed charge if one is not careful
It can be easy to forget the speed you are traveling. In certain areas, it can become even easier to allow this lack of attention to turn into a dangerous situation that may result in a criminal charge. Understanding where these situations may be more likely to occur may not only prevent them from happening, but in the unfortunate event that one is arrested for a Vermont excessive speed charge, it can be a useful tool in rationalizing some of the behavior in order to best argue for leniency when the case is brought to court.
It is no secret that a holiday weekend brings an increase in traffic driving through the Green Mountain State. This increase is especially felt on the two major highways which cross the State; I-89 and I-91. As a result, Vermont Law Enforcement has made it clear that they will be increasing their presence on the highways in order to detect and deter unsafe driving behavior, with an emphasis on investigating DUIs and speeding violations.
According to the Valley News, there has been an expected dramatic surge in the number of vehicles on the road, including on I-89, which sees traffic counts of about 41,000 near the Vermont/New Hampshire state line on an average day. This surge of traffic resulted in 100 motorists being issued tickets for speed violations and 8 for the use of hand held electronic devices during a joint task force of Vermont and New Hampshire Law Enforcement officers along the Connecticut river valley on Friday.
The interstate’s are customarily Vermont State Police turf. Do not be surprised to see numerous green cruisers in the median along the highways this weekend. Although safe driving is always the best defense to avoiding traffic tickets, in the event you find yourself with blue lights behind you, it is important to remember the following:
- Be polite;
- Be efficient in producing your license and insurance to the officer;
- Do not interrogate the officer; and
- Keep that PBA care in your pocket at all times and make no mention of it.
Most people are unaware of the law related to illegal expansion following a motor vehicle stop. The police routinely perform motor vehicle stops on motorists in Vermont, which can often result in a Vermont speeding ticket, some other Vermont traffic ticket, or a criminal citation related to DUI. Most often, it is the quality of the driving itself that alerts the police to a particular vehicle. But what happens if the police use a minor traffic violation, and the resulting motor vehicle stop, as a mechanism to investigate the driver or passengers pertaining to issues that are unrelated to a Vermont speeding ticket or Vermont traffic ticket?
The vast majority of motor vehicle stops in Vermont are related to speeding and minor traffic infractions. But once a motor vehicle stop has occurred, the police are only permitted to investigate and inquire about issues directly related to the reason for the stop. They are not allowed to detain you any longer than it takes for them to issue you the ticket.
Does this mean that, following a stop based upon a speeding infraction, an officer would be forced to ignore and walk away from the obvious open alcohol container, plainly visible illegal substances, or a driver who appeared visibly intoxicated? No! The driver or occupants would clearly be in more trouble. However, if the police make no such observations, they are not allowed to use this opportunity to further inquire about other potential criminal or wrongful conduct. This is an illegal expansion.
At Chadwick Law, we not only specialize in defending Vermont speeding tickets and Vermont traffic tickets, we specialize in challenging illegal expansions. As a motorist in Vermont, be aware of your rights. If you are pulled over related to a Vermont speeding ticket or Vermont traffic ticket, politely decline to engage in conversation of issues that are not related to the stop itself and decline any requested searches. The common result of challenging a case due to an officer’s illegal expansion of a stop is that the criminal charge is dismissed. Protect yourself with awareness.
Its bad enough for a motorist to be put in handcuffs after being charged with excessive speed, a criminal offense that carries up to 90 days in prison and a suspension of one’s license. However, what more and more motorists are seeing besides the citation to appear in a Vermont court, is that they are also facing a substantial civil infraction for the same offense, a penalty that could result in 8 or more points on one’s driving license and a fine nearing or exceeding $1,000.
There is a method of thinking behind law enforcements issuance of both the civil and criminal violations and it takes some significant digging to figure our exactly what they are looking for with regards to a resolution of the cases. However, in many cases, prosecutors take a one, or the other mentality, where they are satisfied with a motorist pleading to one of the charges in exchange for them dismissing the other. However, this determination if fact-specific and varies from case to case depending on a wide range of factors, such as one’s driving history, how they handled their interaction with police as well as other factors such as prior criminal convictions.
Thus, it is extremely important with excessive speed criminal charges and the accompanying civil charge, to contest them both so that a motorist can preserve their rights to negotiate a favorable deal at a later time once all the facts come to light.
Excessive Speed criminal charges in Vermont are no joke. They come with serious financial penalties and the risk of having a criminal conviction on a motorists’ record for the rest of their life. Thus, it is important to set forth a plan on how to deal with these charges early in the prosecution of the charge. It may just set the motorist on a path far less detrimental then if they just succumb to law enforcement’s suggested punishment.
There are clear cut rules enumerated in Title 23 of the Vermont Statutes that state that operators of trucks requiring a Vermont Commercial Driver’s License may not operate them with a Blood Alcohol Contents of .04 or more. However, there is also a blanket “influence” provision in the Statute, stating that if the driver of a truck in Vermont is “under the influence” they can still be charged with DUI even if their BAC is below .04.
“Under the influence” is a term used to define impairment “to the slightest degree”. Which means that if the State can show any form of impairment they have met their evidentiary threshold to secure a conviction on a DUI.
This impairment threshold does not just apply to just CDL DUIs but also those for motorist driving private vehicles. And, although the holder of a CDL may be driving their own vehicle, not their truck, they can still face serious penalties that will reach not only their regular driver’s license, but their CDL as well.
Beyond a DUI itself, other “major traffic infractions” such a Careless and Negligent Operation Conviction or an Excessive Speed Conviction can, when added together result in suspension of a Vermont CDL, even, like in the DUI, these convictions do not have anything to do with the operator driving their commercial vehicle.
As a result, it is important when facing such charges, to try and mitigate or eliminate the overall exposure that these Vermont traffic infractions may bring. If ignored, these tickets can lead to serious long term consequences well beyond what many may have contemplated when they took a plea.
For Vermont police officers, speeding on a local road is one thing, but speeding at over two times the legal limit brings about a totally other set of circumstances. In many cases, those motorists who are found to have been driving 30mph or more over the posted speed limit can not only face a hefty fine and up to 9 points issued on their license, but also a criminal citation to appear in court to answer to the charge of excessive speed.
In these such cases, it is important to contest both the ticket and the criminal charge, as there may be a way to resolve both for something far less than what the law prescribes.
The most common places for these double penalties to occur are in the following areas:
1) Town center with a speed limit of 30mph or less;
2) School zones;
3) Hospital zones;
4) Dangerous roads that have a series of sharp curves.
A police officer holds some discretion in determining whether or not to arrest a motorist while also issuing them a ticket. If the speed is close to the 30mph over threshold, they may cut the motors a break if the motorist is polite and their record shows few previous traffic violations. However, do not be shocked if the officer asks you to step of your vehicle and handcuff you for this type of Vermont traffic violation.