Beware! Increased police patrols on I-89/I-91 throughout Vermont this weekend

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:

  1. Be polite;
  2. Be efficient in producing your license and insurance to the officer;
  3. Do not interrogate the officer; and
  4. Keep that PBA care in your pocket at all times and make no mention of it.

Safe travels.







Conduct that won’t help you in a Vermont traffic stop

As a lawyer practicing extensively in traffic court, I have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of law enforcement officers regarding the circumstances of their stop of an individual for a traffic violation.  Most of the time these interactions are pleasant and professional.  However, from time to time, officers will relay to me important information as to the conduct of the motorist they issued a traffic ticket to, which goes directly toward their disposition in settling the case fairly.  Below are a few of the most important things not to do as relayed directly from the officer.

  1. They begged me to not write them a ticket:  Being pulled over by an officer can be a stressful situation.  The officer, who has written hundreds if not thousands of these tickets, knows that this interaction may be less then cordial.  However, when they are forced to defend themselves because a motorist is pleading with them not to write them a ticket, it puts them in a very difficult situation.  Thus, in response to the begging, a law enforcement officer may just put on their professional face and go through the motions of writing the ticket to avoid excessive contact with the motorist.  Tip: Take your medicine on the roadside, be polite, accept the ticket and then see what can be done to reduce or dismiss the ticket at a later time.
  2. Asking to see the radar:  An officer is not obligated to show a motorist their radar gun at the roadside during a Vermont speeding ticket stop.  This would prolong the stop and put the officer and motorist at further risk.  Especially on the highway, but also on winding Vermont roads, officers do not want to be exposed to oncoming traffic for any longer then they have to.  Requesting to look at the radar may only put the officer on the defensive, which may hurt your chances of catching a break later on.  Tip: If you feel the radar was inaccurate, save the argument for the courtroom, not the roadside.
  3. Aggressively denying that you were speeding:  If an officer is pulling you over, its because they believe that they have reason to do so.  If they are pulling you over for speeding, it is nearly a certainty that the officer has a reasonable belief that you were in fact speeding.  99% of Vermont law enforcement officers are good people, performing a tough job to the best of their ability.  Thus, if a motorist sits on the roadside and vehemently denies that they were speeding, this will not help their chances, as an officer may take it as a statement against their professionalism without just cause.  Instead, to protect your rights, it is better to not answer at all or to simply state that you were not sure how fast you were traveling.  Tip:  By the time the officer goes back to his cruiser after gathering your identification documents, it is likely that they have already made up their mind as to whether they will be writing you a ticket.  Do not expect that you will get a break by making your case on the roadside.

The issuance of a Vermont traffic ticket is only the start of the legal process if a motorist chooses to contest the charge.  Thus, it is important to not paint yourself in a corner by performing acts that are contrary to resolving your case.  The above three examples are just a few of the acts motorists have committed that have effected their chance are receiving a favorable disposition to their case.

Do license points transfer from Vermont to other states?

One of the most frequently asked questions as a result of a Vermont traffic ticket are whether the points issued as a result of of the violation transfer to the operator’s home state.  In short, there is no exact answer to this question.  Each State runs their own point system when it comes to civil traffic infractions.  As a result, each state has their own internal policies with regards to whether or not points are shared from one state to another.

It is important to note however, that regardless of whether points transfer, the most important question to those living outside the State of Vermont is whether the violation itself transfers.  The violation (defined by a code) is what carries with it the potential for increased insurance rates, which as posted previously can cause motorists thousands of dollars in hiked premiums over the coming years.

What insurance companies are looking for when they check a motorist’s driving record is whether the violations themselves carry with them an indication that they fall under a category of “moving infractions”.  This means that the violation charged was the direct result of the manner in which an operator drove their motor vehicle.  Speeding violations are the first that come to mind.  However, there are other violations such as running a red-light, failure to yield and driving too fast for conditions which carry the same connotation as speed does in the eyes of insurance companies.

As a result, the overall motivation for any operator looking to contest their Vermont traffic ticket is to avoid as much of the “moving violation” indication on their driving record as possible.  This will minimize the damage of a driving record check and will ensure that an out-of-state motorist will not be hit as severely or at all, when their insurance company checks up on the driving status of an individual driver.



The ultimate Vermont traffic ticket double whammy


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.




What type of insurance hit can I expect from a Vermont moving violation

The fine and the points associated with a traffic ticket only tell a small part of the total monetary story.  The financial consequences of a Vermont moving violation can encompass much more then the fine itself.  One of the biggest concerns for motorists is what type of rate increase they should expect from their auto insurance if their carrier catches wind that the motorist has been convicted of a Vermont DUI or moving violation.

According to a report written by a  single speeding ticket alone can carry with it between a 19-23% hike in insurance rates.   While a DUI carries with a 93% hike, while reckless driving such as texting while driving can bring with it rate increases as much as 82%.

What is even worse for those with less the pristine driving records is that if you add up a few of these violations, many insurance companies will refuse to even offer you insurance.

Based on the real and substantial consequences of even the most benign of traffic violations, it is important for motorists to calculate what the actual cost of that Vermont DUI, speeding ticket or reckless driving conviction could bring before determining whether or not it is worth the effort and expense of fighting it in the hopes of mitigating or eliminating the collateral consequences.



Is there such a thing as Vermont traffic ticket probation?

In certain cases, with specific factors an argument may be made that a driver facing a moving violation should be placed on Vermont traffic ticket probation to allow them to prove to the court and the officer that the error they made was not indicative of their overall driving character.  Here is how it works:

1)  The driver must have no other violations in the State of Vermont;

2)  The violation must be relatively minor in nature (i.e. a 2 point speeding violation, failure to use turn signal etc.);

3)  The driving conduct cannot include any kind of accident;

4)  The driver must have been polite and able to acknowledge their conduct, either through their lawyer admitting guilt or through the driver’s own admission.

If the driver meets the following criteria a police officer can agree to dismiss the ticket “with prejudice”.  The officer will conduct a motor vehicle check of the driver in 2 years and if the check comes back clean, with no further violations, the ticket will remain dismissed.  However, if the driver picks up another moving violation in the State of Vermont, the officer can reissue the ticket and the driver must then appear in court to answer to the charge.

Although Vermont traffic ticket probation is a rare occurrence, it may give certain drivers the relief they need to avoid the many financial ramifications that come with a Vermont traffic ticket, beyond what the fine imposes.

Beware the Vermont criminal/traffic ticket combination

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.

Mitigate your risk after a Vermont traffic stop

In traveling to Vermont traffic courts across the State of Vermont, I have gotten to meet a lot of very good hearted, professional police officers.  I have also gotten to meet a few, how shall we say it…sour ones.  In most of these meetings I, as a Vermont traffic ticket attorney, have gotten to sit down with the officer and discuss whether we can come to a negotiated settlement prior to litigating the traffic ticket before a Vermont assistant judge.  I have found that a police officer is much more inclined to offer a favorable deal if a motorist dinot perform one of the following maneuvers when the officer made first contact with them.

1)  Show the officer a business card of law enforcement you know:  This “networking” to get out of a ticket has never worked as far as I know.  In fact, the officers that I talk to have told me that it is an insult to their professionalism when someone thinks that just because their cousin is a State Trooper in another state, that this gives them a free pass to speed or break other traffic laws in Vermont.

2) Argue the merits of the stop on the roadside:  If an officer has pulled you over, they have done so because they believe they have the evidence necessary to charge you with a traffic violation.  Putting your case on trial to the officer right after he has pulled you over will not win you points with the officer and could lead to him giving you no break on the fine and points, when they write up the ticket.

3)  Say you have an emergency when you really don’t:  Officers are understanding of emergencies.  They will even at times escort you to the hospital.  However, if you say that you need to get somewhere fast because its an emergency and the cop calls you out on it by offering an escort to the alleged place of emergency and finds out you were lying, this could be a big problem when you receive your traffic infraction.

Vermont police officers will customarily write notes on their copy of the ticket they issued you if a motorist gives them reason to remember you at a traffic ticket hearing.  These notes will jog the officer’s memory as to the encounter they had which will greatly influence their decision on whether or not they are willing to cut you a deal.  Don’t give the officer reason to remember you, the less they remember about the stop, the better chance you have at prevailing at or before trial.

Vermont traffic ticket defenses that don’t work

Everyone has heard from arm chair lawyers of potential defenses to traffic tickets beyond the actual facts of the traffic stop.  However, for those who have litigated in Vermont traffic courts, the “defenses” suggested by those outside the litigation realm will often hold little or no weight in front of a traffic court judge.  Before going in to raise these defenses, please take a moment to see if they fall into one of the below categories:

Speeding ticket “defenses”

“I was traveling with the flow of traffic”

No matter if your a single vehicle driving on a lonely Vermont country road, or one of several vehicles in a pack traveling down Interstate 91, speeding is speeding, no matter how many or how few motorists are doing it together.  Making an argument in front of a judge that you were singled out of a group of speeders does not mitigate or excuse the conduct and, in many cases, will hurt your credibility in front of the judge, not a good way to start your traffic ticket trial.

The police officer was hiding on a private road”

Once again, pointing the finger at something other than the violation will not assist you in your hearing.  Although officer’s may technically be parked on a private road, local right-of-ways and town ordinances often give officers the right to do so.  As for the hiding aspect, it is merely part of their training, they are out there to catch speeders, not to give them fair warning of their presence.

“The officer spelled my name wrong on the ticket”

Unless the officer misidentified you completely (John Smith instead of George Thompson), a minor misspelling in your name will not get you off the hook for a Vermont traffic violation.

The officer didn’t issue me my Miranda rights when he pulled me over”

They don’t need to.  Unless an officer takes you into custody (handcuffs you and puts you in their cruiser), the questions they ask on the roadside are not a custodial interrogation that trigger Miranda protections.  However, keep in mind, that you hold a right not to answer questions that may incriminate you, such as “do you know why I pulled you over”.  However, if you answer these questions, those answers can be admitted at trial.

Keep in mind, that there are numerous defenses to a traffic ticket that do in fact work at trial.  Picking the right defense can make all the difference between prevailing and losing, but choosing random defenses not supported by Vermont law, will muddle the issues and will hurt your chances of reaching a positive outcome.

Do Vermont traffic ticket points transfer to out of state licenses

Vermont is one of the greatest tourist destinations in the country.  As a result, thousands of out-of-state motorists come to Vermont each year to take in the sites that Vermont is so well known for. On a less enjoyable side, Vermont police officers also know when high volume tourist seasons are and will often deploy increased patrols on Vermont roads to see if they can catch motorists violating Vermont traffic laws.

So, what effect does a ticket and the issuance of points have on an out-of-state driver’s ability to operate their motor vehicle?

By looking at the clear language of the statute, an issuance of points in Vermont may transfer to other states, when the motorist reaches the 10 point or higher threshold to trigger a license suspension.

When a sufficient number of points has been acquired, the commissioner shall suspend the license of an operator or the privilege of an unlicensed person, or nonresident to operate a motor vehicle, upon not less than 10 days’ notice, and upon hearing, if requested for verification of the conviction records. The suspension shall be for 10 days for an accumulation of 10 points, 30 days for 15 points, 90 days for 20 points and for a period increasing by 30 days for each additional 5points; except the suspension period for a conviction for first offense of sections 1091, 1094, 1128, and 1133 of this title shall be 30 days; for a second conviction 90 days and for a third or subsequent six months, or the suspension period under the point values, whichever is greater. If a fatality occurs, the suspension shall be for a period of one year in addition to the suspension under the point values. For purposes of this section, a month shall be considered as 30 days and one year shall equal 365 days.  

See 23 VSA 2506.

Although each state varies in how their DMV communicates with Vermont’s DMV, the issuance of points can pose significant problems to an out-of-state driver’s right to operate a motor vehicle.  Given that many tickets can result in 5 points or more, the accumulation of 2 tickets over the course of 2 years can pose a significant problem for those who have less than clean driving records.  This fact makes it even more important for motorists to fight a traffic ticket in an effort to see if the points can be eliminated or reduced after the conclusion of a Vermont traffic ticket hearing.

Don’t let that Vermont traffic ticket put you at risk of loosing your license.  Contact Vermont Traffic Ticket Attorney, Evan Chadwick for a free initial case analysis.