WHAT DO I DO IF STOPPED?
WHY WAS I STOPPED OFFICER?
If you drive a vehicle on Vermont roads you may get stopped in your lifetime. You may get stopped for many reasons, such as:
No or invalid inspection sticker
No registration plates or only one plate attached
Not completely stopping for a stop sign
Not using your directional signal as required
Not having your lights on
Children not secured in a child restraint device
Unsafe or erratic driving
And many more reasons.
The role of the police is not to harass you or your passengers nor will I bore you with statistics of traffic accidents and roadway deaths.
We will however enforce traffic laws and rules of the road, that is a major part of our job. We are attempting to have everyone on your roadways follow the traffic laws set forth by the State of Vermont. The Vermont Judicial Bureau is the one who sets the laws, the fine as well as the point assessment, not the police officer.
The police officer is also looking for further violations during a traffic stop. Many persons with arrest warrants, drivers under suspension, DWIs and drug violators are identified during traffic stops.
WHAT DO I DO?
First and foremost, you need to stop as directed and in a safe manner. In Vermont, if you are approached by a vehicle bearing BLUE or RED lights that are flashing or rotating, you need to pull to the right and stop. That is the law!
Second, stay in your vehicle! If you jump out of the car and rush back to the officer, you may be shocked at the orders that you will receive. We as police officers, have no idea who you are or what your intensions are, we must base a conclusion on limited information and the conclusion may be that you are trying to harm us. So please stay in your vehicle until instructed otherwise.
Third, have your driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance ready. You will always be asked for those documents. Failure to carry these items with you is illegal and you may be fined for not having these up-to-date documents with you.
Fourth, roll down your window. Please. Trying to talk to someone with their window up or opened a crack is very hard. This does not open a nice line of communication, does it?
The officer will ask you for the documents I mentioned before (license, registration and insurance). They will then tell you why you were stopped (offense). They then may ask you some questions; where your heading, where your from, have you been drinking and many more various questions based on the circumstance.
The officer will then go back to his/her patrol vehicle and conduct a records check to see if you and vehicle are valid to be on Vermont roads. He/she will fill out a traffic warning or ticket and return to you and explain the violation and the fine. They will also explain the options that you have in response to the ticket.
REMEMBER! The officer does not set the fine or the points, to argue with him at the side of the road is not productive and may result in additional charges. If you feel that you were treated unfair or did not commit the offense then by all means CONTEST/DENY the ticket and have a judge decide the outcome.
Almost all Vermont police cruisers are now installed with a in-car video system. I feel it is very embarrassing to stand in front of a judge or jury and see yourself yelling and swearing at the officer.
Either if you contest or admit to the offense you need to respond to the ticket in 20 days.
During the stop the officer may detect additional offenses such as, D.W.I., drug violation or any other criminal offense. These will be addressed as the vehicle stop progresses.
As I said above we do not make up the fines on the side of the road. A panel of judges access the fines and points in Vermont. I have list below a sample of some of the fines and points in Vermont. Points are only accessed to a moving violation.
THESE HAVE CHANGED!!!!!!!!!!See below for new fines. New fines in Green
The State of Vermont has raised the fines. Starting July 1, 2003 the surcharge is $21.00 instead of $20.50 and there is now a 15% addition to the fine.
Speeding in other than a 50 MPH zone 1-10 over $5 a mile and 2 points, 11-20 $6 a mile and 3 points, 21-30 $7 a mile and 5 points, 31 and above $8 a mile and 8 points, plus all have an additional $20.50 NOW $21.00 surcharge plus 15% added to the fine before the surcharge.
Speeding in a 50MPH zone is the same but always 2 points.
Fines are doubled in a work zone.
15 over Limit =$110.50 NOW $125.00, 20 over =$140.50 NOW $.159.00, 25 over =195.50 NOW $222.00. Gets expensive. 32 over =276.50 NOW $316.00
No valid license $120.50 and 2 points NOW $136.00
Invalid Inspection sticker $70.50 and No points NOW $79.00
Failure to use a Directional Signal $170.50 and 2 points NOW $194.00
Stop Sign violation $120.50 and 2 points NOW $136.00
If not wearing a seatbelt $10. will be added to the original ticket SAME
If a Child is not using a seatbelt or restraint system then a separate ticket of $25.00 will be issued. SAME
This is just a very short list of violations. An officer may also issue a standard ticket for other non vehicle violations such as, Alcohol use and or possession under the age of 21, using an others or fictitious license to obtain alcohol, or in possession of same, possession of tobacco under the age of 18 and even littering or illegal dumping.
A valuable piece of information that I have to offer is be familiar with the state that you traveling in and their laws. AAA puts out a handy booklet and also has a website detailing every states vehicle laws.
Unsafe driving no matter where you are will not be tolerated! DRIVE RESPONSIBLE!
For more information about Vermont Civil Violation Complaints contact the Vermont Judicial Bureau.