Our Sheriff’s Office is among the most well-equipped and progressive in the State of Vermont when it comes to speed enforcement and the enforcement of motor vehicle laws in general. Most of our cruisers are equipped with moving Doppler radar units and we have laser units (LIDAR) as well. Doppler police radar is a reliable and effective means of ascertaining vehicle velocity, but sometimes our Deputies chose to use laser, which is more well-suited for heavy traffic conditions. Traffic laser measures a vehicle’s velocity using a beam of light, which measures speed and tells the Deputy how far away the vehicle is when it is targeted, down to 1/10th of a foot. Laser is very fast and so-called “Laser Detectors” are rarely effective, except to let the violator know that he or she has been caught speeding.
We also make extensive use of unmarked vehicles and “pacing” a violator from behind to enforce the speed laws in Chittenden County. Violators who are traveling more than 30 miles per hour above the posted speed limit are generally arrested and given a criminal court citation under the state law governing Excessive Speed. In addition, they may face a speeding ticket in addition to the criminal charge, as Vermont Civil Violation Complaints, also known as traffic tickets, are handled by the Vermont Judicial Bureau. The criminal charge for Excessive Speed is handled in Vermont District Court and conviction for this offense means a criminal misdemeanor conviction.
Our Deputies are required to attend contested Judicial Bureau hearings when they issue speeding tickets or other motor vehicle tickets. Many motorists who contest their tickets, hoping that the Deputy will not show up, are disappointed. If you receive a traffic ticket from a Chittenden County Sheriff’s Deputy and have questions about the ticket that were not answered at the time you were stopped, we encourage you to contact our office or the Deputy who issued you the ticket. We have found over the years that many people who contest tickets at Traffic Court often do so because they have a question for the Hearing Officer that could have readily been answered by the Deputy. There are many myths and urban legends floating around out there about motor vehicle laws; how radar works; how to “beat” tickets and the like. Everyone is entitled to their day in court, and we encourage that if there is a legitimate disagreement about the offense. But if you simply have a question about your ticket, please contact us and ask for the Deputy who ticketed you, or a Supervisor. If we can save both you and us a trip to Traffic Court, simply because a question did not get answered to your satisfaction, we are happy to speak with you.
Chittenden County Sheriff’s Deputies have full arrest powers statewide and we make several dozen DUI arrests per year in Chittenden County. We receive special grant funding for targeted DUI enforcement through the Vermont Governor’s Highway Safety Program and we have a high rate of success in detecting and apprehending impaired drivers. We patrol the highways during these patrols in both marked and unmarked cruisers and in the winter, we patrol the Statewide Snowmobile Trail System (SSTS) using funding from the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST). Deputies on snowmobiles are equipped with Alco-Sensors and we frequently set up sobriety check points along the snowmobile trail system, during both daylight and evening hours.
Our Office has won awards for our enforcement efforts, including placing 1st in the 2006 National Chief’s Challenge among Sheriff’s Offices of our size category in all 50 states. In 2008, we placed 1st among Sheriff’s Offices in Vermont in the Chief’s Challenge. Our Deputies have also received recognition for their excellent work in seat belt enforcement and occupant protection education and enforcement, particularly with children. The Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office has a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for children not wearing seatbelts and all drivers are ticketed for this infraction without warning.
Many DUI arrests are the result of stops for unrelated traffic violations. We encourage everyone to please drink responsibly and use alcohol education and designated drivers to avoid situations where you are driving while impaired by alcohol. In addition to the fines imposed, driver’s lose their privilege to drive in Vermont and other states for a minimum of 90 days for the first offense. Insurance rates often rise dramatically after a conviction for DUI. With court costs and mandatory alcohol counseling, the financial cost of a single DUI arrest can easily top $3,000 or more.
Like the blue sign says….. “YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT”
If you have any motor vehicle enforcement question, you may call and speak with any Chittenden County Sheriff’s Deputy,