Vermont Civil Suspension Hearing 23 V.S.A. Section 1205
Under 23 V.S.A. 1205(h)(1)-(5), the issues at a final civil suspension hearing are limited to the following:
(1) whether the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was operating, attempting to operate or in actual physical control of a vehicle in violation of section 1201 of this title;
(2) whether at the time of the request for the evidentiary test the officer informed the person of the person's rights and the consequences of taking and refusing the test . . .;
(3) whether the person refused to permit the test;
(4) whether the test was taken and the test results indicated that the person's alcohol concentration was 0.08 or more at the time of operation . . ., whether the testing methods used were valid and reliable and whether the test results were accurate and accurately evaluated . . .;
(5) whether the requirements of section 1202 of this title [consent to taking of tests to determine blood alcohol content] were complied with.
Section 1205(h)(1) permits defendants in civil suspension proceedings to challenge whether the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to suspect a DWI violation.
When a motor vehicle stop is based on an officer's suspicion that the driver was intoxicated, the issue of whether the officer had reasonable grounds to suspect a DWI violation is logically extended to the question of whether there was a reasonable basis for the stop.
It would make little sense, however, to allow defendants to challenge the legality of the underlying stop only in situations when the officer indicated that the stop was based on a suspicion that there had been a DWI violation.
In determining the legality of a stop, courts do not attempt to divine the arresting officer's actual subjective motivation for making the stop; rather, they consider from an objective standpoint whether, given all of the circumstances, the officer had a reasonable and articulable suspicion of wrongdoing. See State v. Sutphin, 159 Vt. 9, 11, 614 A.2d 792, 793 (1992).
It is conceivable that officers might stop individuals for minor vehicle violations based on a suspicion of DUI, perhaps because the individuals have a prior history of DUI in the community or because of other circumstances, such as the time of night or the location of the vehicle.