DUI: ‘You can’t afford it’ — or can you?


By Jon Street | Vermont Watchdog

DEFENDING DUI OFFENDERS: Lawmaker proposes loosening penalty for first-time DUI offenders

BURLINGTON, Vt. — You’ve probably seen the signs along Vermont’s highways and interstates reminding people not to drink and drive.

“You can’t afford it,” the signs say.

Perhaps it’s true that most people can’t afford to have their driver’s license suspended after a DUI.

But there’s a bill in the State Legislature that could change all that.

State Rep. Susan Wizowaty, D-Chittenden, is proposing that first-time DUI offenders keep their drivers licenses. Instead, Wizowaty’s slap-on-the-wrist plan would impose a fine of “not more than $750″ for first-time DUI offenders.

Perhaps Wizowaty doesn’t pay much attention to the news. In July 2013, Burlington’s former deputy chief of police was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. You might expect the officer to be fired or asked to resign. Nope. The court decided to teach him a lesson with a $500 fine. The officer “retired” in November 2013, pension and all.

One police officer got lucky? Maybe. But consider the case of a Colchester police officer who was arrested just last week.

As the Burlington Free Press reported March 27, the officer, “Jeremy Wyskiel … had an alcohol level of 0.217 percent — nearly three times the legal limit — when he finally submitted to a blood alcohol test about two hours after police confronted him early Monday,” citing court documents.

Wyskiel pleaded “not guilty” in Vermont Superior Court and was released on two conditions — that he “not possess or buy any firearms and that he undergo an alcohol risk assessment next week.” All the while, Wyskiel is on “paid administrative leave.” Talk about good use of your tax dollars.

Contact Jon Street at jstreet@watchdog.org and find him on Twitter @JonStreet.