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Vermont New Resident Guide

Welcome to Vermont! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in Vermont. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • A licensee must notify the DMV within 30 days of any change of mailing address, legal name, or legal residence.
  • Residents must register motor vehicles owned or leased for a period of more than 30 days and operated by them. A "resident" means any person living in the state who intends to make the state his or her principal place of domicile either permanently or for an indefinite number of years. Persons who live in the state for a particular purpose involving a defined period of time, including students, migrant workers employed in seasonal occupations, and persons employed under a contract with a fixed term, are not residents for the purposes of this title only. Any foreign partnership, firm, association, or corporation having a place of business in this state shall be deemed to be a resident as to all vehicles owned or leased and which are garaged or maintained in this state.
  • You must obtain a Vermont Driver License upon establishing residency in this state. This must be done no longer than 60 days after moving to Vermont or, if your out-of-state license expires before the end of this 60-day period, you must obtain a Vermont Driver License before it expires (whichever occurs first).
  • You must obtain a Vermont vehicle registration upon establishing residency in this state. This must be done no longer than 60 days after moving to Vermont or if your out-of-state vehicle registration expires before the end of this 60-day period you must obtain a Vermont vehicle registration before it expires (whichever occurs first).


Graduated Licensing Program



Learner's Permit

Requirements

  • Must be 15 years old;
  • Must pass written test and vision screening.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Must be accompanied by one of the following people, seated beside the driver:
    • A licensed and unimpaired parent or guardian;
    • A licensed or certified and unimpaired driver education instructor;
    • A licensed and unimpaired individual who is at least 25 years of age.

Junior License

Requirements

  • Must be 16 years old;
  • Must have held permit a least 1 year.
  • Must have passed driver education and training course.
  • Must have accumulated 40 hours of driving practice, 10 of which must be at night.
  • Must pass road test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Cannot operate vehicle in the course of employment for one year or until age 18.
  • May not carry passengers for hire.
  • During first 3 months, license holder may only drive alone, unless a licensed and unimpaired parent or guardian, or a licensed or certified unimpaired driver education instructor or a licensed and unimpaired individual 25 years of age or older is riding in the front seat. If one of those individuals is in the vehicle, there is no restriction on the number of passengers.
  • During second 3 months, license holder may begin transporting family members.
  • After 6 months, there is no restriction on number of passengers. However, the driver is not allowed to transport more passengers than there are safety belts.
  • A person under 18 years of age shall not use any portable electronic device while operating a moving motor vehicle on a highway.

Full License

Requirements

  • At 18, teens are eligible for a full license if they have been suspension-free for at least 6 months.


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations



Points are put on your driving record each time you are found guilty of breaking a motor vehicle law.

For example, you are given points for the following offenses:

Speeding2 - 8 points depending on your speed over the speed limit
Texting while driving2 - 5 points
Driving without a license2 points
Failure to stop for a stop sign or red light2 points
Failure to obey a police officer4 points
Failure to yield the right of way to an ambulance, fire truck, police officer5 points
Failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk4 points
Failure to stop for a school bus that has stopped with the red warning lights flashing5 points

When a driver receives a total of 10 points, a letter will be sent notifying the driver that his/her privilege to drive is to be suspended. A hearing may be requested to verify the convictions and the number of points accrued. The number of points received within 2 years will determine how long your driving privilege will be suspended. The more points received - the longer the period of suspension. Points are not assessed for parking or defective equipment violations.



Insurance Requirements



  • Vermont has a law called "Maintenance of Financial Responsibility." This means that the vehicle you drive MUST be covered by liability insurance. Liability and property damage are the most important type of automobile insurance you should have. It protects you against financial loss when bodily injury or property damage occurs.
  • The amount of coverage MUST be at least:
    • $25,000 for death or injury of one person;
    • $50,000 for death or injury of 2 or more persons;
    • $10,000 for property damage.
  • You must carry a card from your insurance company in the vehicle that shows there is insurance coverage on the vehicle. If you are stopped by a police officer you will have to show the card. If you are going to take a driving test you will also have to show the card. If a police officer stops you and asks to see your insurance card and you do not have insurance, the officer will give you a ticket. You will be fined and assessed two points on your driving record.
  • If you have insurance on your vehicle and a police officer stops you, and you cannot show the card to the officer, you have 15 days to do so. The card you show the officer must say that you had insurance at the time the officer stopped you.
  • If you are driving without insurance and any of the following happen, your license will be taken away by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles until you get insurance. You will have to prove to the Commissioner that you have insurance for a full 3 years.
    • You are in a crash, even if it isn't your fault;
    • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
    • Driving or taking another person's vehicle without the owner's consent;
    • Driving when your license is suspended, revoked, or refused;
    • Driving a vehicle in such a way as to cause the death of another person;
    • Leaving the scene of a crash.


Headlight Laws



When driving a motor vehicle at night, you should promptly dim your headlights when meeting or following another vehicle.

You must use your headlights:

  • A half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise.
  • When visibility is poor, such as in fog, heavy rain, or heavy snow.
  • If you cannot clearly see persons or vehicles 500 feet ahead.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.



Implied Consent Laws



  • First Refusal - suspension 6 months.
  • Second Refusal - suspension 18 months.
  • Third or Subsequent Refusal - suspension for life (3 years mandatory).
  • Other:
  1. No person shall have his license reinstated until he has met all conditions of reinstatement, which includes successful completion of alcohol education, treatment and/or therapy programs.
  2. Prior to reinstatement, a $50 surcharge shall be assessed to a person whose license is suspended for a refusal.
  3. Suspensions shall run concurrently.


DUI Penalties



First Conviction (misdemeanor)

  • Up to 2 years imprisonment.
  • Up to $750 fine.
  • Community service may be ordered.
  • 90 day license suspension.
  • May be permitted to operate vehicle with ignition interlock for term of license suspension.
  • Must complete alcohol and driver education program prior to license reinstatement.

Second Conviction (misdemeanor)

  • Up to 2 years imprisonment.
  • Up to $1,500 fine.
  • Court may order at least 200 hours community service in lieu of imprisonment.
  • 18 month suspension.
  • Must complete alcohol and driving rehabilitation program and therapy prior to license reinstatement.
  • 90 days ignition interlock.

Third Conviction (felony)

  • Up to 5 years imprisonment.
  • Up to $2,500 fine.
  • License revocation for life, may be reinstated after 3 years of abstinence or after 1 year of using an ignition interlock.
  • 1 year ignition interlock.
  • Must complete or substantial progress in therapy program prior to license reinstatement.

Fourth or Subsequent Conviction (felony)

  • Up to 10 years imprisonment.
  • Up to $5,000 fine.
  • License revocation for life, may be reinstated after 3 years of abstinence or after 1 year of using an ignition interlock.
  • 1 year ignition interlock.
  • Must complete or have substantial progress in therapy program prior to license reinstatement.


Open Container Law



The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.



Red Light Violation Fines



Vermont does not have a state law governing red light fines or the use of traffic cameras for red light enforcement.



Construction Zone Penalties



Speeding violations are subject to two times the original fine, whether or not workers are present.



Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



  • Vermont has no state law regarding right of way for a funeral procession.
  • Funeral processions are not required to allow sufficient space between vehicles so as to enable any other vehicle to enter and occupy such space without danger.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless the school bus is on a different roadway of a highway with separate roadways, or on a controlled access highway where the school bus is stopped in a loading zone which is a part of or adjacent to the highway at a point where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a fine of up to $1,000 and 5 points on your driver license.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



You are required to pass at a safe distance.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • Any applicant for a permit or an operator's license valid for operating a motorcycle, except a renewal applicant or an applicant who surrenders a valid motorcycle license issued by another state, shall successfully complete the rider training course or the department's motorcycle examination.

Protective Gear

  • No person may operate or ride upon a motorcycle upon a highway unless he or she wears upon his head protective headgear reflectorized in part and of a type that conforms to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The headgear shall be equipped with either a neck or chin strap. The operator must also wear eye protection, if the vehicle is not equipped with a windshield.

Headlights

  • Daytime headlight use not required.

Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Motorcycles traveling side-by-side in a single lane is prohibited.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle;
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn;
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

Double Yellow Line:

  • In Vermont, it is legal to cross a double yellow line to overtake and pass a vehicle traveling in the same direction as you are, if the left side is clearly visible and free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance, and you are not in a posted no-passing zone.
  • However, the Vermont DMV notes that solid lines are marked on the road to indicate places where visibility is be limited and passing is unsafe. The DMV recommends that you not pass if there is a solid line on your side of the road.


Speed Limits



  • 50 mph on any highways.


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants 18 years and older must wear a safety belt.
  • Police may not stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.

Child Seats

  • Children younger than 1 year or less than 20 pounds must be in a rear facing infant seat, and must be in the rear seat unless the front passenger airbag is deactivated.
  • Children 1 - 7 years and more than 20 pounds must be in a child seat.
  • Children 8 - 17 years and more than 20 pounds must be restrained, and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Ambulance;
    • Fire apparatus;
    • A vehicle operated by a volunteer firefighter;
    • A motor vehicle used in rescue operations;
    • Towing and repair vehicle.
  • You must do the following:
    • Proceed with caution;
    • If traveling on a four-lane highway, and safety conditions permit, make a lane change.

Following

  • Do not follow any fire apparatus traveling to an emergency closer than 500 feet, or in a manner to interfere with the suppression of a fire or the handling of the emergency, or so as to endanger the life of any occupant of the fire apparatus, or thereafter park his or her vehicle so as to interfere with the suppression of a fire or the handling of the emergency.

Collision Procedures

  • Immediately stop.
  • Render any assistance reasonably necessary.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address;
    • Driver license number;
    • Name of vehicle owner;
    • You must also provide the name and address of liability insurance company, and policy number, to any other person involved in the accident, within 5 days at their last known address.
  • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $3,000 or more, you must report the accident in writing within 72 hours after the accident, unless the accident was investigated by a law enforcement officer.


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