Weekend DUI spike leaves Vermont State Police concerned: ‘We’re frankly at a loss’

Local News

Vermont State Police are wondering what more they can do to stop people from driving under the influence after a string of DUI arrests over the weekend, several of which involved crashes.

“We’re frankly at a loss,” said Sgt. Jay Riggen, who launched a State Police Twitter account dedicated to traffic safety.

There have been 51 deaths on Vermont roadways so far this year, more than double the fatalities at this point in 2019. Nearly a third of those deaths were caused by impaired driving.

Between Friday evening and Sunday, police reported eight DUI incidents. Four resulted in a crash, including an incident that involved a police pursuit through Lowell in which the driver reached speeds of more than 100 mph.

“That type of speed is unsurvivable, and that’s the type of stuff that we’re greatly alarmed by,” Riggen said. “At that type of speed, the carnage is random. If somebody is hit head-on, or a child is hit, or a bicyclist is hit, these people are dying.”

Vermont State Police released photos showing the aftermath of a crash on Route 5 in Rockingham, where one person was sent to the hospital after riding their motorcycle impaired.

“The thing we’re struggling with currently, historically and into the future is that people understand that DUI is bad, that impaired driving is dangerous, yet they think it won’t happen to them, or they won’t be somehow injured or killed at the hands of an impaired driver and that just simply isn’t the case,” Sgt. Riggen said.

After this past weekend’s DUI surge, there’s concern that the community is in danger when that message of safety falls on deaf ears.

“I welcome any feedback or input the public has as far as how we can be better with getting people’s attention on this,” Riggen said. “Every day, every night there are troopers rolling out there, trying to stop a tragedy before it happens. As far as if there’s a way we can change our public messaging, if there’s a way we can change our community engagement, I want to do that, we want to do that.”

Riggen said anyone with suggestions should contact him at Jay.Riggen@vermont.gov.

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