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The Unluckiest Drunk Driver Ever (Not Tom Salmon)

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Vermont Auditor Tom Salmon is getting all the headlines for his drunk-driving cruiser-cam video, just ordered released by a Superior Court judge in Montpelier.

But an even unluckier drunk driver emerges in the pages of a Vermont Superme Court decision released today.

According to the ruling, Jason Young left Barre in his pickup truck shortly after 10 p.m. on a midsummer's eve in 2009. He was headed home to Marshfield. Young was out with friends after work and "had a couple of drinks."

On the way home, driving along Plainfield Brook Road, he noticed a vehicle approaching from behind. Hoping to lose the car, Young turned right onto Cassie Street "assuming the vehicle would continue straight past."

To Young's dismay, the vehicle followed him. So he turned right again, at the next opportunity, this time onto Valley View Circle. Again, the car followed Young.

So Young looked for a driveway to turn around in. He found one and pulled in "assum[ing] the vehicle behind [him] would continue past," the court decision says.

It did not. Young thought that, "coincidentally," the person in the car must live there. He was right. The person did live there. And that person was an off-duty cop.

The cop approched Young's truck and asked if he could help him. When Young rolled down his window, the officer said he detected a strong odor of alcohol. The officer asked Young how much he had to drink that night, to which Young responded, "three or four," followed by a short pause, and then "maybe four or five."

The cop ordered Young out of his car and performed sobriety tests on his driveway. Young allegedly blew a blood-alcohol content of .178, well beyond the .08 legal limit, according to the court ruling.

Young sought to suppress the evidence of intoxication by arguing the officer had insufficient "reason to believe" he was impaired, and therefore the evidence gathered during the field sobriety test was inadmissable. The trial court rejected that, reasoning that "it is reasonable for a homeowner in these circumstances to stop an operator to inquire whether he is lost or in need of assistance."

In other words, the cop was acting as a homeowner first, not as a police officer.

Young appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court but the high court today upheld the lower court's ruling.

Illustration by Todd Rogers

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