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home : news : regional May 22, 2015

Burlington Deputy Police Chief Higbee Denies DUI Charge
Mike Donoghue
Burlington Free Press

ST. ALBANS -- Burlington Deputy Police Chief Andi Higbee pleaded not guilty Monday to a second-offense charge of driving under the influence related to an off-duty traffic stop in Franklin County last month.

Higbee, who is on paid leave from Burlington Police, remained free pending trial. Vermont Superior Court Judge Martin A. Maley ordered Higbee not to drive and not to consume any alcohol. Maley also mandated Higbee to submit to breath tests if asked by police.

Higbee, who was flanked at the hearing by defense lawyers Brooks McArthur and David Williams, declined comment as he left court. Higbee, 44, of Colchester remains on paid leave from Burlington Police.

McArthur told the judge that he had just learned there were some state police memos floating around that indicated state troopers were expected to average either 1.75 or 2 traffic stops per hour on the Saturday night Higbee was pulled over.

He said they will be "critical as we develop our case" and wanted to make sure they received copies from the prosecution during discovery in the case.

The quota system was first reported online by the Burlington Free Press about an hour before Higbee's arraignment.

Later McArthur told reporters that he questioned both the alleged reason for the stop and even the basis for requesting a breath test. He said the dashboard video in the cruiser fails to support a reason to stop Higbee or to process him for suspected DUI.

State Trooper Lucas Hall said he did not see Higbee use a directional signal on his 48-year-old Ford Galaxie when he turned out of Casino Road onto Vermont 105 about 12:05 a.m. July 21. Hall was about a quarter mile away, according to his dashboard video.

Hall's report indicated an alcohol level of 0.077 for Higbee's first breath test about an hour after the traffic stop, McArthur said. He said the second test three minutes later showed an alcohol level of 0.083 percent.

Franklin County State's Attorney Jim Hughes said he believes it was a valid stop and that the trooper would be able to see more than what is reported on the cruiser's dashboard camera video.

There were about a half dozen off-duty Burlington Police officers sitting in the courtroom in support of Higbee.

This is Higbee's second off-duty arrest on a DUI charge. He pleaded guilty in December 1999 to driving under the influence, and was fined and demoted. He later worked his way back up through the ranks to become second in command for the largest municipal police force in Vermont.

Burlington Police are still awaiting a report of the internal investigation. Based on past DUI cases by police throughout Vermont, Higbee could face any penalty from suspension up to dismissal.

Some Vermont police officers arrested for DUI have been suspended, fired or reassigned temporarily. One Vermont State Police trooper had three DUI arrests before he was allowed to resign.

During Higbee's two-minute arraignment, Deputy State's Attorney Heather Brochu requested Higbee be released on conditions, including that he not drive a motor vehicle without a valid driver's license. She also requested Higbee not consume any alcohol and to submit to a breath test.

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