Bennington County, VT- The Chairman for the Suderland Selectboard has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI following his arrest in December of 2011.

On Tuesday, Mark Hyde, 43, appeared before the Bennington Supreme Court to plead guilty to charges of DUI greater that the legal limit, in exchange the state dropped charges of “DUI #1” and negligent driving, according to the Bennington Banner.

The plea deal required that Hyde admit he was drunk in December of 2011 when he crashed his truck into a tree. His penalty required he pay a $750 fine and additional fees of $414. In Vermont, a first DUI conviction carries a maximum of two years in jail and suspension of license for a minimum of 90 days.

On Dec. 20, 2011, police received a call reporting a truck had run off North Road, hit a tree and the driver was trapped inside. When the trooper arrived, he found Hyde behind the wheel and had sustained serious injuries, according to the Bennington Banner.

Hyde had to be rushed to the hospital, he had suffered a broken foot, leg, sternum and fractured ribs, pelvis, internal bleeding also lacerations to the head the Banner said.

According to the arresting officer, Hyde was incoherent in the treatment room, unable to name the day or understand what had just happened. The officer noted he had slurred speech and his eyes were bloodshot and watery.

While Hyde was at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, the arresting officer conducted a blood test which later showed that Hyde’s BAC was .098’ slightly over the legal limit of .08.

The witness who reported the accident saw the crash after she passed him on North Road and then called a male friend. The man went to the scene and as the Bennington Banner reported he recognized the truck because he had previously seen the vehicle speeding down the road and intended to tell the man to slow down because he could cause an accident.

Driving under the influence of alcohol alone is dangerous, but when combined with excessive speed it can be lethal. Mr. Hyde was fortunate that he did not kill himself or harm another driver.

One thing Hyde had working in his favor was his level of intoxication; an experienced DUI attorney can help a client get reduced charges or a more lenient sentence if their level of intoxication is slightly above the legal limit. Unlike some states, Vermont allows DUI offenders to plea for a lesser charge of “wet reckless” or reckless driving involving alcohol.

It’s important for Vermont residents who are charged with a DUI to retain legal counsel, only a DUI attorney knows which DUI defense strategies will work in your case. Trying to handle the charges without a legal expertise is never good idea. Having a DUI conviction on your record can affect a person in many ways; transportation can be problematic because the driver often has their license suspended, it can close the door to some job opportunities, and a conviction can be very costly.