April 26, 2017

No charges filed after DUI investigation of chief

Nelson violated policy for Williston officers

Sept. 30, 2010

By Marianne Apfelbaum
Observer staff

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Thomas J. Donovan concluded his investigation of Williston Police Chief Roy Nelson late last week and no criminal charges will be filed, according to a press release.

At or around midnight on Sept. 13, Nelson received a phone call at his home regarding an allegedly intoxicated man with a rifle, according to Town Manager Rick McGuire. Nelson drove to the scene, where a Vermont State police officer subsequently detected the odor of alcohol on the chief’s breath. He was brought to the Vermont State Police barracks in Williston, where his blood alcohol concentration was determined to be .031, according to Donovan’s statement and confirmed by Nelson’s lawyer, Brooks McArthur, last week.

As part of the state’s attorney’s investigation, a state chemist performed a “relation back calculation” and determined that Nelson’s blood alcohol concentration at the time he was driving was .061. The legal limit for driving in Vermont is .08.

Late Wednesday morning, a confidential copy of the full report from Donovan was hand-delivered to McGuire. Donovan’s press statement referred to Nelson’s behavior as a “lapse in judgment.”

“The bottom line is that no law was broken,” McGuire said after reviewing the report.

But McGuire acknowledged that Nelson violated a rule from the police department’s policy handbook that states, “Members will not appear for duty or carry a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance to any degree or with an odor of intoxicants on their breath.” McGuire noted that this is a “very, very high standard.”

From an employer’s standpoint, the town has a variety of actions it can take with regard to the incident.

“The range of actions goes from doing nothing to terminating the chief,” McGuire said. Referring to any potential action as a “personnel matter,” McGuire said, “I can say that I am in the process of taking appropriate action. It does not involve firing the chief.”

Asked what officers should do if they’ve had a drink with dinner and are faced with a call in the middle of the night, McGuire said, “I recommend that they follow the policy.”

Nelson referred questions to his lawyer, who did not return phone calls prior to press deadline.


  1. youngvt says:

    I am writing in response to Mr. Hoxworth’s article on transportation costs for the poor in Vermont. I would like to suggest further research on this topic before we simply just give another handout or tax credit. The poor, may, have a higher disproportionate burden on their transportation costs than the wealthier residents of Vermont; however, they also have a lower disproportionate burden on taxes and housing. Pick your evil.
    We can simply just give every poor Vermonter an energy efficient car, gas card, free tuition, renter’s rebate, etc.…but the only way out of poverty is through the combination of education, hard work, and discipline. Education and degrees are not handed out or purchased; a person has to EARN them. This seems to be the only way out of poverty—sorry, there are no shortcuts.
    If we continue this trend of enabling, our entire state will be a welfare state.

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