It is standard procedure for a police officer to ask you to submit to a chemical test if they believe that you are driving while under the influence (DUI) in Rhode Island. Additionally, it has also been common practice to refuse the chemical test if you are asked to take one. However, that may or may not be the best option for you. There are serious consequences to refusing a breath test in Rhode Island. According to Rhode Island law, a person is required—not requested—to submit to a chemical test when asked by the police. If you have been charged with refusing to submit to a chemical test or find yourself in a situation where you are being asked to submit to a chemical test, you do not have to make the decisions alone. You have the right to have an attorney represent you. Attorney David Ellison is an experienced Rhode Island DUI and Refusal lawyer who can help represent you.
WHAT IS A CHEMICAL TEST?
A chemical test can come in three forms, either a preliminary breathalyzer test (PBT), breath test (breathalyzer), or a blood test. A preliminary breathalyzer test requires that the person blow into a device (portable breathalyzer) while still at the scene of the traffic stop. The device will then calculate the person blood alcohol content (BAC) and based upon that reading the police will decide whether they should arrest that person for a DUI. The next test, the breathalyzer test, is essentially the same as the PBT but it is done at the police station. The last test, the blood test, is done at a hospital, done by a medical professional, and is the most accurate of the three tests.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PRELIMINARY BREATHALYZER TEST AND A BREATHALYZER TEST?
The are several differences between a preliminary breathalyzer test PBT and a Breathalyzer. The PBT is done at the scene of the traffic stop whereas the breathalyzer test is conducted at the station. Additionally, the breathalyzer test is regulated and maintained by the Rhode Island Department of Health. Furthermore, because of the difference in accuracy a PBT cannot be used in court as evidence of the driver's impairment, it can only be used to justify the officer's arrest of that person. Whereas the breathalyzer test conducted at the station can be used in court as evidence of the driver's impairment. Lastly, because of the difference in accuracy and admissibility, the refusal of a PBT is a different offense that is a traffic violation that has an 85 dollar fine, and the refusal of a chemical test is a different violation with much more severe penalties.
WILL I GO TO JAIL FOR REFUSING TO SUBMIT TO A CHEMICAL TEST?
If it is your first chemical refusal offense in the state of Rhode Island then no, you cannot be sentence to imprisonment. A first offense chemical refusal is treated as a civil traffic violation and no civil traffic violation has a punishment of jail time. The second and third offenses have a penalty of potential jail time associated with them.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR THE REFUSAL OF A CHEMICAL TEST?
Chemical Test Refusal First Offense:
- A Civil violation.
- $200.00 - $500.00 fine.
- Ten (10) to sixty (60) hours community service.
- Six (6) to twelve (12) months loss of license.
- Participation in DUI School or alcohol counseling.
Chemical Test Refusal Second Offense:
- A Misdemeanor.
- Up to six (6) months imprisonment.
- $600.00 to $1,000.00 fine.
- Sixty (60) to one hundred (100) hours community service.
- One (1) to two (2) years loss of license.
- Alcohol counseling.
Chemical Test Refusal Third Offense:
- A Misdemeanor.
- Up to one (1) year imprisonment.
- $800.00 to $1,000.00 fine.
- Not less than one hundred (100) hours community service.
- Two (2) to five (5) years loss of license.
- Alcohol counseling.
WHAT ARE THE LAWS FOR CHEMICAL REFUSAL IN RHODE ISLAND?
“Any person who operates a motor vehicle within this state shall be deemed to have given his or her consent to chemical tests of his or her breath, blood, and/or urine for the purpose of determining the chemical content of his or her body fluids or breath. No more than two (2) complete tests, one for the presence of intoxicating liquor and one for the presence of toluene or any controlled substance, shall be administered at the direction of a law enforcement officer having reasonable grounds to believe the person to have been driving a motor vehicle within this state while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, toluene, or any controlled substance, or any combination of these…. If a person, having been placed under arrest, refuses upon the request of a law enforcement officer to submit to the tests, none shall be given, but a judge or magistrate of the traffic tribunal or district court judge or magistrate…. shall promptly order that the person's operator's license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle in this state be immediately suspended, however, said suspension shall be subject to the hardship provisions enumerated in § 31-27-2.8. A traffic tribunal judge or magistrate, or a district court judge or magistrate, pursuant to the terms of subsection (c), shall order as follows.”
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM CHARGED WITH THE REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO A CHEMICAL TEST?
Breathalyzer refusal charges are not to be taken lightly, they have serious negative consequences that can affect not only your everyday life but your family's as well. There are serious consequences to your ability to drive. If you have been charged with chemical test refusal in the state of Rhode Island, contact experienced criminal defense Attorney David Ellison for legal assistance.