Rhode Island’s Ignition Interlock DUI Laws – RI Hardship License or Work License

Although the law is more than two years old, many of Rhode Island’s citizens are not aware of the ignition interlock law of 2015. The Rhode Island legislature looked to the Rhode Island State Police, whom have trained with other state police departments where interlock laws already exist. States that have used this system have seen an average of a two-thirds reduction in repeat offenses. It is expected that these ignition interlocking systems will allow for the reduction of fatal DUI accidents, which, in turn, will also reduce the amount of Rhode Island DUI lawsuits.  Drunk Driving advocacy groups also seemed to support the policy behind the passage of this new law.  In addition, this law enables a convicted motorist, or a motorist who has a pending case with a preliminary suspension, to operate a vehicle for a particular purpose, with the device installed in the vehicle. Read More...

"Pursuant to Rhode Island Drunk Driving, DWI and DUI procedures, a driver is entitled to refuse to take a chemical test upon the request of law enforcement."

Pursuant to Rhode Island Drunk Driving, DWI and DUI procedures, a driver is entitled to refuse to take a chemical test upon the request of law enforcement.  Of course, this almost always gives rise to a “refusal” charge being levied against the suspect. In Rhode Island, a criminal defense attorney will often times utilize this refusal charge as leverage to obtain a dismissal in the criminal DUI matter.  In light of the fact that a refusal charge is civil in nature as opposed to criminal, it is often a more favorable result to admit to the refusal charge in consideration of the criminal charge being dismissed.  This practice has reached customary status among Judges and prosecutors across Rhode Island.

This blog entry also discusses the application of chemical tests to suspects that are unconscious or in such a medical state that the test is administered for purposes of medical treatment, rather than strictly for law enforcement purposes.

All fifty states and the District of Columbia have enacted statutes authorizing the admission in evidence of the results of chemical intoxication tests. These statutes are commonly referred to as "implied consent laws"; they generally declare that driving is a privilege subject to state licensing, with one of the conditions for obtaining a license that the driver submit to a test for intoxication on request. The police must have probable cause to request a chemical intoxication test. Because of differences in language among the state statutes, it is necessary for counsel to consult his state's statute and to refer to supportive case decisions to ascertain the full rights of his client respecting submission to these tests.

Differences in statutory provisions include such matters as sanction or the lack of sanction for refusal to submit to a test, admissibility as evidence of the fact of refusal to submit to test, the type or types of tests that can be made, whether the police or the defendant can choose the type of test to be administered, the qualifications of the persons who give or supervise the tests, the predicate that must be laid for the introduction of results of the tests, whether the defendant is entitled to his own independent test in addition to the one administered by the police, and whether a dead, unconscious, or disabled person may be tested without permission. Implied consent statutes ordinarily do permit the person tested to have a physician of his own choice administer a chemical intoxication test in addition to the one administered at the direction of the police.

The refusal of a motorist to submit to a chemical intoxication test generally constitutes grounds, under implied consent statutes, for the suspension or revocation of his driver's license. In most states, acquittal of the charge of driving while intoxicated does not preclude revocation or suspension of the motorist's license for refusal to submit to the test. However, the motorist generally has a right to a hearing on the question of the reasonableness of his refusal to submit to the test before his license may be revoked or suspended. Currently, the States of Texas, Wisconsin, Mississippi, and North Carolina do not penalize the driver for refusing to submit to the test if a driving while intoxicated case is dismissed or there was a finding of not guilty.  Read More...

"In Rhode Island, the prosecution can prove the elements of a DWI or DUI charge without the admissibility of a chemical test"

In Rhode Island, the prosecution can prove the elements of a DWI or DUI charge without the admissibility of a chemical test. These cases are referred to as “observation” cases. As one can imagine, it is more difficult for the prosecution to prove the elements of a DUI without an empirical analysis of the suspect’s blood alcohol content; however, it can be done in a variety of different factual scenarios. Objective signs of intoxication, those ordinarily testified to as having been observed by the arresting officer or other prosecution witness, include the odor of alcohol on the breath, slurring of speech, inflamed and watery eyes, a ruddy complexion, an unsteady gait, and poor coordination. Usually, one or more of these observed signs comprise the basis for the officer's probable cause in making the arrest. However, as is discussed in the section that follows, a variety of conditions affecting an individual's health can present the same or similar symptoms. Read More...