What You Must Know About Refusing a DUI Chemical Test in Rhode Island

If you’ve been pulled over in Rhode Island and accused of driving under the influence, the experience can be overwhelming and confusing if you’re not clear about your rights and responsibilities. There are some new mandatory sanctions in place regarding this during 2015, so here are the details about the discretion that judges have regarding penalties in the event you are convicted.

You might think you’re better off refusing to submit to a chemical test if the officer suspects that you have been driving under the influence. Bear in mind that new sanctions regarding driving under the influence in Rhode Island could carry stiff consequences if you are indeed convicted.

Refusal to Submit Basics

In every refusal case in Rhode Island, the burden of proof falls to the state regarding evidence illustrating:

  • That the officer had reasonable grounds to believe the arrested individual was operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • That the arrested individual refused to submit to chemical tests
  • That the arrested person was aware/informed of his or her rights
  • That the arrested person was aware/informed about the penalties associated with refusing the test

First Offense

If this is the first time you have been charged, the judge may require that you use an ignition interlock device if you wish to operate your vehicle. Much like a breathalyzer, this device measures your blood alcohol content. If your blood alcohol content is within a safe range, the vehicle turns on. If you use this device between six months and two years, you may be eligible to have your mandatory suspension period reduced to a minimum of 30 days. You may also be eligible for a conditional hardship license to help you get to and from work with a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device.

Second Offense

On your second offense, the judge is instructed to prohibit your operation of a vehicle without an ignition interlock system. If you use this device for between one and four years, you may have your license suspension period reduce to a minimum of 60 days.

Third Offense

Under new mandatory sanctions, the judge is instructed to prohibit your use of a vehicle without an ignition interlock system. These mandatory sanctions also apply to individuals with a blood alcohol content of higher than .15% or those driving under the influence of drugs. For the third offense, the mandatory license suspension period can be reduced to a minimum of 90 days if you use the ignition interlock device for 2-10 years.

If you have been charged with refusing to submit to a chemical test, do not assume that this is a minor matter you can handle on your own. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney in Rhode Island is a wise step you can take to increase the chances that your rights will be protected. With an advocate in your corner, you’ll be more informed about your rights, responsibilities, and next steps.


Before anyone acts in reliance on this information, he or she should verify it with a competent legal professional.