Can I refuse a DUI chemical test in Rhode Island?

Each state has different laws regarding driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, known as DUI and DWI. In Rhode Island, for example, the legal limit for blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration, known as BAC, is .08 percent, which is also the "per-se" BAC level in all states. 

However, some states have lower zero-tolerance levels, and the DUI procedures and protocols for stopping a driver, conducting DUI testing and arresting a driver for driving under the influence can all vary from state to state. Here is some information about how the law handles DUI in Rhode Island.

Field sobriety and chemical tests

One of the most common procedures that takes place during a traffic stop for suspected drunk driving is that the police officer will conduct a field sobriety test to determine whether the driver was driving impaired. The Rhode Island Bar Association lists different types of field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn test and the one-leg stand test. The field sobriety testing allows an officer to make the determination about whether to arrest a suspect on charges of DUI.

After arrest, the police may administer a chemical test to determine the exact blood alcohol content level. Chemical tests can take the form of a breath test, a blood test or a urine test. Rhode Island law allows for a person to refuse to submit to any of these tests. 

Refusing a test

Refusing to submit to these tests does not come without consequences. A police officer may decide to arrest you if you refuse to submit to the test they request. In addition, refusal to take a test may subject you to both administrative penalties. Those penalties can range from fines up to jail time. Clearly, there are risks if you refuse to submit to a chemical DUI test. However, sometimes police make mistakes, so you should not despair if you find yourself in a situation in which you refused a test and now you face stiff penalties. 

One of the best steps you can take if you are struggling to understand the penalties you face because you refused a DUI chemical test is to have a consultation with a DUI attorney. This type of lawyer has experience with Rhode Island law as it applies to drunken driving charges and can assist you in analyzing your particular case and developing a strategy to move forward.

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Nicholas J. Hemond Attorney at Law
1 Turks Head Place, 12th Floor
Providence, RI 02903

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