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Should I Refuse a Breathalyzer if I Get Pulled Over for a DUI in Rhode Island?

Posted by Ken Barrett | Oct 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

If you have ever been pulled over under the suspicion of DUI, you know that you will be asked to take a breathalyzer test by the officer who stopped you. However, many wonder if they are better off taking the breathalyzer test or refusing to do so. On this page, we will share the information you need to know so you are aware of your rights if you are ever pulled over.

Do keep in mind that if you are facing a DUI charge, it's important to seek the help of an experienced Rhode Island DUI lawyer to help you with your case. You do not have to accept the charges you are facing. We can put together a defensive strategy to minimize the penalties you face or get them dropped altogether. 

Should I Refuse a Breathalyzer?

Rhode Island law states that any person who operates a motor vehicle within the state is deemed to have given consent to chemical tests of breath, blood, and/or urine to determine whether or not alcohol or other controlled substances are present. However, you can decide to refuse to take a breathalyzer test or other chemical tests.

It's important to know that it is considered an offense to refuse a breathalyzer test in the state of Rhode Island. Because of this, you will be facing consequences for your refusal. By refusing to take a breathalyzer test, your license will be suspended immediately. You will be required to surrender your license within five days of receiving notice of the suspension. This is a consequence that could have a serious impact on your life. Losing your license can cause you to lose your job and may potentially prohibit you from finding work in the future.

Ultimately, there is no right answer as to whether or not you should submit to a breathalyzer test upon being pulled over under the suspicion of DUI. The best option for you will depend on the circumstances surrounding your unique situation. If you are 100% confident that you will pass the chemical test, you should choose to submit to the breathalyzer test. If, however, someone was injured in an accident or you have had a criminal DUI within the past five years, it's best to refuse the breathalyzer. If the criminal conviction of a DUI could be damaging to your career (for example, it might cause you to lose employment), it is likely best to refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test. If you need your license and feel a criminal conviction will not affect you seriously, choose to take the test if none of the aforementioned suggestions apply.

It's best to weight your options carefully before deciding whether or not you will submit to a breathalyzer or chemical test. Consider the implications each decision has for you and your life. The penalties of each decision are included below to help you make an informed decision.

What Happens Next

If you choose to refuse the breathalyzer test or a chemical test, you will usually still be charged with a DUI based on what the officer observed at the time of the incident. The officer will be required to prove he or she had probable cause to make an arrest and reasonable suspicion that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. This moves through the court system as an “observation case,” which is often dismissed in many towns and cities in Rhode Island if you choose to agree to plea deal.

However, if you are found guilty of refusal to submit to a chemical test, this is considered a civil offense and you will face penalties for your actions. For the first violation within five years, you may receive a license suspension for a minimum of six months to a maximum of 12 months. You also face various fines and court costs, plus you may be required to take a driver retraining course or complete a specified number of hours of community service.

There is one main advantage in choosing not to submit to a breathalyzer test. The penalty you receive for your first refusal will not be considered a criminal conviction on your record. Refusing the test for a second time will, however, be considered a criminal offense in the state of Rhode Island.

If you choose to submit to a breathalyzer or chemical test and you fail, you will be charged with a criminal DUI. Your case will move through District Court, where the state will have to prove you were guilty. The office has to prove he or she had probable cause to make the arrest and will have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you were too intoxicated to drive a motor vehicle at the time of the incident. There officer will also have to prove that you were properly read your rights at the time you were pulled over.

Unlike what happens when refusing a breathalyzer test, you will not automatically lose your license if you choose to submit to a test and fail. You will be able to keep your license as your case moves through the criminal justice system within Rhode Island.

Losing a criminal DUI case comes with very serious consequences. You will have a criminal conviction on your record, plus you face jail time, license suspension, hefty fines, and other penalties to be decided at your court case.

Consulting With a Rhode Island DUI Lawyer

Whether you choose not to submit to a breathalyzer or chemical test or you submit and are found guilty, it's important that you seek help from an experience Rhode Island DUI lawyer. The right attorney can help you with your case and fight to get the charges lowered or dropped. If you or someone you know is facing a DUI charge or charges for refusing a breathalyzer test, contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Ken Barrett

Attorney Kensley Barrett is a skilled criminal defense lawyer with a proven track record in handling a wide range of cases in Rhode Island. Known for his strong background in trial advocacy and negotiation, Barrett is dedicated to providing personalized and effective representation for his clients. Recognized as a "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers and with a 10.0 "Superb" rating on Avvo, he consistently achieves successful outcomes, including acquittals, dismissals, and reduced charges.


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Kensley Barrett

Our law firm was founded on the belief that working with us is more than just hiring a lawyer. Working with us will bring you peace of mind and also allow you to continue with your regular life while we attend to your legal matters. Our vast experience means that it allows us to excel in both aggressively representing your interests and generating the best possible result for you.