Refusing to Submit to a Breathalyzer in Rhode Island

Posted by April Picozzi | Mar 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

If you have been pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) in Rhode Island, you will likely be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test to determine whether you are driving while over the legal limit. While refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test is an option, it is not an option that comes without consequences. 

After refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test, it's important to know what consequences you can face, along with what legal rights you can still assert. 

Breathalyzers in Rhode Island

A breathalyzer is a device used to measure a person's blood alcohol content (BAC) through a sample of the person's breath. 

Rhode Island, like most states, has implied consent laws with regard to breathalyzer tests. This means that by applying for a Rhode Island driver's license, a person agrees to submit to a breathalyzer test if pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence. 

Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test in Rhode Island

According to R.I. Gen. Laws 31-27-2.1, to be charged with refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test, a prosecutor must prove the following elements: 

  • The arresting officer had reasonable grounds for his or her belief that the person had been driving under the influence; 
  • The driver was informed that they have a right to an independent medical exam; 
  • The driver was told of the repercussions of refusing a breathalyzer test; and 
  • The driver nevertheless refused the breathalyzer test. 

A first offense of refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test is a civil violation rather than a criminal offense. If you are facing a first offense of refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test, you can be subjected to: 

  • A loss of your license for up to one year;
  • A fine of up to $500;
  • Mandatory community service;
  • A driving course; and
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment.

Second and subsequent offenses carry criminal penalties along with a much longer suspension of a person's driver's license. These are some of the toughest penalties in the country for breathalyzer refusal offenses.

Should You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Rhode Island?

When it comes to whether a person should refuse a breathalyzer after being pulled over for driving under the influence, there is no clear-cut answer. Instead, whether a person should submit to a breath test depends on a variety of factors at play when the person is pulled over, including: 

  • How much you think you drank before driving;
  • Whether an accident occurred; and
  • Whether you have previously refused a breathalyzer in the past five years.

If you have refused a breathalyzer test in Rhode Island, one thing is certain: it is critical to speak with a seasoned DUI defense attorney to discuss your legal rights and know the options available to you.

Lost Your License? We're Here to Help

If you have lost your driver's license due to refusing to submit to a breathalyzer, the team of DUI defense attorneys at Inman & Tourgee is standing by to provide you with the legal representation you need. To discuss your options with a member of our legal team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (401) 823-9200 today.

About the Author

April Picozzi

PUBLIC ADJUSTER / OPERATIONS & FINANCE MANAGER April M. Picozzi joined the firm in 2013 as a licensed Independent Adjuster and legal assistant to Mark D. Tourgee, Esq. She handles all aspects of personal injury claims including client intake, maintaining client files, negotiating settlements and assi...


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