Refusal to Submit to a Breathalyzer Test

If an officer has probable cause to make a traffic stop and believes that you may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), then the officer may request that you take a breathalyzer test.  While it may seem invasive, or an infringement on your personal liberties, the police do possess the authority to request this test.  Any person who utilizes the public roads of the State of Rhode Island is deemed to have given consent to a breathalyzer test by virtue of using the roads.  

While the police can request that you submit to the test, they can not force you to submit to a breathalyzer test.  Refusal, however, results in a separate and independent charge. If you refuse to the test, the police will lack evidence of your intoxication.  You may, however, still be arrested and charged with DUI.  If an officer, based on his observations and a field sobriety test, believes that you are intoxicated and unable to safely operate your vehicle, you will still be charged with DUI.  A second charge for refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test will be added against you.

Following a refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, your license will be immediately suspended pending a hearing at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.  At that hearing the judge may impose, for a first violation, a fine of up to $500 and order up to sixty (60) hours of community service.  In addition, your license will be suspended for a period of six (6) months to a year.  You may also be required to attend classes and courses on driving while intoxicated and/or substance abuse treatment.  Second and subsequent offenses have more serious penalties including longer terms of license suspension.