Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test

Implied Consent Law in Rhode Island

In accordance with Rhode Island General Laws section 31-27-2.1, any person who operates a motor vehicle within the state shall be deemed to have given his or her consent to chemical tests of his or her breath, blood, and/or urine for the purpose of determining the chemical content of his or her body fluids or breath.

Elements of the Offense

In each and every Refusal case, the burden is upon the State to prove the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:

  1. That the law enforcement officer making the sworn report had reasonable grounds to believe that the arrested person had been driving a motor vehicle within this state while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  2. That the arrested person refused to submit to the chemical tests upon the request of a law enforcement officer.
  3. That the arrested person had been informed of his or her rights in accordance with the provisions of Rhode Island law.
  4. That the arrested person had been informed of the penalties incurred as a result of the noncompliance of taking the chemical tests.

Proof by clear and convincing evidence means that the judge must believe the truth of the facts asserted by the state to be highly probable.  This is a lesser standard then the criminal burden, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but a higher standard that the burden in civil matters, proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

Penalties for Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test

The penalties for violation of the charge of Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test are as follows:

(1) Impose for the first violation a fine in the amount of two hundred dollars ($200) to five hundred dollars ($500) and shall order the person to perform ten (10) to sixty (60) hours of public community restitution. The person's driving license in this state shall be suspended for a period of six (6) months to one year. The traffic tribunal judge shall require attendance at a special course on driving while intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance and/or alcohol or drug treatment for the individual.
(2) Every person convicted for a second violation within a five (5) year period shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, shall be imprisoned for not more than six (6) months and shall pay a fine in the amount of six hundred dollars ($600) to one thousand dollars ($1,000), order the person to perform sixty (60) to one hundred (100) hours of public community restitution, and the person's driving license in this state shall be suspended for a period of one year to two (2) years. The judge shall require alcohol and/or drug treatment for the individual.
(3) Every person convicted for a third or subsequent violation within a five (5) year period shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be imprisoned for not more than one year, fined eight hundred dollars ($800) to one thousand dollars ($1,000), order the person to perform not less than one hundred (100) hours of public community restitution, and the person's operator's license in this state shall be suspended for a period of two (2) years to five (5) years. The judge shall require alcohol or drug treatment for the individual. Provided, that prior to the reinstatement of a license to a person charged with a third or subsequent violation within a three (3) year period, a hearing shall be held before a judge. At the hearing the judge shall review the person's driving record,
his or her employment history, family background, and any other pertinent factors that would indicate that the person has demonstrated behavior which warrants the reinstatement of his or her license.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test you need to speak with an attorney well-versed in handling such matters.  Contact Attorney Christopher E. Friel to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case at 401-737-4200 x23.