When a driver is pulled over for a DUI the law enforcement officer will ask the individual to submit to a breath test, which is also called a breathalyzer test This type of test calculates how much alcohol is in a driver's blood system at the time he or she is stopped. The results are not only used as factors in an arrest and the filing of criminal charges, but they can also be used as evidence against the driver in a DUI case.
This brings up the question of whether or not it is best for a driver to refuse the breathalyzer test. Before making this decision, it is important for each driver to be aware of the penalties that can be imposed on individuals in Rhode Island who refuse to submit to chemical tests (including breath tests) when suspected of drunk driving. While refusing a test could be helpful in certain cases, it is usually more beneficial for drivers to take the breathalyzer test in order to avoid these automatic penalties. If a driver takes a breath test and is shown to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is above the legal limit, he or she still has the chance of avoiding penalties with the help of a capable DUI attorney, who might be able to refute the validity of the test results.
In the State of Rhode Island, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. A breathalyzer is a device that takes a breath sample from the driver in order to measure that person's BAC level. If a driver refuses to submit to this type of test in Rhode Island, he or she will be charged with refusal to submit to a chemical test and DUI. The arraignment for the refusal charge is very soon after an arrest, often before any actual hearing for the driver's DUI charge. At the refusal arraignment, a driver's license is often suspended on a preliminary basis.
The penalties for refusal to take a chemical test are as follows, according to Rhode Island General Laws §31-27-2.1:
· First violation: fine of $200 to $500; 10 to 60 hours of public community service; six months to a year of driver's license suspension; completion of DUI course, or alcohol or drug treatment program
· Second violation in five-year period: guilty of misdemeanor; up to six months of imprisonment; fine of $600 to $1,000; 60 to 100 hours of community service; one to two years of driver's license suspension; completion of alcohol or drug treatment program
· Third or subsequent violation in five-year period: guilty of misdemeanor; up to one year imprisonment; fine of $800 to $1,000; at least 100 hours of community service; two to five years of driver's license suspension; completion of alcohol or drug program
By submitting to a breath test, a driver can avoid these penalties. Even when there are breathalyzer test results that show a driver had a BAC of 0.08% or higher, it is still possible to refute the validity of those results. It might be possible to show—with the help of a skilled lawyer—that the test was subject to error, such as mechanical problems with the device. Or, it might be possible to show that the individual administering the test made a mistake.
If you are dealing with a possible DUI conviction or penalties from a breath test refusal, contact Law Offices of Robert H. Humphrey as soon as possible. Attorney Robert H. Humphrey has over 20 years of experience in successfully handling drunk driving and refusal cases. Having a good attorney could help you improve your chances of having your case dismissed or your charges reduced.