Federal Government & Drunk Driving

The U.S. Department of Transportation is urging states to adopt a "No Refusal Policy" with regards to driving under the influence ("DUI").  In most states, when drivers are arrested for DUI, the police request they submit to a Breathalyzer test to determine the level of alcohol in their system.  The drivers have the right to refuse the test and if they do, no test is given.  Instead, the drivers are then charged with both DUI and Refusal to submit to a chemical test.  A handful of states have a "No Refusal Policy" meaning if a driver refuses to submit to the Breathalyzer test, the police call an off duty judge to get a search warrant.  The police use the search warrant to take a sample of the driver's blood and then test the blood to determine the level of alcohol in the driver's system.

Rhode Island, like the majority of states, allows drivers to refuse the Breathalyzer test.  Only in rare circumstances can the police get a search warrant to take a blood sample, after a driver refused the Breathalyzer test.  Rhode Island General Law 31-27-2.9 allows for a blood sample to be taken,

if an individual refuses to consent to a chemical test as provided in § 31-27-2.1, and a peace officer, as defined in § 12-7-21, has probable cause to believe that the individual has violated one or more of the following sections: 31-27-1 (driving to endanger - death resulting), 31-27-1.1 (driving to endanger - serious injury resulting), 31-27-2.2 (DUI - death resulting), or 31-27-2.6 (DUI - serious injury resulting) and that the individual was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of any intoxicating liquor, toluene or any controlled substance as defined in chapter 21-28, or any combination thereof, a chemical test may be administered without the consent of that individual provided that the peace officer first obtains a search warrant authorizing administration of the chemical test. The chemical test shall determine the amount of the alcohol or the presence of a controlled substance in that person's blood or breath.

The Federal Government is now encouraging all states to adopt a "No Refusal Policy" in hopes of reducing the number of drunk driving fatalities and increase the number of drunk driving convictions.

If you or a family member has been charged with DUI/DWI, OUIRefusal or an alcohol related offense, please allow Attorney Robert H. Humphrey's reputation, experience and skill to successfully guide you through the legal process.  Please contact Attorney Robert H. Humphrey, Esq., at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at
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