I am honored to have recently addressed the Washington County Bar Association regarding the successful prosecution and defense of drunk driving and Refusal cases. Washington County consists of the Towns of Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, New Shoreham, North Kingstown, Richmond, South Kingstown and Westerly. This continuing legal education program is part of the DUI and Refusal cases Beyond the Basics series of lectures and articles the Law Offices of Robert H. Humphrey is conducting for the Rhode Island Bar Association and other educational programs in 2010. The discussion of issues beyond the basics of these types of complicated cases involve the admissibility of chemical test results, the admissibility of the standardized field sobriety tests and the suspect's statutory and constitutional rights to a timely release on bail. Emphasis is given to teaching both the prosecutors and defense attorneys in attendance the advance trial techniques and practice pointers for the successful prosecution and defense of DUI and Refusal cases.
In every drunk driving ("DUI" or "DWI") case the Prosecution and Defense are concerned with five (5) basic components of the case as follows:
- Can the Prosecution establish the requisite reasonable suspicion to stop the suspect's vehicle;
- Can the Prosecution prove the suspect's operation of the vehicle;
- Can the Prosecution demonstrate the necessary probable cause to arrest the suspect;
- Can the Prosecution prove that the suspect was under the influence of intoxicating liquor and/or drugs to a degree that rendered him/her incapable of safely operating the vehicle; and
- Can the Prosecution prove compliance with R.I.G.L. 31-27-3 (the suspect's right to an independent physical examination by a physician of his/her own choosing).
Please see my recently published article in the Rhode Island Bar Journal article entitled "Drunk Driving: Beyond the Basics."
In every refusal case the State must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, four (4) key elements to sustain a refusal charge. The four (4) key elements are the following:
- That the law enforcement officer who submitted the sworn report to the RITT had reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant had been driving a vehicle within the State while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs;
- That the defendant, while under a lawful arrest, refused to submit to a chemical test upon the request of the law enforcement officer;
- That the defendant had been informed of his or her rights in accordance with R.I.G.L. 31-27-3; and
- That the defendant had been informed of the penalties incurred as a result of non-compliance with R.I.G.L. 31-27-2.1.