RI Lawyer Robert Humphrey Lectures at RI Bar Association

I am greatly honored to have once again lectured the members of the Rhode Island Bar Association on the successful detection, prosecution and defense of drunk driving (DUI, DWI, OUI) cases. The March of 2012 DUI 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. This CLE was historic and marked the first time that the RI Bar Association had a CLE program broadcasted live over the Internet. This new format allows attorneys watching from their offices or homes to actively participate in a CLE program by asking questions of the speakers, even though they are not physical present.

This educational program provides an opportunity for both prosecutor and defense attorneys to learn about legal issues beyond the basics of these types of complicated DUI cases involving 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 the advanced trial techniques and practice pointers for the successful prosecution and defense of DUI and Refusal cases.

In every drunk driving ("DUI") case the Prosecution and Defense are concerned with five (5) basic components of the case as follows:

  1. Can the Prosecution establish the requisite reasonable suspicion to stop the suspect's vehicle;
  2. Can the Prosecution prove the suspect's operation of the vehicle;
  3. Can the Prosecution demonstrate the necessary probable cause to arrest the suspect;
  4. 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
  5. 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 published article in the Rhode Island Bar Journal entitled " Drunk Driving: Beyond the Basics."

Attorneys who attended the lecture received an in person demonstration of the standardized field sobriety tests by a local police officer and heard from the officer regarding his experience in handling DUI arrests. Attorneys were able to ask questions of the officer and Attorneys also heard from a representative from the Department of Attorney General who discussed the interplay between drunk driving and refusal to submit to chemical test cases. Although two separate and distinct charges, DUI and Refusal cases stem from the same arrest and must be considered together when determining case strategy. Please see my recently published article in the Rhode Island Bar Journal entitled "Refusal Cases: Beyond the Basics."

Attendees were provided with updates about recent DUI cases. In U.S. v. Bullcoming, the U.S. Supreme Court held that lab certifications and reports which detail a motorist's blood alcohol level were testimonial statements. For that evidence to be admissible at trial, the actual lab technician/scientist who performed the tests and authored the reports had to a witness at trial and subject to cross-examination. In North Smithfield v. Casperson, a motorist called police with a report of erratic driving and provided a description of the vehicle. The police located and stopped the motor vehicle without making any of their own observations about erratic driving. The Trial Magistrate dismissed the refusal charge finding that the stop violated the 4 th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects against unlawful searches and seizures. In Kemp v. RITT, a motorist provided a tip in person to police regarding an erratic driver. The motorist pointed out the vehicle to the officer. The police then stopped the motor vehicle without making any of their own observations about erratic driving. In upholding the Refusal charge, the District Court Judge ruled that the stop was lawful. The Judge ruled that the tip was reliable because the officer was able to verify information from the tip in real time. In State v. Scalisi, the Court addressed standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) during a DUI trial. During the officer's testimony he admitted he deviated from the specific SFST instructions and that any deviations meant the results of the SFSTs were invalid. The Judge found the motorist not guilty. Jamestown v. White dealt with the issue of extra-territorial arrests. A motorist was arrested by a Jamestown police officer in North Kingstown. The Court dismissed the case finding that the police officer lacked jurisdiction to make an arrest outside of Jamestown.

The law of drunk driving and refusal to submit to a chemical test is an ever evolving area of the law. If you or a family member has been charged with drunk driving or refusal to submit to a chemical test, 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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