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Can you refuse a breath test to avoid a DUI in Rhode Island?

| Jan 13, 2021 | Criminal Law |

If you swerve over the centerline, forget to turn your headlights on or drive well under the speed limit, it’s possible that Rhode Island police officers will suspect that you are driving under the influence. They may pull you over and attempt to confirm whether or not you have signs of impairment.

During a traffic stop, a police officer may request a chemical breath test. In fact, they may also request a second chemical test to check you for the presence of prohibited drugs. Can you refuse to take the tests as a way of avoiding a DUI charge?

Refusing a test is a criminal offense

As someone driving on Rhode Island roads, you have already given implied consent to chemical testing for public safety purposes. If you refuse a test requested by an officer, they will likely arrest you for a violation of the implied consent law.

What are the penalties you face if you refuse a test?

The first time you refuse, the penalty is a fine of between $200 and $500, as well as between 10 and 60 hours of community service. You can lose your driver’s license for between six months and a year.

A second refusal in a five-year period can mean six months of imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, up to 100 hours of community service and the loss of your license for as long as two years. A third or subsequent refusal has many of the same maximum penalties, but the minimums increase. The loss of your license can also extend for up to five years.

Isn’t a breath test refusal better than a DUI?

These penalties aren’t as severe as the penalties for DUI conviction, but it’s worth noting that refusing a test won’t necessarily let you avoid a DUI charge. Anyone accused of refusing a test requested when an officer had probable cause could face criminal consequences. If you are facing charges, it’s wise to seek guidance from an experienced attorney.

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