The State legislature has passed a new law that allows officers to force drivers suspected of being under the influence AND are involved in accidents that cause death or serious bodily injury, to submit to a blood alcohol test.
Rhode Island law holds that any driver on a public road gives consent to a breathalyzer test if suspected of DUI. Drivers, however, can refuse to take the test. Refusal to take the breathalyzer will result in a separate charge from the DUI and will result in a loss of license, but may help avoid a DUI conviction.
This new State law denies the driver’s right to refusal when the suspected DUI has led to an accident involving serious bodily injury or death. The law will really aid the prosecution for the heightened charges of R.I.G.L. 31-27-2.2 “driving under the influence of liquor or drugs, resulting in death.”
I will be curious to see where the fine line is drawn in regards to “serious bodily injury.” What will it take for an injury to be deemed serious enough to give the officer power to force the suspected drunk driver to submit to the chemical test. I am willing to bet that this will be the subject of much litigation in the coming years.
Rhode Island legislators are happy to have this law passed in time for the Thanksgiving weekend when a higher percentage of drunk drivers are on the road. Everyone be careful out there this weekend.
Our office is experienced in defending DUI charges whether you voluntarily submitted to a breathalyzer test or were forced to take the test on the basis of this new law. If you have been charged with a DUI offense contact our office right away for a free consultation.