Can You Get Charged WIth a DUI if You Refused The Breathalyzer?

Published 09/19/2020

The short answer is Yes.

It is commonly referred to as an OBSERVATION CASE.

In Rhode Island, you can be charged with a DUI based upon the observations of the police officer and other witnesses. The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs to a degree that rendered you incapable of safely operating a vehicle.

If you refused the chemical test (Breathalyzer/ Blood Test), the lack of  a breathalyzer reading, makes proving the DUI, beyond a reasonable doubt,  more difficult for the prosecution because they are relying on observations alone.

**Please read my blog post on What to do When Pulled Over For a DUI in Rhode Island.

The prosecutors will use the following evidence to prove their case for DUI:

  • Erratic operation
    • swerving, speeding, slow driving, accidents
  • Initial Observations of Defendant
    • Appearance - bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech, odor of alcohol
    • Movements – Slow, lethargic, confused, fumbling
  • Any Statements made by Defendant
    • Admission of Drinking or Consumption of Drugs
    • Being at a Party or Bar
    • Admission to being in wrong location (going home but going in the complete opposite direction.)
  • Observations Outside the Vehicle
    • Movements- Unsteady on Feet, Falling Over,
    • Performance on Field Sobriety Test
  • Statements Made After Arrest
    • No matter what you tell the police at this point will not undue the arrest. What ever information you give can only further incriminate you.



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