DUI & Refusal

An Experienced Rhode Island DUI & Refusal Attorney

A Rhode Island DUI or Refusal arrest has serious consequences. You may lose your Rhode Island driver’s license, experience a substantial increase in car insurance rates, pay large fines and court costs and possibly face jail time.

If you’re facing DUI charges, you need to know that someone is watching out for your best interests and making sure you take advantage of all the legal protections available to you. You need someone to help you decide whether you should challenge the results of a breath test, question the arresting officer’s testimony, challenge the basis for the motor vehicle stop, or minimize the sanctions you face to the greatest extent possible.

Unlike some DUI lawyers Attorney Friel does not merely escort you to the courtroom in order to plead guilty as charged, however instead he is dedicated to successful results and protecting your future.

Other Criminal Defense Services

Attorney Friel is qualified and experienced to handle any type of criminal defense related matter, including:

An Experienced Rhode Island DUI and Refusal Attorney

A Rhode Island DUI or Refusal arrest has serious consequences. You may lose your Rhode Island driver’s license, experience a substantial increase in car insurance rates, pay large fines and court costs and possibly face jail time.

If you’re facing DUI charges, you need to know that someone is watching out for your best interests and making sure you take advantage of all the legal protections available to you. You need someone to help you decide whether you should challenge the results of a breath test, question the arresting officer’s testimony, challenge the basis for the motor vehicle stop, or minimize the sanctions you face to the greatest extent possible.

Unlike some DUI lawyers Attorney Friel does not merely escort you to the courtroom in order to plead guilty as charged, however instead he is dedicated to successful results and protecting your future.

Criminal and Administrative Penalties

When you take a drink and then go out and drive in Rhode Island you face getting yourself arrested and charged under this state’s Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) and/or Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test (“Refusal”) laws—that can have a devastating impact on your life.

The drunk driving laws of Rhode Island and the United States Supreme Court make it easy for you to be pulled over. Police officers are allowed to pull you over based on a “reasonable suspicion” that you are committing a crime, i.e. driving under the influence. They can pull you over and ask you questions without first having advised you of your constitutional rights. This is called an investigative detention. You have the constitutional right to refuse to answer any questions.

During and after the stop the officer is observing, listening and using his sense of smell to determine if you have consumed any alcohol or drugs which, in the officer’s opinion, made you unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. The officer is also evaluating your dexterity, sense of balance and the sound of your speech—slurring of words. If your are asked if you consumed a drink containing alcohol, the officer will more than likely ask you to get out of the vehicle to perform some tests.

The police officer’s observation of your driving, his stopping you, talking with you and testing you is all being done to establish probable cause to arrest you. Once he asks you out of the car he will have you perform the following field sobriety tests—an eye test called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the Walk And Turn Test and the One Leg Stand Test. He will give you these tests after instructing you what to do in order to determine whether or not you can do several things at the same time—a type of diverted attention test. He is trying to determine if alcohol has affected your ability to listen to instructions and then perform the tests according to those instructions.

When you are arrested he will take you to the police station and offer you a breath test. Rhode Island law says that if you drive in this state you give your implied consent to submit to a chemical by the police. Before asking you to take a test he advises you with regard to the testing procedure and what happens if you take the test or refuse to take the test. He should then gives you the opportunity to call an attorney for a confidential telephone call.

Driving Under the Influence in Rhode Island means you potentially have to appear in two separate forums:

  1. The criminal court system with jail, fines, probation and license suspension a possibility; and
  2. The Rode Island Traffic Tribunal, an administrative procedure where license suspension may occur prior to trial under certain circumstances.

Contact An Experienced Attorney To Discuss Your DUI/Refusal Case

If you would like to discuss your particular needs with Attorney Christopher E. Friel, please contact us today by calling 401-737-4200 extension 23.

View More Information

What should I do if I’m asked to take field sobriety tests?

There is a wide-range of standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs), including heel-to-toe, finger-to-nose, one-leg stand, “horizontal gaze nystagmus” test, alphabet recitation, modified position of attention (Rhomberg), fingers-to-thumb, hand pat and others. In Rhode Island, most officers will use a set battery of three common tests – the heel-to-toe, one-leg stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

Unlike the chemical test, where refusal to submit may have serious consequences, Rhode Island DUI law does not require you to take any of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). The reality is that officers have usually made up their minds to make a DUI arrest when they give the SFSTs; the tests are simply additional evidence which the suspect inevitably “fails.” Thus, in most cases a polite refusal may be appropriate and smart.

Why did the officer make me follow a penlight with my eyes to the left and right?

This is the “horizontal gaze nystagmus” test, a relatively recent development in DUI investigation. The officer attempts to estimate the angle at which the eye begins to jerk (“nystagmus” is medical jargon for a distinctive eye oscillation). If this occurs sooner than 45 degrees, it theoretically indicates a blood-alcohol concentration over .08%. The smoothness of the eyes tracking the penlight (or finger or pencil) is also a factor, as is the type of jerking when the eye is as far to the side as it can go.

This field sobriety test has proven to be subject to a number of different problems, not the least of which is the non-medically trained officer’s ability to recognize nystagmus and estimate the angle of onset. Because of this, and the fact that the test is not accepted by the medical community, it is not admissible as evidence in many states and Attorney Friel has been very successful in excluding this evidence in court.

View More Information

Implied Consent Law in Rhode Island

In accordance with Rhode Island General Laws section 31-27-2.1, any person who operates a motor vehicle within the state shall be deemed to have given his or her consent to chemical tests of his or her breath, blood, and/or urine for the purpose of determining the chemical content of his or her body fluids or breath.

Elements of the Offense

In each and every Refusal case, the burden is upon the State to prove the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:

  1. That the law enforcement officer making the sworn report had reasonable grounds to believe that the arrested person had been driving a motor vehicle within this state while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  2. That the arrested person refused to submit to the chemical tests upon the request of a law enforcement officer.
  3. That the arrested person had been informed of his or her rights in accordance with the provisions of Rhode Island law.
  4. That the arrested person had been informed of the penalties incurred as a result of the noncompliance of taking the chemical tests.

Proof by clear and convincing evidence means that the judge must believe the truth of the facts asserted by the state to be highly probable.  This is a lesser standard then the criminal burden, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but a higher standard that the burden in civil matters, proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

Penalties for Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test

The penalties for violation of the charge of Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test are as follows:

(1) Impose for the first violation a fine in the amount of two hundred dollars ($200) to five hundred dollars ($500) and shall order the person to perform ten (10) to sixty (60) hours of public community restitution. The person’s driving license in this state shall be suspended for a period of six (6) months to one year. The traffic tribunal judge shall require attendance at a special course on driving while intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance and/or alcohol or drug treatment for the individual.
(2) Every person convicted for a second violation within a five (5) year period shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, shall be imprisoned for not more than six (6) months and shall pay a fine in the amount of six hundred dollars ($600) to one thousand dollars ($1,000), order the person to perform sixty (60) to one hundred (100) hours of public community restitution, and the person’s driving license in this state shall be suspended for a period of one year to two (2) years. The judge shall require alcohol and/or drug treatment for the individual.
(3) Every person convicted for a third or subsequent violation within a five (5) year period shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be imprisoned for not more than one year, fined eight hundred dollars ($800) to one thousand dollars ($1,000), order the person to perform not less than one hundred (100) hours of public community restitution, and the person’s operator’s license in this state shall be suspended for a period of two (2) years to five (5) years. The judge shall require alcohol or drug treatment for the individual. Provided, that prior to the reinstatement of a license to a person charged with a third or subsequent violation within a three (3) year period, a hearing shall be held before a judge. At the hearing the judge shall review the person’s driving record,
his or her employment history, family background, and any other pertinent factors that would indicate that the person has demonstrated behavior which warrants the reinstatement of his or her license.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test you need to speak with an attorney well-versed in handling such matters.  Contact Attorney Christopher E. Friel to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case at 401-737-4200 x23.

View More Information

Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorney Christopher E. Friel is experienced in handling all types of misdemeanor criminal matters throughout Rhode Island’s District Courts.  Misdemeanor offenses are crimes which are punishable by up to one year in jail.  In addition to potential incarceration, if convicted of a misdemeanor, a defendant could also suffer a loss of license, be subject to a no contact order, as well as be responsible for fines and court costs.  

Representation for All Misdemeanor Criminal Matters:
  • Simple Assault and Battery
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Vandalism
  • Failure to Relinquish a Telephone
  • Operating on a Suspended/Revoked License
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
  • Shoplifting
  • Violation of a No Contact Order
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact Attorney Friel at 401-737-4200 x23 today to discuss your case.

View More Information

Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal and Municipal Court Attorney

If you have been pulled over in Rhode Island and ticketed for any motor vehicle violation, Attorney Christopher E. Friel can assist you.  Attorney Friel possesses years of experience practicing before the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal as well as the municipal courts within the State of Rhode Island.  Attorney Friel has successfully represented numerous clients on motor vehicle offenses such as the following:

Dismissal Based Upon Good Driver’s Record

Any person who has had a motor vehicle operator’s license for more than three (3) years,
and who has been issued traffic violations which are his or her first violations within the
preceding three (3) years, may request a hearing seeking a dismissal of the violations
based upon the operator’s good driving record. 

Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been issued a citation for any motor vehicle offenses, contact Attorney Christopher E. Friel today to discuss your case at (401) 737-4200 x23.

View More Information

The Colin B. Foote Act. Multiple Driving Infractions in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, being convicted of multiple driving infractions may lead to enhanced penalties pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws 31-27-24, otherwise known as the Colin B. Foote Act.  In accordance with the Act, “Every person convicted of moving violations on four (4) separate and distinct occasions within an eighteen (18) month period may be fined up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), and shall be ordered to attend sixty (60) hours of driver retraining, shall be ordered to perform sixty (60) hours of public community service, and the person’s operators license in this state may be suspended up to one year or revoked by the court for a period of up to two (2) years.” 

The moving violations that are subject to this law are as follows:

The Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal has interpreted this statute to require that the eighteen month period be measured from the date of the first conviction to the date of the fourth conviction.  Therefore, should all four convictions not take place within an eighteen month period, the enhanced penalties called for under the Colin B. Foote Act shall not apply.

Contact an Experienced Rhode Island Traffic Attorney

Should you receive a traffic violation that you cannot pay by mail, but must appear in court, you may be subject to the enhanced penalties of the Colin B. Foote Act.  Contact Attorney Christopher E. Friel for advice and representation in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal at (401) 737-4200 x23.

View More Information

Expungement or Sealing of Criminal Records

When someone has criminal charges filed against them, documents are created that can be accessed by the public. A criminal record is any criminal history compiled by state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies. By expunging or sealing a criminal record, the official information about the crime will be removed from “public view,” and with some limited exceptions, will not be available to employers.

Regardless of the outcome, it is best to have the court close the file so that it is no longer accessible to the public, including possible employers. The process which you use depends on whether you were convicted of the charge(s).

Are You Eligible To Have Your Criminal Record Expunged or Sealed?

Expungement of Criminal Records in Rhode Island

Under Rhode Island Law, if you are a “first time offender” you may be able to have your misdemeanor or felony criminal conviction expunged.  Should your Motion to Expunge be granted, the Court will order destroyed all records of your conviction, including all court records, any records in the possession of the State or local police departments, the bureau of criminal identification, and the probation department. 

Sealing of Criminal Records in Rhode Island

Any person who had been acquitted or otherwise exonerated in a criminal case, or had their criminal matter disposed of by way of a filing, may be entitled to have the court records sealed, and any records in the possession of the State or local police departments destroyed.

Contact Attorney Friel To Discuss Having Your Criminal Record Expunged or Sealed

If you would like to discuss your particular needs with Attorney Christopher E. Friel, please contact us today by calling 401-737-4200 extension 23.

View More Information

Criminal and
Administrative Penalties

When you take a drink and then go out and drive in Rhode Island you face getting yourself arrested and charged under this state’s Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) and/or Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test (“Refusal”) laws—that can have a devastating impact on your life.

The drunk driving laws of Rhode Island and the United States Supreme Court make it easy for you to be pulled over. Police officers are allowed to pull you over based on a “reasonable suspicion” that you are committing a crime, i.e. driving under the influence. They can pull you over and ask you questions without first having advised you of your constitutional rights. This is called an investigative detention. You have the constitutional right to refuse to answer any questions.

During and after the stop the officer is observing, listening and using his sense of smell to determine if you have consumed any alcohol or drugs which, in the officer’s opinion, made you unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. The officer is also evaluating your dexterity, sense of balance and the sound of your speech—slurring of words. If your are asked if you consumed a drink containing alcohol, the officer will more than likely ask you to get out of the vehicle to perform some tests.

The police officer’s observation of your driving, his stopping you, talking with you and testing you is all being done to establish probable cause to arrest you. Once he asks you out of the car he will have you perform the following field sobriety tests—an eye test called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the Walk And Turn Test and the One Leg Stand Test. He will give you these tests after instructing you what to do in order to determine whether or not you can do several things at the same time—a type of diverted attention test. He is trying to determine if alcohol has affected your ability to listen to instructions and then perform the tests according to those instructions.

When you are arrested he will take you to the police station and offer you a breath test. Rhode Island law says that if you drive in this state you give your implied consent to submit to a chemical by the police. Before asking you to take a test he advises you with regard to the testing procedure and what happens if you take the test or refuse to take the test. He should then gives you the opportunity to call an attorney for a confidential telephone call.

Driving Under the Influence in Rhode Island means you potentially have to appear in two separate forums:

  1. The criminal court system with jail, fines, probation and license suspension a possibility; and
  2. The Rode Island Traffic Tribunal, an administrative procedure where license suspension may occur prior to trial under certain circumstances.