In Rhode Island, the DUI law does not distinguish between drunk driving on a public road or street and drunk driving on private property. Unlike some of our neighboring states, there is no “public way” requirement for DUI. In Massachusetts, the prosecution is required to prove that the motorist was operating on a “public way” which has a specific definition and clearly does not include private property.
The Rhode Island DUI law provides, in part, that “Whoever drives or otherwise operates any vehicle in the state while under the influence of any intoxicating liquor, drugs, toluene, or any controlled substance as defined in chapter 28 of title 21, or any combination of these, shall be guilty.” Thus, an individual can be charged and prosecuted for driving under the influence anywhere in the State of Rhode Island, including private property.
While you can be arrested and prosecuted for drunk driving while on private property in Rhode Island, there may be significant legal problems that an experienced DUI lawyer could raise in Court. The police are entitled to make observations of impairment and drunk driving, to undertake investigations and to make arrests based on those observations. However, the police must be legally entitled to enter private property to make those observations. If they have unlawfully entered private property, their observations of drunk driving could potentially be suppressed and excluded from trial.
In conclusion, yes the police can arrest you for DUI on private property in Rhode Island (even while they cannot do the same in Massachusetts). But, if you are charged with DUI on private property you should seek the representation and guidance of an experienced Rhode Island DUI lawyer to explore and utilize any potential defenses that may be available to you.
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