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I was on private property when I was arrested for DUI. Can the police do that?

Posted by Matthew Marin | Oct 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

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.

About the Author

Matthew Marin

My name is Attorney Matthew Marin. I have dedicated my career to defending those charged with criminal offenses throughout Rhode Island. If you have been arrested or are under investigation for a criminal offense, we understand that are likely in an unfamiliar situation that can be extremely intimidating and even paralyzing. You may feel as if you do not know where to turn or who to ask for help. Fortunately, you have come to the right place to begin your search for answers and a successful resolution to your situation. We have extensive experience assisting thousands of clients facing drunk driving charges, domestic violence charges, and drug charges throughout Rhode Island.


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Attorney Marin Named A SuperLawyer for Eight Consecutive Years 2014-2021

Attorney Matthew Marin has been named a Rhode Island SuperLawyer for 9 consecutive years from 2014 thru 2022. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in Rhode Island are selected by the Research Team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Super Lawyers selects lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement in their practice area.

Rhode Island Members of the National College for DUI Defense

Attorneys Marin and Barrett are both Rhode Island General Members of the National College for DUI Defense. Members represent some of the most experienced and cutting edge DUI defense attorney's throughout the Country. Nationwide, DUI laws are extremely complex and constantly changing and the College facilitates the exchange of innovative defenses throughout the Country.