Generally, there are two types of breath tests that can be requested of you by a police officer in Rhode Island. The police can ask you to submit to a roadside breath test. The breath test on the roadside is referred to as a preliminary breath test. The police can also ask you to take a breath test back at the police station. The breath test at the police station is referred to as a chemical test.
While not typically fully or effectively explained, the roadside (or preliminary) breath test is administered prior to the investigating officer making an arrest determination. By law the preliminary breath test can only be used for establishing probable case to make an arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence. It cannot be admitted into evidence or presented to the jury in the motorists trial on a DUI charge.
Legally, you are required to submit to a preliminary breath test if requested to do so by a law enforcement officer who has reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence. If you refuse to submit to the preliminary breath test, you will be cited with the civil traffic violation “refusal to submit to a preliminary breath test.” Unlike the charge “refusal to submit to a chemical test,” the penalties for refusing to submit to a preliminary breath test are minor and do not carry a license suspension. If convicted, the Court can impose a $85 fine for refusing to submit to a preliminary breath test. This penalty is in stark contrast to the massive penalties (6-12 month license suspension, large fines) that can be imposed upon an individual convicted of refusing to submit to a chemical test.
In summary, as a motorist you are legally obligated to submit to a preliminary breath test when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer who has reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence in the State of Rhode Island. If you are requested to take a preliminary breath test and you refuse, you will be subject to an $85 fine but you will not face the likelihood of a license suspension based on this violation.
If you have further questions or you have been cited for refusal to submit to a preliminary breath test, contact Attorney Matthew Marin today for experienced and aggressive DUI representation throughout the State of Rhode Island. We are available 24/7 at 401-228-8271 or via email at [email protected]