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RHODE ISLAND CRIMINAL DEFENSE BLOG

Will the jury know I refused a breath test at my Rhode Island DUI trial?

Posted by Matthew Marin | Jul 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

In Rhode Island, if your DUI case heads to trial the Prosecution will not be able to tell the jury that you refused to submit to a breath test. While you can be cited for refusing to submit to a chemical test, the Rhode Island DUI law specifically prohibits the Prosecution from using this evidence against you at trial with some limited exceptions. 

While every motorist impliedly consents to submit to a chemical breath test when they operate a motor vehicle on the roads of the State of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island DUI law makes clear that there is a distinction between the prosecution of a criminal DUI charge and the prosecution of a civil chemical test refusal charge. Rhode Island General Law Section 31-27-2(c)(1) provides that “evidence that the defendant had refused to submit to the test shall not be admissible unless the defendant elects to testify.”

This means that in a trial the prosecution cannot point to the fact that the motorist refused to submit to a chemical test as a basis for proving and concluding that the motorist is guilty of driving under the influence. This general proposition is true so long as the motorist does not testify at the trial. However, if the motorist elects to testify at the DUI trial, the Prosecution is then permitted to question the motorist about why he refused to submit to the chemical test. Once that questioning has taken place, the Prosecution can then lawfully argue that the motorist's refusal to submit to the chemical test is evidence of his guilt.

If a jury asks during deliberations if the motorist had taken a breath test, the Judge must order the jury only to consider the evidence it has been presented. This can often make it a difficult decision for a motorist facing trial on a Rhode Island DUI charge. They must weigh the damage that could be done by revealing to the jury that they had been asked to take a breath test and refused it against the negative consequences that could possibly flow from the motorist not testifying in his own defense. While the jury is not supposed to hold that fact against the motorist, the jury is the sole arbiter of whether the case has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you are facing a Rhode Island DUI charge, contact Attorney Matthew Marin for experienced and knowledgable legal advice and representation.  Schedule a no obligation DUI defense strategy session to review your case options and hear how Attorney Marin can assist you with your DUI case.

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 Super Lawyers Rising Star Four Consecutive Years 2014-2017

Attorney Matthew Marin was named a Rhode Island Rising Star by Super Lawyers for 4 consecutive years from 2014 thru 2017. 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 Member of the National College for DUI Defense

Attorney Marin is a Rhode Island General Member 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.

NCDD National College for DUI Defense: Matthew Marin