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Rhode Island Attorney

The Refusal Arraignment

The Refusal Arraignment

The Refusal Arraignment is far different from the DUI Arraignment.  Perhaps the most important distinction is that a first offense Refusal charge is a traffic ticket, not a criminal charge.  Therefore, jurisdiction is in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.

Assuming that the driver does not admit guilt at the Refusal Arraignment, the main concern at this point is the administrative suspension of the driver’s license until a trial on the merits is held.  Under Rhode Island law, the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal must suspend the driver’s license at the Refusal Arraignment and order that the license be surrendered within five (5) days if the prosecution can establish that the:

(1)  Police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the arrested driver operated his vehicle under the influence,

(2)  Police officer informed the driver of the penalties for refusing to submit to the Breath Test, and

(3) Driver refused to submit to the Breath Test at the police officer’s request.

The preliminary administrative suspension of the driver’s license is a tremendously powerful tool the prosecution uses.  Most police departments are sophisticated enough to establish reasonable suspicion in the paperwork provided to the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.  As a result, the overwhelming majority of drivers charged with a Refusal of a Breath Test have their license suspended at the Refusal Arraignment.  Naturally, this places the driver at a tremendous disadvantage in both the Refusal charge and the DUI charge.