The Impact of a Rhode Island Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Breath Test Violation on Massachusetts Residents
Under Rhode Island Law, being charged and convicted for Refusing to Submit to a Chemical Breath Test is a Civil Violation, but it still carries heavy penalties which can cause financial hardship and restrictions on a person’s ability to drive.
A Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Breath Test violation is adjudicated by the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal (RITT). At the first court appearance, the RITT may preliminarily suspend a Rhode Island motorist’s license during the pendency of a case.
Out-of-state resident or motorist
If you are an out-of-state resident or motorist, the RITT may preliminarily suspend your privilege to drive in Rhode Island during the pendency of the case. RITT has no authority or jurisdiction to suspend out-of-state licenses, but it can only suspend in-state driving privileges.
If a preliminary suspension is imposed, the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will enter a record of suspension into the national system, which places other state registries on notice of the Rhode Island suspension.
Many states, upon learning of this information, will impose a license suspension upon their licensed motorists.
Will the RMV Suspend MA Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, once the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) receives the notification of the preliminary licensed suspension ordered in Rhode Island, it will automatically suspend the Commonwealth resident’s MA license indefinitely or until his or her Rhode Island driving privilege is reinstated.
Can I Apply for a Conditional Hardship License?
In Rhode Island, if a preliminarily license suspension is imposed, the motorist may apply for a Conditional Hardship License in conjunction with the installation of an ignition interlock system.
This license allows the person to drive for a period of 12 hours per day, on designated days for designated purposes, during the pendency of a case. A hardship license is generally granted for any valid reason which shall include employment, medical appointments, job training, schooling, therapy treatments, childcare, or religious purposes.
Once a hardship license is granted, the motorist’s license is reinstated for the specified days and hours only, providing they install and maintain an ignition interlock device at their own expense.
Unfortunately, if the motorist is a resident of Massachusetts, the RMV will not reinstate the MA license simply based on the granting of a hardship license by the RITT in Rhode Island. This means that during the pendency of the case, MA motorists will continue to have both their license suspended until the Rhode Island case resolves.
What are the Penalties for First Offense Refusal?
When a motorist is convicted in RITT of Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Breath Test, he or she may incur a license suspension with absolutely no driving, or one involving an ignition interlock device. Generally, a first offense refusal, is punishable by:
- fine of $200 plus court costs
- $500 highway assessment fee
- $200 department of health fee
- 10 hours of community service
- completion of an alcohol education program
- license suspension for a minimum of 30 days (with or without limited hardship driving privilege referenced above), followed a period of driving with an ignition interlock system that ranges from six (6) months to two (2) years and/or blood and urine testing
Once a refusal case resolves with a conviction (either with a guilty plea or after trial) and punishment or sentence is imposed, the motorist must visit the RI DMV to reinstate his or her Rhode Island license or driving privileges, subject to the conditions imposed by the RITT.
Under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 90, Section 22(c), the indefinite MA license revocation for a Rhode Island refusal conviction will only be lifted upon providing the MA RMV with proof from the RI DMV that the Rhode Island driving privileges are reinstated.
Hiring an Attorney
Maneuvering through the laws of Rhode Island and Massachusetts can be confusing and challenging when it comes to license suspensions and impact of a violation in one state upon the driving privileges in another state. However, if you are a Massachusetts motorist charged with a Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Breath Test, it is important to hire an experienced lawyer to help you understand how a Rhode Island conviction may impact your driving privileges and license in the Commonwealth.
To consult with attorneys experienced with representing out-of-state motorists charged with a Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Breath Test in Rhode Island, contact the Law Office of John L. Calcagni, III today at (401) 351-5100.