Prior to 2017, motorists convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or a Chemical Test Refusal would face lengthy license suspensions. Then, in 2017, Rhode Island allowed motorists to drive after a DUI with a hardship license and/or with the installation of an ignition interlock device. However, these instances were limited to those motorists who were found to be operating under the influence of alcohol, as an ignition interlock device can only detect the presence of alcohol, not drugs in one’s system. For years, legislators sought to extend interlocks and hardship licenses to those convicted of DUI with drugs in RI. Now, in 2021, legislators found a solution: imposing blood and/or urine drug testing for those convicted of a DUI with drugs or a Chemical Test Refusal involving drugs. Read below to find more about the requirements for drug testing in these instances.
Who can be ordered to drug testing for a DUI in RI?
A sentencing judge or magistrate in RI can impose blood and/or urine blood testing if:
- a motorist seeks a hardship license for a DUI or Chemical Test refusal involving drugs (not alcohol)
- a motorist is convicted of a DUI with drugs or a Chemical Test Refusal involving drugs
A judge or magistrate can also order both drug testing and an ignition interlock device if there is evidence that the motorist was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Alternatively, a judge or magistrate can waive the ignition interlock requirement and require only drug testing if there is no evidence of alcohol impairment and only drug impairment.
Can drug testing be during a preliminary license suspension?
Yes, drug testing can be ordered by a magistrate or judge for those who seek a hardship license while under a preliminary order of suspension for a Chemical Test Refusal under 31-27-2.1(b)(1) and 31-27-2.1(b)(2).
What evidence is used to determine if someone needs drug testing as part of a DUI or Refusal sentence in RI?
In many cases, motorists seeking a hardship license and/or ignition interlock device may not yet be convicted of a DUI or refusal or may be pleading to such charges without an evidentiary hearing/trial. For these reasons, judges and magistrates may be permitted to review police reports for the following to determine whether to impose drug testing with or without an ignition interlock device:
- the presence of controlled substances on or about the person or vehicle
- other indicia of controlled substance: odor, admission to using, etc.
- preliminary breath tests
- results from a breathalyzer
Who performs the drug testing ordered by the court for a DUI/Refusal with Drugs in RI?
The law requires that the following perform the blood/urine drug testing:
- licensed physician with knowledge and clinical experience in the diagnosis and treatment of drug-related disorders
- licensed or certified psychologist
- social worker
- EAP professional with like knowledge
- substance abuse counselor certified by the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
Who pays for the drug testing?
The motorist is required to pay for any cost associated with the substance abuse professional and any fee required for testing, retesting, monitoring, and reporting the results of said tests.
How often are DUI drug tests required?
Drug testing by blood or urine must be collected weekly during the first sixty (60) days of the court order. After the initial sixty (60) days, it is at the discretion of the substance abuse professional and can be ordered randomly. If the motorist is required to submit to random samples, they will have twenty-four (24) hours to comply with the testing request.
Where are the drug test results reported?
The substance abuse professional is required to report to the Office of the Attorney General. This includes any failure to comply with a request for a sample and positive drug test results. The Office of the Attorney General may at any time request copies of any or all test results and the substance abuse professional will have forty-eight (48) hours to comply.
Upon completion of the testing period (based on completion of suspension, interlock or hardship time), a finalized report shall also be presented to the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles. Presumably, until it is received, the motorist will not be able to reinstate their license and/or remove the restriction.
What happens if a motorist fails a required drug test?
If a judge or magistrate determines that a motorist either failed to comply with a sample request or tested positive for any controlled substance, he or she may:
- exercise his or her discretion and revoke the conditional hardship license
- extend the time period for the ignition interlock system and/or substance abuse testing for an additional period of up to twelve (12) months
- impose an additional loss of license for up to twenty-four (24) months
If a motorist fails a test or refuses to submit to a sample for a second time within twelve (12) months of the first failure they can be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year imprisonment, or a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.
When is a motorists finished with their drug testing?
A motorist will be relieved of their testing requirement upon completion of the court ordered license suspension and/or hardship/ignition interlock period.
If you are facing a DUI or Chemical Test Refusal in Rhode Island, call the experienced RI DUI defense attorneys at Abilheira Law today. Our attorneys stay on top of the ever-changing DUI laws and have the skills to get you the best possible resolution in your case.
Don’t hesitate. Call us today. Our DUI lawyers in Providence are available 24/7 to take your call at 401-245-5100.