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Understanding the right to physical examination following a DWI

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If you’re pulled over by an officer who has reason to believe you’re driving while intoxicated (DWI), the officer won’t charge you immediately. They might ask you to participate in roadside tests or have your blood alcohol content (BAC) measured. Refusing these tests can lead to more penalties.

When you fail the tests or your BAC result shows at least .08%, only then can the officer charge you for DWI. But the officer must also inform you that you have a right to be physically examined by a physician of your choice, per Rhode Island law.

What are the specifics of this law, and how can it help you?

Getting a second opinion

According to state law, anyone charged and arrested for DWI has the right to be examined by a physician at their own expense. It also states that the officer charging or arresting must inform the individual of this right and should allow the person to exercise their right to physical examination.

This might not sound advantageous at first glance, but this can be helpful if you believe the officer’s breathalyzer overestimates your BAC levels. It’s known that breathalyzers aren’t always accurate because of multiple factors. Seeing a physician allows you to prove that your blood alcohol level hasn’t reached .08% using a more accurate testing method, such as a blood or urine test.

Knowing your right

But just knowing that you have a right to a physical examination can be advantageous on its own. During the trial over your DWI charge, the prosecution must prove that the officer informed you of the right and that they also allowed you to choose a physician for secondary testing. You have a solid case to dismiss the charge if the prosecution can’t.

If you’re facing DWI charges and believe the charging officer didn’t allow you to exercise your right to physical examination, consider consulting a legal professional. An attorney can help review your case, communicate to the court your denied right and move to dismiss the DWI charge.