Rhode Island's Drugged Driving Law

Learn about the laws and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island’s drugged driving law is located at General Laws of Rhode Island § 31-27-2. A driver may not operate a vehicle while “under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drugs, toluene, or any controlled substance,” or operates a vehicle, “with a blood presence of any scheduled controlled substance.”

Rhode Island has what is known as a per se (also known as a “zero tolerance”) prohibition against drugged driving if the driver, while driving, has any controlled substance in his or her body. That means that a driver may be arrested if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that any prohibited drug even if it’s just a trace is in the driver's body while the driver is operating the vehicle. Other than the per se/zero tolerance rule, an arrest can be triggered by a driver impaired by drugs.

What drugs are prohibited?

Rhode Island’s drugged driving law is directed at the prohibition of “drugs, toluene, or any controlled substance,” or “any scheduled controlled substance as defined within chapter 28 of title 21.” A listing of controlled substances regulated by federal law are found at the Drug Enforcement Administration website.

What happens if a driver is convicted of drug impaired driving in Rhode Island?

A driver arrested for drugged driving in Rhode Island will be charged with driving under the influence and subject to DUI penalties. A conviction for drugged driving will be considered as a prior offense for purposes of calculating punishment regardless of whether a subsequent offense is due to alcohol or drugs. Read more about Rhode Island’s DUI laws.

Do Rhode Island drivers have to submit to drug testing?

Yes, there is an implied consent rule for blood and urine testing. The refusal to take the test will not be admitted into evidence against the driver unless the driver testifies at trial.

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