via on May 10, 2012

R.I. high court: Designated drivers aren’t responsible

for drunken friends

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Designated drivers aren’t liable for their drunken friends’ actions after they’ve dropped them off, the state Supreme Court ruled in a decision released Thursday.

The family of a man killed by a drunk driver in 2005 wanted to sue the driver’s friend, who dropped the driver off at his car after a night of partying. They argued he should have driven the friend home instead.

But the Supreme Court said setting that level of liability for designated drivers was the legislature’s call, not the court’s.

“To impose such a duty in this case would amount to the creation of a new cause of action — an election that must be effected, if at all, by the legislature,” the opinion read.

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If you need assistance or would like a free consultation with Attorney Stefanie A. Murphy, please call 401-316-9423 or email at

For more information on the Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy, please visit our website at

Recent Case Victory

May 16, 2012

The Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy announces a recent case result:

– Client charged with Second Offense DUI .15 or greater, driving on a suspended license and traffic offenses.  Client was facing a six to twelve month mandatory jail term.

– Attorney Stefanie Murphy met several times with the arresting police department and worked out the following disposition: The Second Offense DUI was amended to reckless driving and the suspended license charge was dismissed.


If you need assistance or would like a free consultation with Attorney Stefanie A. Murphy, please call 401-316-9423 or email at

For more information on the Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy, please visit our website at

 April and May 2012
– Attorney Murphy lectures to two local police departments about fourth amendment search and seizure, DUI and report writing.
– A client of the Law Offices of Stefanie Murphy was charged with DUI .15 or greater.  This charge was dismissed and the client was recharged with reckless driving.  On the day of trial, the reckless driving charge was DISMISSED!

– Stefanie Murphy was able to successfully resolve a case for a client that was charged with four moving violations within 18 months.

– Attorney Murphy represented a client charged with second offense refusal to take breathalyzer test and first offense DUI.  The charges were amended to reckless driving.

– A client of the Law Offices of Stefanie Murphy was charged with assault on a minor.  After numerous pre-trial conferences, Attorney Murphy was able to get the charges DISMISSED!

– Attorney Murphy represented a  client charged with DUI with readings of about twice the legal limit.  Through Attorney Murphy’s representation, the charges were amended to reckless driving with no license suspension and all of the traffic court charges were DISMISSED!

– Attorney Murphy successfully resolved the case for a client charged with three moving violations within 18 months resulting in no loss of license.

If you need assistance or would like a free consultation with Attorney Stefanie A. Murphy, please call 401-316-9423 or email at

For more information on the Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy, please visit our website at

Top places in RI for DUI arrests


WRITTEN BY: Dee DeQuattro | WPRO News

Updated: 5/7/2012 10:10:21 AM

After the notable drunk driving arrests of Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio and Congressman David Cicilline’s brother John Cicilline, Tara Granahan of the WPRO Morning News uncovered some statistics from the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office revealing the top places for DUI arrests.

Assistant Attorney General Jay Sullivan said the arrests really vary on the size of the police department, its level of funding and its location.

According to the statistics from 2010, the most DUI or chemical test refusal arrests are made by the RI State Police. The department made 449 arrests in 2010. Warwick is in second place for DUI and refusal arrests, and is the top city for DUI arrests, having made 328 in 2010. Woonsocket comes in third, trailing Warwick, with only 167 in 2010. Coventry takes the fourth place spot with 159 arrests in 2010 and Cranston is close behind with 148 DUI arrests. Notably absent from the top five list is the state’s capital city, Providence.

Bristol Police Department, where John  Cicilline was recently arrested, only had 75 DUI arrests in 2010 and Barrington where Senator Ruggerio was arrested, only had 27. Block Island and Scituate led the way with the fewest DUI arrests having only 5 each in 2010.

Gabbe Abbate from Rhode Island Mothers Against Drunk Driving said she is not surprised by the top five places for DUI arrests. She said that State Police’s main focus is highway safety so there is no surprise that they make so many arrests. She also said Warwick has placed a particular emphasis on keeping the streets safe by cracking down on drunk driving.

Abate said the bigger concern is how many people actually get away with driving under the influence. “The average drunk driver will drive 87 times before they ever get stopped,” Abbate told the WPRO Morning News with Tara Granahan and Andrew Gobeil. Abbate also noticed that Rhode Island has a high rate of people refusing to submit to the chemical test compared to people who do take the test and are charged with drunk driving.


======= LC01074 =======

2012 — S 2524



JANUARY SESSION, A.D. 2012 ____________


page1image1748 page1image1832 page1image1916


Introduced By: Senators Metts, Pichardo, Perry, Jabour, and Crowley Date Introduced: February 16, 2012
Referred To: Senate Judiciary

It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 12-1.3-1 of the General Laws in Chapter 12-1.3 entitled

“Expungement of Criminal Records” is hereby amended to read as follows:
12-1.3-1. Definitions. — For purposes of this chapter only, the following definitions

(1) “Crime of violence” includes murder, manslaughter, first degree arson, kidnapping

with intent to extort, robbery, larceny from the person, first degree sexual assault, second degree sexual assault, first and second degree child molestation, assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to rob, assault with intent to commit first degree sexual assault, burglary, and entering a dwelling house with intent to commit murder, robbery, sexual assault, or larceny.

(2) “Expungement of records and records of conviction” means the sealing and retention of all records of a conviction and/or probation and the removal from active files of all records and information relating to conviction and/or probation.

(3) “First offender” means a person who has been convicted of a felony offense or a misdemeanor offense, and who has not been previously convicted of or placed on probation for a felony or a misdemeanor , or a person who has been convicted of not more than two (2) misdemeanor offenses, and who has not been previously convicted of or placed on probation for a felony and against whom there is no criminal proceeding pending in any court.

(4) “Law enforcement agency” means a state police organization of this or any other state, the enforcement division of the department of environmental management, the office of thE state fire marshal, the capitol police, a law enforcement agency of the federal government, and any agency, department, or bureau of the United States government which has as one of it functions the gathering of intelligence data

 (5) “Records” and “records of conviction and/or probation” include all court records, all records in the possession of any state or local police department, the bureau of criminal identification and the probation department, including, but not limited to, any fingerprints, photographs, physical measurements, or other records of identification. The terms “records” and “records of conviction, and/or probation” do not include the records and files of the department of attorney general which are not kept by the bureau of criminal identification in the ordinary course of the bureau’s business?

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.

  1. ======= LC01074 ======== 




This act would permit certain individuals with a record of two misdemeanor convictions 
to still be eligible for expungement of those records by redefining the term “first time offender.” This act would take effect upon passage. 


Posted March 12, 2012

BARRINGTON — Barrington Police Chief John LaCross remembers the night a drunk driver nearly slammed straight into his car.

It was a few years ago at about 8:30 p.m. and the chief was driving south on County Road. Also inside the car were the chief’s wife and their daughter. They were passing by the Prince’s Hill shopping plaza when a northbound car swerved over the double-yellow lines and rolled directly toward Chief LaCross and his family.

“I laid on the horn,” said the chief. “He was coming right at us.”

Startled by the blaring horn, the other driver swerved back into the northbound lane and then continued into the curb. He motored down County Road while the chief called the department and alerted officers to the other vehicle. A short while later, police charged that motorist with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The police department regularly makes DUI arrests in Barrington but 2011 saw a significant increase — an 89 percent increase. Barrington police made 28 drunk driving arrests in 2010 and 50 in 2011.

Chief LaCross credited the vigilance of his officers for the increased arrest rate. He said two of the department’s younger patrolmen — Officers Walter Larson and Josh Melo — have been very proactive during their late-night shifts.

“Some of it is observation. Some of the newer guys have the training fresh in their minds,” Chief LaCross said, adding that Officer Melo recently completed training as a drug recognition expert.

The Barrington Police Department has also benefited from grant money for increased drunk driving patrols and from coordinated efforts with the Rhode Island State Police and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

The trend of increased DUI arrests in Barrington appears to be continuing into 2012. In a typical week in early February, local police made two drunk driving arrests, and during the first weekend in March officers charged another three people with DUI. Those arrests included two individuals from outside of Barrington.

Chief LaCross said most of the arrests are made after stops for speeding motorists or following car accidents.

Conviction rate

Making a DUI arrest is only part of the process for local police; following through with a conviction in court after the arrest is crucial also, said the chief.

“The large majority (of people stopped and later charged with DUI) do not blow into the breathalyzer. You have to base your case on observation,” Chief LaCross said.

“We double-charge (with refusal to submit to a chemical test) like most departments in this state. If they plead out, the other charge is dropped, usually.”

That approach, he said, has led to a 96 percent conviction rate — the suspect is either convicted in district court on the DUI charge or in traffic court on the refusal to submit charge.

Chief LaCross said the “deck is stacked against” local police throughout the drunk driving arrest process.

“It can get frustrating for officers, but at least they’re pulling a drunk driver off the road that night,” he said.

“If you can stop somebody, you don’t know if you just saved a life.”

Three more DUI arrests last week

• At approximately 7:57 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, police were notified of a possibly intoxicated driver traveling south on Wampanoag Trail. Poice caught up with the vehicle, reportedly a green Dodge Ram pick-up truck, on Lincoln Avenue. The vehicle was reportedly observed crossing over the fog line while making a left turn onto Washington Road before making another wide right on Alfred Drowne Road. The driver, identified as Robert W. Collington, 56, of 166 Main St., Cranston, reportedly told police he was going to see his girlfriend on Third Street. He allegedly had slurred speech and said he had consumed a couple of beers. Mr. Collington reportedly consented to a breathalyzer, registering a .176 percent and .188 percent, both more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent. He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs first offense .15 or greater.

• At approximately 6:26 p.m. on Friday, March 9, police received a report of an erratic operator driving a white Ford Explorer on Wampanoag Trail. Police stopped the vehicle on County Road near the Barrington Early Learning Center. The driver of the vehicle, Layne C. Savage, 31, of 49 St. Elizabeth St., Apt. 2, Bristol, allegedly had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Ms. Savage reportedly did not perform field sobriety tests or take a breathalyzer. Police reportedly found partially empty wine containers in the vehicle along with partially empty liquor containers. She was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs-first offense, refusal to submit to a chemical test and driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license.

• Police working a radar post reportedly pulled over a black Honda driven by Timothy E. Smith, 34, of 42 Market St., first floor, Warren, at the intersection of Wampanoag Trail and Primrose Hill Road at about 3:29 a.m. on Sunday, March 11. Mr. Smith allegedly had bloodshot eyes and opened the vehicle’s door instead of its windows when approached by police. A strong smell of alcohol was reportedly detected coming from the vehicle and Mr. Smith allegedly told police he was coming from a bar in Providence and had consumed five beers. He reportedly failed field sobriety tests and was charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol-second offense within five years, driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license, laned roadway violations and refusal to submit to a chemical test-second offense.


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Posted on 3/12/12

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Rhode Island state police say traffic enforcement efforts from the weekend resulted in multiple arrests and citations.

Col. Steven O’Donnell said Monday that 13 people were charged with driving while intoxicated. He also says 607 traffic tickets were issued, including 126 citations for seatbelt violations.

O’Donnell says the arrests and citations took place between Friday and Sunday. He says motorists should not drive while impaired or intoxicated and that drivers and passengers must wear seatbelts.

Police are asking the public to report dangerous drivers or hazardous road conditions to authorities by dialing 911 or (asterisk)77 on a cell phone.

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