Ruggerio charged with operating under the influence
Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio was arrested in Barrington early Wednesday and charged with operating under the influence, RIPR has confirmed.
The arrest is the latest in a string of legal problems for Rhode Island lawmakers that erupted last year.
Ruggerio, 63, an official with the New England Laborers Union, moved up to become majority leader in 2010. The North Providence senator is one of the longest-serving members of the General Assembly. He’s served in the Senate since 1985 and was a state rep from 1981-84.
According to Barrington police, a 911 call was received by the department at about 12:09 am today, reporting an erratic driver on Wampanoag Trail.
A narrative in the police report by a responding officer, Walter Larson, says Larson saw the vehicle slowly change lanes from the travel lane to the passing lane. After the officer activated his lights, the report says, “the vehicle did not stop and soon approached the stop light located on County Rd. by the Citizen’s Bank.”
The report says the vehicle turned around and traveled east on County Road, back toward the center of Barrington. After turning right on Richmond Avenue, Larson says he turned on his lights and siren, and the car “stopped in the middle of the road, not pulling over to the side.”
The officer making the stop writes he “could smell a strong odor of consumed alcohol” on a driver identified as Ruggerio. “He had bloodshot watery eyes, a flushed red face and heavily slurred speech. The driver fumbled with the plastic cover which held his license a couple of times before retrieving it and handing it to me.”
The officer writes that Ruggerio told him “he was following his friend to a woman’s house . . . I asked where he was coming from; he said he was coming back from a benefit in Providence.”
The report says Frank Ciccone, a fellow senator and labor official, emerged from a separate car.
The narrative says Ruggerio failed a series of field sobriety tests. Later,Larson writes, after the lawmaker was unable to reach “any of his lawyers,” Ruggerio “respectfully informed me he did not want to sign any papers or take any tests until his consulted his lawyer first.” The lawmaker was charged with refusal as a result.
Larson adds, “Ruggerio was polite, cooperative and apologetic while processing him.” He was permitted to leave the police station at about 3:37 am.
The police report says Ruggerio was given a date for a District Court appearance on April 4, and a separate Traffic Tribunal appearance on April 9.
Ruggerio didn’t return a call seeking comment from RIPR.