RI State Police charges a tractor-trailer truck driver with DUI

Colonel James M. Manni, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety, announces the arrest of a tractor-trailer truck driver on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs on Interstate 95 in West Greenwich last night.

Matthew W. Gallagher, age 36, of 73A Tremont St., Rehoboth, MA, was charged with:

  • Driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, first offense, blood-alcohol content unknown
  • Refusal to submit to a chemical test

He was held overnight at the Hope Valley Barracks, pending arraignment in Third Division District Court.

Mr. Gallagher was arrested at approximately 11:30 p.m. last night after troopers received numerous 911 calls reporting a tractor-trailer truck being operated erratically on the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 in West Greenwich. Troopers responded immediately and spotted the truck allegedly swerve across the travel and breakdown lanes, nearly striking one vehicle on the road and another in the breakdown lane before they were able to stop it south of Weaver Hill Road.

The operator, identified as Mr. Gallagher, a driver for Gordon Food Service, was arrested and the truck was towed. He was held overnight at the Hope Valley Barracks, pending arraignment in Third Division District Court.

In addition to the criminal charges, Mr. Gallagher also was issued citations for laned roadway violations and no seatbelt – operator.

“This arrest is very concerning to us, given the risks posed by any tractor-trailer truck being driven in an erratic and unsafe manner,” Colonel Manni said.  “Fortunately, most truck drivers operate in a responsible manner. However, we want to make it clear that we will not tolerate anyone operating any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs – especially those operating commercial vehicles, which present a tremendous risk to other motorists given the size and weight of those vehicles.”

Drivers of commercial vehicles are held to a much higher standard than other motorists, Colonel Manni noted. They require more knowledge experience and skills than other drivers and must undergo extensive written exams and road tests before earning a commercial driver’s license, or CDL. Once they obtain a CDL, commercial operators must abide by strict laws and regulations when operating any motor vehicle on public roads. Serious traffic violations can impact their ability to maintain CDL certification.

Traffic laws and violations are also stricter for CDL operators than equivalent laws for other motorists, especially when it comes to DUI. In Rhode Island, anyone with a commercial driver’s license found to be operating a commercial vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of .04 percent or greater is considered guilty of operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while the law requires a BAC of .08 or greater for other motorists. If convicted of refusing to take a chemical test, on a first offense a CDL holder is disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle for a period of one year.

Colonel Manni also encouraged anyone who sees a suspected intoxicated driver or anyone operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner to call 911. “We all need to work together to keep our roadways safe.”