JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Michael Sabitoni, a powerful Rhode Island labor leader, was arrested over the weekend and charged with driving under the influence.

Booking photo courtesy of RI State Police

The R.I. State Police say Sabitoni, 55, was pulled over on Route 6 in Johnston at 12:07 a.m. on Sunday. He was charged with DUI and refusing a chemical test and transported to State Police headquarters.

Sabitoni was allegedly driving 81 miles per hour in a 55 zone, according to records at the R.I. Traffic Tribunal.

He’s also facing a citation for speeding.

Sabitoni is the president of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, an influential labor union with deep roots in Rhode Island Democratic politics.

The union most recently spent $100,000 on a television ad in support of Gov. Dan McKee’s campaign, which is currently airing and features Sabitoni endorsing the incumbent governor.

Sabitoni did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday, and a spokesperson for the building trades council declined to comment on the arrest or whether the TV spot would be pulled or modified.

Alana O’Hare, a spokesperson for the McKee campaign, also declined to comment on the TV ad.

“This is a private matter and it’s unrelated to the campaign,” O’Hare said.

An arrest report released Thursday says Sabitoni was initially pulled over for speeding, and the state trooper then smelled alcohol coming from the vehicle.

The trooper said he asked Sabitoni if he had anything to drink, and Sabitoni said he had “one glass of wine and one beer.”

The report says Sabitoni failed several field sobriety tests, including being unable to walk in a straight line.

Sabitoni refused a chemical test and was processed, arraigned by a justice of the peace and “released into the custody of a responsible adult,” according to police.

He’s due in court on July 26.

Steph Machado ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Eli Sherman contributed to this report.