DUI Penalties in Rhode Island

Rhode Island takes drunk driving charges seriously. There are laws on the books that cover drivers over 21 as well as drivers under the legal drinking age. Anyone who is facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge should consider seeking the advice of a legal professional. A local Rhode Island DUI defense attorney to help you understand your rights and legal options.

Rhode Island Drunk Driving Laws

A person may be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Rhode Island if they are operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or have a BAC of .08% or more. However, commercial drivers can be charged with a BAC of .04%, and drivers under 21 years old can be charged with a BAC of .02%.

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: BAC of .10% or more; driving under the influence with a child in the car; causing serious bodily harm or death; prior convictions

All DUI convictions in Rhode Island are subject to penalties such as community service, alcohol evaluation and treatment, and attending an alcohol education course. Some penalties depend on the number of prior convictions. The first and second convictions for a DUI are generally considered misdemeanor offenses.

  • First offense: $100 to $300 fine, 10 to 60 hours of community service, up to one year of imprisonment, license suspension from 30 to 180 days, and use of an ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Second offense within a five-year period: A minimum fine of $400; not less than 10 days to one year of imprisonment, 1 to 2 years license suspension, and use an ignition interlock device

felony offense depending on if it is based upon prior convictions, causing serious bodily injury, or death, can vary and can come with varied penalties of not less than 1 to 15 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $15,000, license suspension from two years to a permanent revocation, and possible vehicle forfeiture. A felony DUI charge is used for circumstances such as:

  • Three DUI offenses
  • Causing serious bodily injuries to another person
  • Causing the death of another person

Penalties for Refusing a BAC Test

As a requirement for driving on the roads in Rhode Island, you have given implied consent for chemical testing if you are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. For drivers who refuse to submit to a chemical test, the fines and fees increase with the number of offenses.

For a first-offense refusal, a driver can face fines between $200 and $500, be required to complete 10 to 60 hours of community service, license suspension of six months to one year, and pay a $200 fee to the Rhode Island Department of Health’s chemical testing programs. For habitual offenders within five years, there could be a license suspension between 2 and 5 years and additional penalties.

The drunk driving penalties in Rhode Island are severe. You can avoid a criminal conviction if you successfully challenge your DUI charges. An experienced Rhode Island DUI defense lawyer understands how to challenge the officer’s justification for making a traffic stop, the reliability of the chemical testing, and other constitutional rights violations. In some cases, your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the DUI penalties.

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