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Rhode Island DUI Laws: The Complete Guide

Rhode Island DUI Laws: The Complete Guide

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No matter where you live, DUIs come with strict penalties. Rhode Island DUI laws are no exception to the rule. If you find yourself facing a DUI charge, there are a few things you should know. Understanding the process can make the situation much less intimidating. And it may even help you find a lawyer with experience who is capable of representing you. Here’s everything that you need to know about Rhode Island DUI laws.

What is a DUI according to Rhode Island DUI laws?

DUI laws vary from state to state, but they all have the same basic definition. When you drive under the influence, you could get a DUI charge. An officer can pull you over if he suspects impaired driving. If you have a blood alcohol content of .08 or more, an officer can charge you with a DUI.

If an officer charges you, you have a chance to prove your case in court. Until you have a fair trial, the court considers you to be innocent. After your court appearance, a judge can declare your innocence or guilt and deliver your sentence.

The Penalties for DUIs in Rhode Island

Many people assume that a DUI automatically means jail time. However, this isn’t the case. If you have no other DUI convictions and your incident occurred without any injury to a person, jail time is unlikely. Your first DUI offense is only a misdemeanor. As a result, the most you can receive is one year of jail time. Oftentimes, the penalty involves no jail time. Other penalties can include fines, treatment options, and community service.

What does a judge consider during sentencing?

There’s no definite way to say what your penalty will be according to Rhode Island DUI laws. While there are maximum restrictions to your sentence, the maximum sentence isn’t always issued. To determine your penalty, a judge looks at the specifics of your case. Here are a few things that could impact your penalty:

  • The specific details of your case
  • Whether it was your first offense
  • Whether you were underage
  • Your BAC at the time of arrest
  • Whether anyone had an injury during the accident
  • A judge’s policies and stance on DUIs
  • The skill and experience of both attorneys
  • Your own criminal record
  • Any police errors during the arrest

The Specifics

All people guilty of Rhode Island DUIs may be subject to a jail sentence, fines, community service, a safe driving course, license suspension, and a jail sentence. But the severity of the penalty varies. Relying on how many penalties you have and your BAC level, Rhode Island DUI laws outline the penalties. It’s important to note that you do have a right to decline the breathalyzer at the time of arrest. If you do, the court will suspend your license. However, this could be better than having a high BAC level. The higher the level, the more severe your penalty.

1. First-Time Offenders

First-time offenders with a BAC within the .08 and .10 range can face the following consequences:

  • as much as one year in jail
  • a license suspension (30 days to 180 days)
  • fines that equal about $800
  • between 10 and 60 hours of community service
  • enrollment in driving school
  • enrollment in an alcohol treatment center

With a BAC of over .15, you may face the following penalties:

  • as much as one year in jail
  • a suspended license for between three and 12 months
  • Fines of about $1200
  • Between 20 and 60 hours of community service
  • Enrollment in a driving school or alcohol treatment center

If the arresting officers fail to get your BAC, the penalties are the following:

  • As much as one year in jail
  • Suspended license of three to 12 months
  • Fines of about $800
  • Between 10 and 60 hours of community service
  • Enrollment in a driving school
  • Enrollment in an alcohol treatment center

2. Second DUI Offenses

If you have a prior DUI conviction on your record, your penalties will be more severe. A prior conviction within the last five years and demands jail time. Offenders with a BAC between .08 and .15 can face the following penalties:

  • Minimum of 10 days in jail, maximum of one year
  • Suspended license for one to two years
  • Alcohol or drug treatment
  • FInes of over $1200

If your BAC is over .15, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is six months. The fines can total over $1,750.

3. Other Offenses

If you have two prior DUIs, your penalties are more serious. There are also other scenarios that can result in harsher penalties. For example, an underage DUI driver faces fines, community service, a suspended license, and more. Likewise, a commercial truck driver is held to higher standards. For truck drivers, the BAC is .04. The minimum license suspension for a first-time offense is one year. Second-time offenders face a suspension of ten years to a lifetime.

Dealing with Your DUI

If an officer suspects you of drinking and driving, there are a few things you should do. Avoid taking the breathalyzer and field sobriety test. Be respectful of the officer. Finally, call your RI DUI defense lawyer for help. He can give you advice on how to handle the situation.

About The Author
S. Joshua Macktaz
Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorney and top DUI Lawyer S. Joshua Macktaz, Esq. has offices in Cranson, Providence, Newport, Warwick, Narragansett and North Smithfield Rhode Island. S. Joshua Macktaz, Esq. has 28 plus years of experience defending criminal offenses in RI and has represented clients in every Rhode Island court.  When you hire Criminal Lawyer S. Joshua Macktaz, Esq. to defend ...read more


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