DUI in Rhode Island

What is a DUI in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island a DUI is a traffic infraction that refers to the offense of drunk driving or the use of drugs while operating a vehicle within the state. According to RI Gen L § 31-27-2, any individual who operates or drives any vehicle while being under the influence of any inebriating liquid, drugs, or other controlled substances as described in RI Gen L § 21-28, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

A Rhode Island DUI conviction attracts so many repercussions. However, the exact penalties a guilty party faces for a DUI crime is dependent on lots of different factors, two of which are the number of previous DUI convictions the violator has and the severity of the infraction. Rhode Island makes it illegal to drive or operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher. In addition, driving or operating a vehicle with any detectable amount of drugs or other controlled substances may lead to the driver’s arrest, a DUI charge, and further prosecution at the Rhode Island court. Records of DUI offenses are typically included in Rhode Island criminal records.

Law enforcement officers mainly check the alcohol content levels of drivers through breath tests, using breathalyzers. At the same time, blood tests check for the presence of drugs in a motorist. With the supervision of a police officer, a medical officer carries out blood tests by drawing out blood samples and sending them to the laboratory for analysis. Meanwhile, a suspect might decide not to submit to the test.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, DUI means driving under the influence, while DWI means driving while impaired. The differences between the two are the blood alcohol concentration level and the age limit of the vehicle operators. A driver may only get a DUI charge if the party is above 21 and has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. On the other hand, a motorist is guilty of DWI violation if the individual is between 18 and 21 and has a blood alcohol concentration level of about 0.02% to 0.08%.

Rhode Island DUI Laws

Rhode Island law describes driving under the influence (DUI) as operating a vehicle:

  • With a 0.08% or higher blood alcohol content (BAC) (.04% or higher if the vehicle is a commercial vehicle)
  • While “under the influence” of any intoxicating liquid, drug, or controlled substance

A driver’s blood alcohol concentration level and drug content in the blood system determines which penalty category accompanies the DUI conviction. The case’s facts help the judge dole out a verdict within the limits of the applicable classification.

The category “first offense DUI BAC unknown” is relevant in a case where a person suspected of driving or operating a vehicle while under the influence of liquor or drugs refuses to submit to chemical testing. An additional charge of Refusal to Submit to Chemical Testing usually follows, which is a serious offense in the state. Upon conviction, the punishment includes payment of fines and court fees, possible loss of license, compulsory completion of DUI School, and/or a substance abuse treatment program.

The Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal has jurisdiction over civil traffic violations, including chemical testing refusals in Rhode Island. At the same time, the District Court handles DUI cases that proceed to trial.

DUI Penalties in Rhode Island

The penalties for driving under the influence of liquor or drugs in Rhode Island are harsh. A guilty party potentially faces penalties in the form of fines, prolonged license suspension, community service, and possibly some quality time at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institutions. As with any other criminal charge, a person is innocent of a DUI charge unless the court proves the motorist guilty or the defendant enters a guilty plea or a plea of no contest.

An individual with no previous DUI conviction and who has not injured another person while committing the DUI offense is not likely to spend time in a prison cell if convicted. However, some circumstances in a DUI case may make a first DUI offender land in prison. If an adult commits a DUI offense, and the party had a minor in the vehicle during the crime, the individual gets a prison term of one year.

DUI Resulting in Death

A vehicle operator facing a first DUI conviction that caused the death of another person should expect an incarceration period of five to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000 and not less than $5,000. A second or subsequent offense within five years of the first offense attracts a prison term of ten to 20 years and fines ranging between $10,000 and $20,000. For all cases of death from DUI, courts order the suspension of offenders’ driver’s licenses for five years.

DUI Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury

Suppose the court convicts a driver of a first DUI violation for causing serious bodily injury to another individual; in that case, the offender faces one to ten years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000. The violator also gets a driver’s license suspension for up to two years. If the perpetrator commits the offense again within five years after the first offense, the offender faces a prison sentence of two to 15 years and a fine of $3,000 to $10,000 in addition to a four-year driver’s license suspension.

What Happens When You Get a DWI in Rhode Island?

The penalties for driving while impaired in Rhode Island include:

  • First Offense: A maximum fine of $250, community service of up to 30 hours, and 30 to 90 days license suspension. In addition, the judge may mandate attendance at a DUI school or treatment.
  • Second Offense: A fine up to $250, community service of up to 60 hours, $300 highway evaluation fee, 90 to 180 days license suspension, DUI school, and treatment.

What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time in Rhode Island?

According to RI Gen L § 31-27-2, if a law enforcement officer arrests a driver for a DUI offense for the first time, the party faces several penalties if a conviction occurs. For instance, a first-time offender with a blood alcohol concentration between 0.08% to 0.10% is subject to ten to 60 hours of community service, fines between $100 to $300, one-year imprisonment, and a special driving course.

Meanwhile, a motorist’s debut DUI offense with a blood alcohol concentration in the range of 0.10 to 0.15% attracts fines between $100 to $400, three to 12 months jail time, compulsory attendance in a court-approved counseling program, and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock system.

For persons who refuse breath or blood tests for the first time, the accompanying punishments include one year imprisonment, 12 months license suspension, 10 to 60 hours community service, a fine between $100 to $400, and enrollment in a driving school or alcohol treatment program.

Furthermore, a defendant with a blood alcohol concentration higher than 0.15% or a person arrested for drug impairment is liable to three to 12 months license suspension, fines of $500, 20 to 60 hours community service, one-year detention, and attendance at a DUI school and/or an alcohol treatment program.

What is the Penalty for a Second DUI in Rhode Island?

A motorist becomes guilty of a second DUI infraction if the party commits another DUI violation within five years of the first offense. A charge is not enough to be a second DUI until a conviction takes place. When penalizing a second DUI offender, the court takes the offender’s blood alcohol concentration into cognizance. Nevertheless, perpetrators may choose home imprisonment instead of correctional institutions for their prison sentences. Upon prosecution, offenders with blood alcohol concentration higher or equal to 0.08% but under 0.15% face:

  • Ten days to one year incarceration period
  • 12 to 24 months license suspension
  • Compulsory alcohol and/or drug treatment
  • Fine of $400
  • Ignition interlock installation

While the court punishes a second time DUI offender with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% or higher with:

  • Six months to a one-year prison sentence
  • License suspension for two years
  • Compulsory alcohol and/or drug treatment
  • $1,000 fine
  • Ignition interlock installation

What Happens After a Third DUI in Rhode Island?

A third DUI charge equals more severe penalties than a second conviction. The preceding two offenses must have occurred within five years for a DUI charge to be classified as a third one. A third DUI is a felony, and the Superior Court punishes the offender. Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration greater or equal to 0.08% but less than 0.15% should expect punishments such as compulsory prison term (one year to three years), license suspension (two to three years), mandatory alcohol and/or drug treatment, and fine of $400.

A third time DUI offender with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% higher stays in prison between three to five years, get a license suspension for up to three years, attends obligatory alcohol and/or drug treatment, installs an ignition interlock, and pay fines in the range of $1,000 to $5,000.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, a DUI conviction stays on a motorist’s driving record for a minimum of five years. The five-year waiting period is also a requirement for a misdemeanor expungement. For a felony DUI charge, the minimum waiting period is ten years. However, consideration for expungement is dependent on meeting the eligibility criteria. Not fulfilling these guidelines may mean a DUI conviction would remain on an offender’s record for life.

DUI Expungement in Rhode Island

According to RI Gen L § 12-1.3, a DUI offender may apply for a record expunction. Initially, there are two outcomes after a DUI charge in Rhode Island. First is a conviction when the court proves the accused person guilty or through a plea bargain while the other is charge dismissal. Irrespective of the event, these factors may influence the expungement process. Thus, if the court dismisses a charge, a motorist may have their DUI file removed immediately.

Dismissal is on the grounds that the defendant is not guilty of a felony DUI offense or, after the prosecution, the suspect is acquitted of the DUI offense. If this is not the case, the violator must wait for five years for a misdemeanor charge or ten years if it is a felony charge to apply for expungement. During this waiting period, the offender must not have any arrest, a felony or misdemeanor conviction, or a pending criminal case. Also, good behavior and evidence of rehabilitation may help an expungement request.

In Rhode Island, first-time offenders qualify for the expungement process. Nevertheless, the state also considers DUI violators with not more than five previous misdemeanor DUI convictions or probation for other crimes. Six or more previous misdemeanor sentences automatically disqualify such individuals from filing petitions for expungement. In addition, offenders with felony DUI convictions are ineligible for expunction.

Before a defendant files a petition to delete a DUI record, the court must review the motion and confirm that the prerequisites are all in place. Upon completion, the court grants expungement motion, and the perpetrator pays $100 to effect the change. Expunging DUI records help the offenders on different levels. As an example, a motorist need not provide information about prior criminal convictions to employers. In addition, since the records become unavailable on background checks, it aids violators seeking a mortgage, credit application, and internship.

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Rhode Island?

It is not likely that an offender stays behind bars for a first-time DUI infraction. Most times, the judge may order that the violator is sanctioned by other means asides from jail time, thereby relaxing the punishments. Going by the book, first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or .10%:

  • Pay a minimum of $100 or $300 in fines
  • Get a license suspension for 30 to 180 days
  • Stay in prison for a maximum of one year
  • Engage in community service for 10 to 60 hours

What is the Average Cost of DUI in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, the cost for a DUI infraction may be outrageous sometimes as an offender may have to spend about $8,000 to $12,000. Usually, once a law enforcement officer arrests a DUI violator, the police officer tows the vehicle and stores it until the case is final. The fees for towing and storage are the responsibility of the offender. Therefore the individual pays $150 per day and at least $750 for five days.

Money also goes into hiring an attorney. There is no conventional amount stipulated for legal representation. Thus, the price solely depends on the lawyer and the services the attorney provides. Most legal representatives do not charge lower than $1,000 or higher than $5,000 for a DUI defense.

As a penalty, the court mandates offenders to pay fines. While first-time offenders pay between $100 to $300, second, third, andK subsequent violators may pay up to $1,000. Meanwhile, in the event of continuous DUI infractions, the court orders the offender to install an ignition interlock device that would prevent the automobile from functioning at the slightest detection of a 0.08 or 0.10% blood alcohol concentration level. The installation is valued at $100.

It costs $251.50 to reinstate a suspended license and $351.50 for reinstatement registration. Other costs also worsen the financial situation of an offender since healthcare and repairs may be required if there was an accident. Following the court’s recommendation, a DUI perpetrator in Rhode Island may enroll in an Alcohol Education Program. The program amounts to $350, and failure to complete it leads to driver’s license suspension until the offender finishes the course.

How Much is Bail for a DUI in Rhode Island?

The costs for bail in Rhode Island may differ according to counties and courts, but it does not exceed $1,000. Typically, the police may not release an offender immediately because of the severity of an offense and to prevent the offender from fleeing. However, a police officer may let go an accused person detained for further prosecution on bail. In essence, bail serves as the surety that the offender will comply with court orders until the case is final.

How to Get My License Back After a DUI in Rhode Island?

According to the regulations for motors and other vehicles in Rhode Island, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has the authority to revoke a license. That means the DMV halts the driving privilege a motorist enjoys in the meantime. Following RI Gen L § 31-11-16, the DMV may revoke a license for:

  • Manslaughter resulting from the operation of a vehicle
  • Driving under the influence of a narcotic
  • Committing a felony with the use of a vehicle
  • Driving under the influence of an intoxicant
  • Failure to stop and render aid
  • Forfeiture of bail
  • Making false affidavits or statements of oaths to the DMV
  • Using a fraudulent license to purchase alcoholic drinks

Also, the DMV may suspend a license if there are enough grounds that the licensee:

  • Is guilty of a traffic infraction
  • Violated traffic laws more than once

While the DMV handles all license applications, there are special units set up for license reinstatement. License restoration is on a case-by-case basis, and an offender must pay fines to the tune of $150 to $350 for an alcohol-related suspension. To obtain a reinstated license, applicants may go to any DMV branch with the reinstatement notice, an identity document, and proof of residency.

How Does a DUI Affect Your Life in Rhode Island?

The outcomes of a DUI conviction may stay for a long-time or for a short time. Still, it is capable of wreaking severe havoc on a person. In the long run, a DUI may cause:

  • License revocation
  • Unemployment
  • Increased automobile insurance rates
  • The inability to request financial assistance and loans

While for a short period, a DUI conviction may amount to:

  • The payment of unplanned fines
  • License suspension which may hinder movement
  • Community service
  • Poor personal relationships

Can You Get Fired for a DUI in Rhode Island?

Yes, a DUI conviction in Rhode Island may lead to a job loss. For instance, owing to several malpractice claims, healthcare workers, lawyers, and drivers are licensed. Once a licensed professional gets a DUI conviction, it is likely that the individual is laid off and may not be eligible to practice with a revoked license.

Nevertheless, a DUI conviction may not pose a severe threat to other professions. Also, under the “Ban the Box” act, employers cannot inquire about arrests and conviction records before giving job offers.

How Do I Find DUI Checkpoints in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, DUI checkpoints are illegal but are mounted to stop and probe DUI suspects. Nevertheless, an officer must have enough reasons to engage in a traffic stop. Roadblocks are set up at random locations according to the guidelines and are announced before time. On that account, a motorist may get information on DUI roadblocks via the TV, from the police department, on third-party apps and websites, and the newspaper.

The police briefly interview drivers to spot those driving under the influence of intoxicants. Also, the officer may check for slurred speech, the stench of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, and bottles of alcoholic beverages in open view. In some cases, the law enforcement officers subject drivers to further breath and blood tests to confirm the impairment before arrests.

Which is Worse, DUI vs. DWI?

There is only a slight difference between DWI and DUI. A DWI violation refers to a violation by a driver under 21 years with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or more, while a DUI offense covers adult driving with intoxicating substances such as drugs, narcotics, and alcohol as well. However, DUI attracts severe penalties more than DWI. Therefore a DUI is worse as the offender may likely end up in jail while there is no prison sentence for a DWI offense, according to RI Gen L § 31-27-2.7.