Rhode Island Public Traffic Records

Rhode Island Public Traffic Records

In Rhode Island, public traffic records are official documents generated and maintained by different agencies in the state. These records contain an individual's traffic and driving history in Rhode Island, including their personal details, traffic tickets, accidents, and suspensions. The agencies responsible for creating and managing public traffic records in Rhode Island are the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), municipal courts, and Traffic Tribunal.

Are Traffic Records Public in Rhode Island?

Yes. Under the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act, the general public is guaranteed access to public records of government agencies at all levels, including the traffic records in the physical custody of those agencies.

However, specific personal information in traffic records can be omitted or redacted per the Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). This includes a driver's address and social security number (SSN). Under the DPPA, such information is considered sensitive/private and, as such, is not released to the public.

What do Rhode Island Traffic Records Contain?

Rhode Island traffic records contain information about registered motorists and their traffic activities and sanctions within the state. For example:

  • A motorist's name and address
  • Date of birth and gender
  • Traffic convictions
  • Traffic violations and description
  • Traffic fines
  • Driving-related license restrictions
  • License information, such as the status of a license, its issuance/expiry date, and the motorist's credential type.

Does a Citation Go on Your Record in Rhode Island?

Yes, traffic citations can go on an individual's driving record in Rhode Island. Although these citations may not remain on file forever, they can lead to the suspension of driving privileges if an individual accrues a specific number within a set period.

It is worth noting that citations can also end up on a person's Rhode Island criminal record, but only if the individual was found guilty of a criminal traffic violation. In such cases, that record may potentially haunt the offender for life, except the party can obtain an expungement order from a municipal court or the traffic tribunal.

Types of Traffic Citations in Rhode Island

Mainly, there are three types of citations (also called traffic tickets) issued in Rhode Island:

  • Parking citations: These are issued for parking violations and resolved by the municipal court in the county/city where released.
  • Infraction citations: These are issued for minor traffic violations such as speeding, illegal U-turns, and vehicle equipment violations. The recipient of an infraction ticket may typically pay a fine to the state or contest the ticket at the traffic tribunal or presiding municipal court (the one stationed in the same county where the individual received the ticket).
  • Misdemeanor citations: These are issued for criminal traffic offenses (for example, driving under the influence) when an offender is not taken into custody for breaking the law.

Rhode Island Traffic Citation Lookup

To look up traffic citations in Rhode Island, an individual needs to visit the state's traffic tribunal or the appropriate municipal court. Below is the traffic tribunal's address and contact number (directions can be found on the state judiciary's website):

Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal
670 New London Avenue
Cranston, RI 02920
Phone: (401) 275-2700

Persons whose inquiries should be directed to a municipal court are advised to perform a general web search for the court's address and contact number, as the state judiciary does not maintain a directory where the public can conveniently retrieve this information.

How to Lookup my Rhode Island Traffic Records

To look up Rhode Island traffic records, individuals can purchase their motor vehicle record (MVR) from the state's Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in person or via an online portal.

A certified MVR can be ordered online with a credit card (Visa, Discover, or Mastercard). However, to access the portal, the record holder must provide certain information about themselves. This includes their last name, date of birth, zip code, and driver's license number. The party will also need to pay a $20.05 record fee to view the record.

Alternatively, the subject of a traffic record may request their record in person at any DMV office or by mail through a written request sent to:

Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles
Operator Control
600 New London Avenue
Cranston, RI 02920

The DMV charges a $19.50 record fee for in-person requests and a $17.50 record fee for mail requests. The relevant fee can be paid in cash or through other acceptable means at a DMV's office. However, if purchasing a record by mail, the fee must be paid by check or money order.

Rhode Island Traffic Violations

A traffic violation in Rhode Island is any action that breaks the state's traffic laws. This can include speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield to pedestrians.

Some traffic violations are classified as misdemeanors, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, some more serious offenses, such as DUI or hit and run, are classified as felonies and can result in much harsher penalties.

Motorists who are cited for a traffic violation will have the option to pay the fine or contest the ticket in court. If they opt to contest the ticket, they will need to appear in court and present their case to a judge. Depending on the outcome, they may be required to pay the fine or have points added to their license.

Where an offender accumulates enough points on their license, they may be subject to a license suspension. In Rhode Island, 12 points within 12 months will result in a suspension. If suspended, the offender will need to surrender their license and complete a driver's education course before it can be reinstated.

Rhode Island License Plate Lookup

License plates are issued by the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Rhode Island. Interested persons can perform a Rhode Island license plate lookup by visiting the DMV website or contacting the DMV directly.

Requestors are typically required to provide basic information about the vehicle, such as the license plate number and make and model. They will also need to provide contact information so that the DMV can get in touch with them. To speak with a representative from the DMV, the requesting party can call them at (401) 462-4381. Alternatively, they may email the Rhode Island DMV at dmv.info@dmv.ri.gov.

How to View Traffic Case Records for Free in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island municipal courts and the traffic tribunal maintain traffic case records in electronic and paper formats. Hence, these records can be inspected for free in person at the relevant agency or remotely using the state judiciary's public portal. This portal can be accessed using public access terminals located in the courthouses during business hours or with an electronic device (phone, laptop, computer, etc.).

Paper traffic case records may also be viewed for free at the court clerk's office in the courthouse where a case was heard. It should be noted that sealed case records can neither be accessed electronically nor in person in Rhode Island.

How Long do Traffic Offenses Remain on a Public Record in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, the duration within which traffic offenses remain on an offender's public record depends on the type and severity of an offense. Generally, traffic offenses remain on an offender's driving record for three years. However, offenses involving alcohol use (e.g., a DUI) stay on record for five years (R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-41.1-10).

How to Remove Traffic Records from Public Websites in Rhode Island

Per the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act, records generated and maintained by government bodies are accessible to the general public. This implies that public records are not only provided on government websites and databases but can also be dispensed through public websites operated by data broker firms. The availability of these public records may pose certain privacy risks; hence, removal may be beneficial to the subjects.

Under R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-41.1-10, traffic records older than three years (except those relating to alcohol use) are automatically expunged from the records of the courts, the DMV, and traffic tribunal records following the adjudication of an offense and the expiration of any mandatory state or federal record-retention period. Records pertaining to alcohol offenses, such as a DUI, are automatically expunged after five years under the same conditions. The effect of this expungement is that the records will cease to be publicly available. Hence, a record owner can notify the relevant agency that manages a public website if their record has not been already removed.

Another way of removing records from public websites is to file for record removal under R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-41.1-7. However, this only applies to certain traffic violations and depends on whether the applicant has a good driving record or not.

Alternatively, an individual may obtain a new P.O. Box address and phone number, then update their personal information with the relevant government agencies (for instance, the DMV). This helps hide their active phone number and home address from public view.

Furthermore, some public websites may offer an opt-out service. When utilized, a record holder can remove their information from a particular website. Public websites that should be targeted when using the opt-out method are those that appear to be more relevant to searches on search engines such as Google or Bing.

Do Motoring Offenses Affect Criminal Records in Rhode Island?

Certain motoring ("traffic") offenses can affect criminal records in Rhode Island. Generally, motoring offenses are classified as civil or criminal within the state. Civil traffic offenses, also known as infractions, are minor offenses that may be added to an offender's driving record but not their criminal record.

On the other hand, criminal traffic offenses can be misdemeanors or felonies. These types of offenses are treated seriously because of the danger they pose to lives and property. Hence, when anyone is convicted of such an offense, it can result in a criminal record. Furthermore, due to the severity of a criminal offense, an offender may face other serious consequences, such as jail time, increased insurance premiums, loss of driving privileges, and difficulty in finding employment.