Drunk Driving Defense Law in Rhode Island

The state of Rhode Island covers all of the bases where drunk driving laws are concerned. 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 while intoxicated charge should consider seeking the advice of a legal professional so a vigorous defense can be created.

Drivers over 21 who have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher can be charged with DWI. Drivers under the age of 21 who have BAC levels between 0.02 and 0.08 can be charged with driving under the influence. For both, in most cases, a first offense is a misdemeanor, but if the actions result in a death, the charge is automatically upgraded to a felony.

Possible Penalties for DUI and DWI

Penalties for DUI and DWI vary depending on the driver's BAC level, the age of the driver and whether or not the driver submitted to the BAC test. Whether it is a first or subsequent offense is also considered. For those 21 years and older:

First offense -- BAC between 0.08 and 0.10:

  • Fined $100 to $300
  • Suspended license for 30 to 180 days
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Possible 10 to 60 hours of community service

Second offense within five years -- BAC between 0.08 and 0.15:

  • Fined $400
  • Suspended license for up to two years
  • Anywhere from 10 days to one year in jail
  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock system for up to two years

Third offense within 5 years -- BAC between 0.08 and 0.15:

  • Felony charge
  • Mandatory $400 fine
  • One to three years in jail
  • Two to three years of license suspension
  • Ignition interlock device for up to two years after sentence is completed

First offense -- BAC between 0.10 and 0.15:

  • Fined $100 to $400
  • One year in jail
  • 10 to 60 hours of community service
  • Suspended license for three months to 12 months

First offense -- BAC of 0.15 or higher:

  • Fined $500
  • Up to one year in jail
  • 20 to 60 hours of community service
  • Suspended license three to 18 months
  • Mandatory participation in a special course on DWI and/or drug treatment

Second offense within five years -- BAC of 0.15 or higher:

  • Fined $1,000
  • Jail for six months to one year
  • Suspended license for two years

Third offense within five years -- BAC of 0.15 or higher:

  • Fines of $1,000 to $5,000
  • Jail for three to five years
  • Suspended license for three years
  • Vehicle may be seized and sold by the state

First offense -- DUI resulting in death:

  • Jail sentence five to 15 years
  • Fined $5,000 to $10,000
  • Revoked license for five years

Along with the fines listed above, convicted drivers could also be assessed a Highway Safety Fee of $500, and additional $86 fee and be required to enroll in a driving school and an alcohol treatment program.

For drivers who refuse to submit to a BAC 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 Department of Health's chemical testing programs. For habitual offenders within five years, there could be a license suspension between two and five years, a fine up to $1,000, up to a year in jail, a mandatory 100 hours of community service, alcohol or drug treatment, a hearing to determine if a license will be reinstated, and a $200 fee to the Department of Health's chemical testing programs.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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