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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.
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:
Second offense within five years -- BAC between 0.08 and 0.15:
Third offense within 5 years -- BAC between 0.08 and 0.15:
First offense -- BAC between 0.10 and 0.15:
First offense -- BAC of 0.15 or higher:
Second offense within five years -- BAC of 0.15 or higher:
Third offense within five years -- BAC of 0.15 or higher:
First offense -- DUI resulting in death:
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.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified drunk driving lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local drunk driving attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.