Drunk driving penalties in Rhode Island

Rhode Island drivers should have a good understanding of the penalties assessed for DUI in the state.

Every state in the country has its own unique set of penalties for drunk driving convictions. In Rhode Island, drivers are most likely to be charged with misdemeanors, except in select circumstances when felony offenses can be charged against persons.

As noted by the Rhode Island Bar Association, the testimony of a law enforcement officer alone can be sufficient evidence to support a DUI conviction, even if no blood alcohol data is available. Such realities make it very important for residents to know the different classifications and penalties for DUI offenses before being arrested for such violations, especially if a case is to be designated as a felony crime.

Penalties for first and second offenses

Drivers who are charged with their first drunk driving offenses can face one of three sets of potential penalties. These sets of consequences are based upon the blood alcohol level measured at the time the arrest was made. The State of Rhode Island website outlines these three options for first-time offenders:

  • A conviction with a measured BAC level less than 0.10 percent results in a license suspension between 30 and 180 days, 10-60 hours of community service, potential jail time up to one year and a fine between $100 and $300.
  • A conviction with a measured BAC level between 0.10 but below 0.15 percent results in a license suspension between 3 and 12 months, 10-60 hours of community service, potential jail time up to one year and a fine between $100 and $400.
  • A conviction with a measured BAC level of 0.15 percent, or greater results in a license suspension between 3 and 18 months, 20-60 hours of community service, potential jail time up to one year and a fine of $500.

People convicted of DUI offenses with prior convictions in the previous five years will pay $400 fines, have licenses suspended up to two years, and spend up to one year in jail if the second offense BAC levels were less than 0.15 percent. For cases in which BAC levels are 0.15 percent or greater, a minimum jail sentence of six months is ordered and the fine increases to $1,000.

Penalties for third offenses

A third DUI conviction within a five-year period is classified as a felony. When blood alcohol levels are below the 0.15 percent threshold, defendants must pay $400, spend one to three years in jail and lose driving privileges for two to three years. When blood alcohol levels are 0.15 percent and beyond, defendants must pay between $1,000 and $5,000, spend three to five years in jail and lose driving privileges for three years.

The Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that all license suspensions must be cleared at the DMV office in Cranston.

Legal help is important

People who are charged with drunk driving violations can feel unsure of where to turn for help. Working with a lawyer who has experience in such cases is always recommended in these situations.

Keywords: DUI, arrest, charge, penalties