Serious Penalties Come With a Rhode Island DUI

Drivers caught driving drunk by the Rhode Island State Police in 2010 had a lot of company. State police made 449 DUI arrests, the most in the state. City police in Warwick came in second, with 328 DUI arrests. A representative from Rhode Island Mothers Against Drunk Driving remarked that Warwick has made it a priority to crack down on DUI, so it comes as no surprise that its city police made so many arrests.

Other cities whose police departments were among the top five agencies for DUI arrests in 2010 were Woonsocket, with 167, Coventry, with 159, and Cranston, with 148. Block Island and Scituate made the fewest DUI arrests with only five apiece.

The number of arrests include drivers who refused to take a chemical test for intoxication when they were stopped by an officer. Rhode Island law provides that refusal to take the test is a criminal offense, resulting in immediate license suspension for 90 days. Additional penalties may include a fine up to $500 and at least 10 hours of community service.

DUI Penalties

Those who are convicted of DUI face serious consequences, especially for repeat offenses. Even a first DUI can mean up to a year of jail time. Additional penalties include community service of 10 to 60 hours, a fine ranging from $100 to $500, and a suspended license. The amount of fine and length of suspension are higher for people with higher blood alcohol levels. Anyone driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher is presumed legally unable to drive. Persons arrested with a BAC above 0.15 receive higher penalties, such as license suspension for as long as 18 months.

A second DUI within five years can result in jail time, a fine as high as $1000, and license suspension up to two years. A third within five years can draw a five-year jail sentence, fine of up to $5,000, and a three-year license suspension. Higher BAC levels increase the penalties for subsequent DUIs as well. Additionally, second and third offenders will be required to install and use an ignition interlock device in their vehicles, which requires the driver to submit to a breath test before driving.

Besides these penalties, a court can order alcohol or drug treatment and a $500 highway assessment charge.

Given the major effect DUI convictions can have on a person's life, it is wise to obtain legal representation when charged with DUI in Rhode Island. An attorney who specializes in DUI can help to restore driving privileges, mitigate fines and ensure the police followed proper procedure.

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