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Newport Legal Blog

Ignition interlock devices used to prevent repeat DUIs

In an effort to keep the roads safe, Rhode Island allows steep consequences for those who are convicted of DUIs. According to WPRI, it has been two years since ignition interlock devices became one of the ways judges are able to punish DUI offenders. The devices operate like breathalyzer tests, and before a drive is able to start the car they have to blow into the device and show a blood-alcohol content of lower than .02 in order for the ignition to turn on. The state’s legal limit is .08 blood-alcohol concentration. Judges are able to restrict those convicted of a DUI to only drive cars that are equipped with an ignition interlock device.

When the laws went into effect in 2015, states with similar laws found using the devices lowered repeat offenses by two-thirds. Previously, judges could take away a driver’s license after a DUI conviction, but that didn’t actually keep them from driving or re-offending.

Lawmakers debate recreational marijuana bill

This year, lawmakers in Rhode Island once again debated the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. According to WPRI 12, lawmakers have been debating this issue each year since 2011 without coming to a vote. Since Massachusetts recently passed recreational marijuana laws, with stores opening as soon as July 2018, many supporters want to pass a law so as not to lose out on the tax revenue stores in Rhode Island could provide.

The Providence Journal reports that the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association is against legalization and detailed incidences of crimes where the perpetrators were high, including “36 cases of breaking and entering, nine shootings, four homicides, nine fires and four explosions.” They fear legalizing would lead to an increase in crime, without a staff to support the community. Others worry about the cost of doing business after legalization, including how employers will be affected. Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin cautioned that the legalization of recreational pot could lead to an increase in workplace safety lawsuits.

Mix up between miles and kilometers nets man a speeding ticket

It may be difficult to find anyone in Newport who has not, at one time or another, been asked that all-too-familiar question of “Do you know what the speed limit is on this road” by a law enforcement officer. The range of reasons one may have for speeding may be extensive, ranging from being late for work or an appointment, to simply being unfamiliar with the area. Misinterpreting a speed limit might seem like another of the many excuses people may cite. Yet in some cases, it may legitimately be true.

The differences in the standard units of measurement between the U.S. and Canada recently taught a North Dakota man a costly lessen. The man had been traveling along a Canadian road at what he thought was the posted speed limit of 100 mph. What he did not realize is that Canadian speed limits are posted in metric units. His traveling 100 mph in what was actually a 100 kph zone had him actually driving at 168 kmh. Unfortunately, it took the intervention of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police offer to reveal his error.

How does Rhode Island view marijuana?

While the federal government still views marijuana as a serious drug, Rhode Island has joined the list of states that has legalized it for medicinal purposes. Even without a prescription, if found with it in your possession in certain amounts, you may only be guilty of a civil offense. It is those accused of illegally distributing or cultivating the drug who will face the most severe penalties.

So, what exactly do the state's marijuana laws say? What are the penalties if criminally convicted? And, finally, what defense strategies may prove useful when fighting a marijuana-related drug charge?

The walking field sobriety test

If you have been arrested for and charged with a suspected driving under the influence charge in Rhode Island, you can probably attest to the fear and uncertainty you felt when the officer or officers pulled you over. Many parts of that stop may be a blur to you as you were understandably scared and trying to figure out what was going to happen to you. 

If you were asked to submit to testing, one of the tests you likely took was called a walk-and-turn test. FieldSobrietyTests.org explains that this is one of three standardized tests sanctioned for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Contrary to what you and others may think, however, none of the field sobriety tests are indicated to prove that you were in fact drunk at the time of your arrest. Instead, they are only meant to give enough support to the fact that you might be intoxicated so that officers can legally arrest you.

What is the one-legged stand test?

Have you ever heard people talk about field sobriety tests and wondered exactly what those things were? Well, you are not alone. Knowing what these tests are and what they are used to determine or allow is important for anyone who drives in Rhode Island.

According to FieldSobrietyTests.org, the tests administered at the location of a suspected drunk driving traffic stop are not at all designed to confirm or quantify a driver's intoxication. Instead, the three tests are together intended to provide a law enforcement official with enough evidence to warrant placing a person under arrest. It is akin to probable cause if you will. One of the three tests used is referred to as the one-leg stand test for obvious reasons.

Defining white-collar crime

People in Newport may hear the term “white-collar crime” and conjure up images of debonair thieves stealing millions from giant corporations and being sent to the mythical “Club Fed” if they ever happen to get caught. However, such crimes are typically much less glamorous than popular media depicts them to be. Plus, the penalties that one may face for being convicted of such activity are often much more severe, as well.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation states that the definition of white-collar crime depends on the entity defining it. Some classify it based upon the social standing of the offender, while others define it based upon the organizational culture in which it occurs. For its part, The FBI views it as being any illegal action perpetrated through deceit, the violation of trust or concealment, independent of its application or any threat of force, that is committed to secure property, personal or professional advantages, or money and/or services, or to avoid a monetary loss.

Rhode Island State Police charge woman with DUI

Rhode Island residents may know that April is distracted driving awareness month but that does not mean that drivers will not need to watch out for officers and stops that may lead to other issues such as a drunk driving arrest. Even as April was imminent, one woman from Massachusetts learned this while driving southbound along a stretch of Route 295 in Rhode Island.

Reports allege that the woman, who is 23 years old, was found to have a blood alcohol content of approximately 0.40 percent. That is literally five times the legal limit for intoxication of 0.08 percent. If the breath tests are accurate, it is unsure how the woman was actually even conscious let alone driving. The arrest was made late on a weekday afternoon after people are said to have made calls to an emergency number because they saw the woman supposedly driving in a poor manner.

Rhode Island motorists will want to know about these three tests

Many people flock to Rhode Island this time of year to relax with their families and watch springtime come alive at scenic locations around the state. Of course, when tourist season piques, this also means roadways see even more traffic than usual. Many vacationers look forward to wining and dining while they're here, and this type of recreation often leads to trouble when a driver makes the choice to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.  

Of course, not every out-of-state visitor drives drunk. Even so, many people wind up getting pulled over for things completely unrelated to alcohol such as broken tail-lights or malfunctioning turn signals. This, in turn, often leads to unexpected requests for testing to determine impairment.

Defining the different levels of assault in Rhode Island

Altercations may be common in Newport, yet if you are like most, you may assume that few escalate into what many would consider to be assault. Yet oftentimes, clients come to us here at Lynch and Pine surprised to discover that what they may have classified as being minor scuffles end up netting them assault charges. If you have been involved in an altercation that could potentially result in criminal charges, you may want to exactly how the state defines assault, as well as what penalties you may face.

According to the General Laws of Rhode Island, any assault or battery that results in serious bodily injury could cause you to face felony charges. The law defines “serious bodily injury” as:

  •          Injuries that create a substantial risk of death
  •          Injuries that result in the impairment of a body part or organ
  •          Injuries that cause permanent disfigurement
  •          Injuries that circumcise, excise or infibulate any part of a male or female’s genitalia
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