With this in mind, we encourage Rhode Islanders to take seriously any charges stemming from a traffic stop, even if they appear to be minor. They can actually have a devastating impact on your life.

For instance, let’s look at a scenario where police pull you over for running through a stop sign. Whether you intended to run though the sign or simply failed to see it, you could be ticketed for a moving violation. If this is one of four violations you receive in 18 months, you will face enhanced penalties under the Colin B. Foote Act.

If police suspect that you might be intoxicated, they can administer field sobriety tests and ultimately charge you with DUI. If convicted, you could face fines, jail time and loss of license.

Police might also ask to search your car. If you allow them to and they find any illicit substances or paraphernalia, then you could be accused of a drug crime. They might also see something in plain sight when they are talking to you that gives them cause to arrest you.

Additionally, if you have a warrant for your arrest or if you are in violation of your probation when police pull you over, they can arrest you right then and there.

Each of these serious offenses starts out with a simple traffic stop, but they can all end up with courtroom appearances and the potential for criminal penalties. Considering how serious these situations are and how harsh the consequences can be, it is generally wise for drivers in Rhode Island to consult an attorney as soon as possible if they have multiple traffic violations on their record or if they wind up charged with a crime as a result of the stop. With legal guidance, it is possible to seek a dismissal or reduction of charges and/or penalties.