In the state of Rhode Island, driving while intoxicated, or DWI, charges may result if you are suspected of driving with your BAC, or blood alcohol content, at or over the .08 percent limit or if you are suspected to be driving while impaired due to drugs that can affect your driving ability.
Rhode Island DWI laws differ for those who are under the age of 21. If you are under the age of 21 and stopped on suspicion of DUI, you will probably be given a Breathalyzer test unless the presence of drugs rather than alcohol is suspected. If your blood alcohol content is at or greater than .02 percent, you may face DWI charges. Upon conviction, your license will be suspended for a period of six to 18 months if your BAC is below .09 percent. The judge could order fines or community service along with the suspension.
The limit for drivers over the age of 21 to receive a DUI is .08 percent, but if you are a commercial driver, then the limit is .04 percent. This would include transfer truck drivers and other drivers who might work for companies that require a CDL.
Rhode Island’s Implied Consent Law
Rhode Island DWI laws include an implied consent statute. If you are a resident of the state of Rhode Island, the law stipulates, you are agreeing to consent to a blood or breath test if an officer pulls you over and suspects that you have been driving under the influence of any kind of drug or alcohol. If you do not comply with taking a test in the field, then you may be subjected to fines and community service. You could also face automatic suspension of your license.
Felony DWI in Rhode Island
In the state of Rhode Island, most DWI convictions are considered misdemeanors for individuals over the age of 21. Upon receiving three convictions within a five-year period, however, it is possible for the charge to be upgraded to a felony, and other factors may be taken into account, such as one’s BAC at the time of the arrest.
Rhode Island’s “Look-Back” Period
Some states, including Rhode Island, prescribe a fixed time period in which a court may take previous DWI convictions into account when weighing conviction penalties in any one case. According to Rhode Island DWI laws, that period is five years. Any violation occurring within that time period may carry higher penalties.
Recent Changes to Rhode Island DWI Laws
Until 2006, refusing a Breathalyzer test in Rhode Island only constituted a civil infraction for a first offense. For this reason, the state had the highest percentage in the nation of individuals refusing to submit to breath tests for more than a decade, according to NHTSA data. In July 2006, the state’s governor signed a bill that made a second or subsequent offense a criminal penalty punishable by time in jail, and fines, license suspension duration and community service hours were all substantially increased even for first-time offenders.
In June 2012, the state followed the lead of many other states in passing legislating mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices, or IIDs, for repeat offenders as well as those who have repeatedly violated the state’s implied consent laws.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Rhode Island?
In Rhode Island, motorists are subject to a legal alcohol limit of .08 percent, a level reflected in state laws throughout the U.S. A person found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or over this limit is typically arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI).
Some drivers are subject to stricter alcohol limits. Commercial vehicle operators, for example, can be cited with a BAC of .04 percent or higher. People under 21 typically face punishment upon registering a BAC reading of .02 percent or greater.
Penalties for a first-time DUI in Rhode Island could include:
- A fine of between $100 and $400
- Between 10 and 60 days of community service
- Loss of license for between three months and one year
- Required attendance at an alcohol education program
These are only some of the potential penalties that can apply to a person after a DUI conviction. The severity of punishments can vary depending on the perceived seriousness of an offense. For example, a conviction on aggravated charges – involving a BAC at or above .15 percent – can result in more jail time, higher fines and a longer license suspension.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In Rhode Island
Ignition interlock laws in Rhode Island, beginning in 2015, require people convicted of DUI to install a device if a BAC is .15 percent or greater following a DUI stop. Repeat offenders must also install an IID.
Conditions of the ignition interlock device (IID) include:
- Device costs are the responsibility of the vehicle owner.
- A device needs to be regular serviced and monitored by an authorized service provider.
- Failed breath tests can justify additional penalties for a driver.
Installing an ignition interlock device is the only way for a person convicted of OUI to regain driving privileges. Most people install an IID, then, despite drawbacks.
Rhode Island DWI Penalties
Rhode Island drivers are considered to be driving while intoxicated (DWI) when they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. For commercial drivers, this limit is lowered to .04 percent and .02 percent for drivers under the age of 21. Penalties are increased for passing certain BAC thresholds in excess of .08 percent.
Penalties for a First DWI Offense
A first DWI offense is considered a misdemeanor under all circumstances. If the BAC is between .08 and .15 percent, the fine ranges from $100 to $400, and 10 to 60 hours of community service may be assigned. If the BAC is between .10 and 0.15 percent, a judge may assign up to a year of prison time in place of community service along with a three- to 12-month license suspension. With a BAC of .15 percent or greater, Rhode Island DWI penalties include a fixed $500 fine, a minimum of 20 hours of community service and a possible license suspension of up to 18 months. In all cases, a first offense will require a $500 highway assessment and possible mandatory drunk driving school and treatment.
Penalties for a Second DWI Offense
Rhode Island DWI penalties for a second offense only increase if it is committed within five years of the first offense. In this case, drivers with a BAC of .08 to .15 percent face a $400 fine and from 10 days to one year in prison. Their license will also be suspended for one to two years and a $500 highway assessment will be mandatory. A judge may also order the use of an ignition interlock device for one to two years. Drivers with a BAC of .15 percent or greater face a minimum $1,000 fine, a prison sentence of six months to one year, a two year license suspension and participation in a mandatory treatment program.
Penalties for a Third DWI Offense
Penalties for a third offense can only increase if the previous two offenses were committed in the past five years. In this case, the charge rises to the level of a felony. Penalties include a $400 fine, one to three years in prison and a license suspension of two to three years. Your vehicle may also be confiscated and sold by the state.
Penalties for Refusal to Submit to BAC Testing
BAC test refusal results in an automatic suspension of a driver’s license, but it is not a criminal charge in and of itself. However, the state can still bring a DWI charge based solely on the observations of the officer that pulled you over. If you lose the refusal hearing, you face a penalty of a license suspension of six to 12 months along with a fine, a $500 highway assessment and possible community service. For a first offense, this is still only a civil penalty and not a criminal charge. For a second or greater refusal, the charge becomes a criminal misdemeanor, however, with increased fines and possible jail time.