In Rhode Island, driving while intoxicated (DUI) is a misdemeanor for first time offenders. If the police pull you over under the suspicion of drunk driving, they may ask you to take a breathalyzer test. Anyone driving on the roads in Rhode Island is presumed to have given consent to a breathalyzer test. You do NOT have to submit to a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, however, the police will likely charge you with a second separate offense for refusal to submit to a breathalyzer. In addition, refusal to take a breathalyzer exam will result in suspension of your license. If you do submit to the test, the results can be used against you in Court, and this result may be enough to support a conviction.
You should also know that Rhode Island has recently adopted a law mandating breathalyzer tests for all drivers suspected of DUI (link to my blog post regarding this new law) if they have caused an accident resulting in serious bodily injury.
First, you must know that police require probable cause to pull you over. The most common basis for a traffic stop is a moving violation such as speeding, red light violation, or improper lane change. One defense that can be presented is that the police had no justification to pull you over in the first place. A Motion to Suppress can be filed, and if successful, the case can be won on the grounds that the police had no right to pull you over. The police would not know of the DUI if not for an inappropriate traffic stop.
If you submitted to a breathalyzer test and failed, the case is not necessarily lost. Rhode Island State law requires that breathalyzer tests be performed in a proper and timely fashion and reported to appropriate authorities. If the police failed to comply with these statutory requirements, then the results of the breathalyzer may be inadmissible. Also, a failed breathalyzer test may be inadmissible if the equipment was not properly calibrated or cared for. There is a margin of error for these tests that may reduce the credibility of the results.
The following is a summary of the guidelines for DUI penalties in RI. Additional charges will be added if the DUI results in serious bodily injury. These numbers can be affected by your prior criminal record, if any, and other circumstances.
First Offense - Blood alcohol content between .08-.10
- Fine ranging from $100-$300 in addition to court costs and penalties
- Suspended license for up to six months
- Possible jail time
- Possible community service
First Offense - Blood alcohol content between .10-.15
- Fine $100-$400 in addition to court costs and penalties
- Possible jail time no greater than one year
- Possible community service
- Suspended license for up to 12 months
First Offense - Blood alcohol content of .15 or Higher
- Fine $500 in addition to court costs and penalties
- One year in jail or 20-60 hours of community service
- Suspended license for up to 18 months
- Participation in a drunk driving course or drug or alcohol treatment plan
Second Offense - Blood alcohol content between .08-.15%
- Fine $400 in addition to court costs and penalties
- Suspended license for up to two years
- Minimum 10 days in jail and as much as one year
- Alcohol or drug treatment program
Second Offense - Blood alcohol content of .15% or Higher
- $1,000 Fine in addition to court costs and penalties
- Jail for 6-12 months
- Suspended license for two years
Third Offense - Blood alcohol content between .08-.15%
- The third offense becomes a felony
- Mandatory minimum fine of $400
- One to three years in jail
- Two to three years license suspension
- Participation in an alcohol or drug treatment program
- Ignition interlock device for up to two years after sentence is completed
Third Offense - Blood alcohol content between .15% or Higher
- Fine ranging from $1,000-$5,000
- Jail for 3-5 years
- Suspended license for three years
- At the Court's discretion, defendants vehicle may be seized by the State
In addition, the penalties for refusing to take a breathalyzer will also increase with each subsequent offense.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Rhode Island contact our office right away for a free consultation.