Rhode Island DUI Laws & Penalties

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Rhode Island DUI law section 31-27-2 states that it is unlawful for any person to operate or attempt to drive a motorized vehicle in the state of Rhode Island while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, intoxicants or any combination thereof with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater.

It is not necessary for a person who is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence in Rhode Island to show the typical signs of impairment one would expect to see in someone who has been consuming alcohol or drugs, just the fact that that person's BAC level is above the legal limit of .08% or greater will get you arrested for DUI in Rhode Island.

A person can still be arrested and charged with DUI in Rhode Island even if their BAC level is below the legal limit just by displaying signs of impairment that are consistent with driving under the influence.

Even before an officer stops someone on suspicion of DUI, the officer is already starting to build a case against that individual starting with observing the individual's driving behavior prior to initiating a DUI stop.  The officer is going to be observing whether or not you are swerving within your own lane or whether or not you are swerving over the lane markers.

He will also be looking for other signs like excessively wide turns, how you are maintaining your speed versus the posted speed limit and other various observations.  All of this is going on even before the officer initiates a DUI stop.

When you are stopped the officer is going to start by asking the obvious questions as to whether or not you've been drinking and then the officer will proceed into asking you to perform some field sobriety tests.  It is not required by law that you submit to the field sobriety tests, you have every right to kindly refuse to submit to them.

You are however, required by Rhode Island's implied consent law to submit to a chemical test.  If you refuse to submit to a chemical test the arresting officer must inform you of the penalties for a test refusal and then ask you a second time if you will submit to a chemical test.

Every driver who holds a Rhode Island driver's license has agreed to the state's implied consent law when they initially accepted their Rhode Island driver's license.  Basically the implied consent law says that if you are stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence you shall submit to a chemical test to check for alcohol, drugs or intoxicants in your body.

Rhode Island DUI offenses are rated on a 3 tier system. Tier 1 offense is for a BAC level of .08% up to .10%; Tier 2 offense is for a BAC level of .10% up to .15% and a Tier 3 offense is for a BAC level of .15% or higher.  The Tier system is used for every offense.

Rhode Island First Offense DUI

A Rhode Island first offense DUI conviction is a Misdemeanor offense and carries the following penalties:

Jail time: A first offense can result in a jail sentence of up to 1 year. Community service may be offer in lieu of any jail term.
Fines: First offense fines of $100 - $500 plus court costs. Fine amount based upon your BAC level. An additional $500 goes to the highway assessment fund.
Community service: Possible community service of 10 - 60 hours in lieu of jail sentence.
Alcohol treatment: Possible attendence in an alcohol treatment program.
Test refusal: A first offense will result in a 6 month license suspension, along with additional community service, and additional fine of $200 - $500.
Ignition interlock: An interlock is not required for a first offense.
License suspension: Based upon your BAC level your license will be suspended from 30 days to 18 months for a first offense. Before the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles will reinstate your license following your suspension period they will require you to file proof of financial responsibility in the form of an Rhode Island SR22 insurance policy with them.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee.

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Rhode Island Second Offense DUI

A Rhode Island DUI is considered a second offense if it occurs within 5-years of a previous offense conviction and is a Misdemeanor offense and carries the following penalties:

Jail time: A second offense will result in a jail sentence of 10 days to 1 year depending on your BAC level.
Fines: Second offense fines of $400
Community service: Community service of 10 - 60 hours for chemical test refusal.
Alcohol treatment: Mandatory alcohol treatment program for all second offenses.
Test refusal: A second offense refusal will result in a 1 year license suspension, along with additional community service, and additional fine of $600 - $1,000.
Ignition interlock: An ignition interlock will be required for 1 to 2 years for all second offenses.
License suspension: Your license will be suspended for 1 to 2 years. Length of suspension is base on your BAC level. Before the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles will reinstate your license following your suspension period they will require you to file proof of financial responsibility in the form of an Rhode Island SR22 insurance policy with them.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee.

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Rhode Island Third or Subsequent Offense DUI

A Rhode Island DUI is considered a third offense if it occurs within 5-years of a previous offense conviction and there have been at least two prior convictions for DUI.  A third offense conviction is a Felony offense.  The fines and penalties are as follows:

Jail time: A third offense will result in a jail sentence of 1 - 5 years depending on your BAC level.
Fines: Third offense fines of $400 - $5,000 plus court costs. Fine amount based upon your BAC level. An additional $500 goes to the highway assessment fund.
Test refusal: A third offense refusal will result in a 2 - 5 year license suspension, along with additional community service, and additional fine of $800 - $1,000.
Vehicle seizure: Your vehicle may be seized or forfeited upon a third offense.
Alcohol assessment: Mandatory alcohol treatment program for all third offenses.
Ignition interlock: An ignition interlock will be required for 2 years for all third offenses.
License suspension: Your license will be suspended for 2 to 3 years. Length of suspension is base on your BAC level. Before the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles will reinstate your license following your suspension period they will require you to file proof of financial responsibility in the form of an Rhode Island SR22 policy with them.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee.

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Rhode Island CDL DUI Laws

A person operating a commercial motor vehicle in the state of Rhode Island while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or an intoxicant with a blood alcohol concentration of .02% or greater or failing to submit to a chemical test is in violation of the state's laws regarding CDL's and will be arrested for DUI and your CDL will be revoked for a period of 1-year following a first offense violation.  A second CDL DUI offense will result in your CDL being revoked for life.

If you were carrying hazardous materials at the time, your CDL will be revoked for 3-years. A second offense violation while carrying hazardous materials will result in a permanent CDL revocation, you will never be able to drive or operate a CMV again.  A CMV operator stopped and found to have any measurable amount of alcohol less than .04% in their system will be issued an "out-of-service" notice and will not be allowed to drive for the next 24-hours.

If you have been convicted of a driving under the influence offense in a passenger vehicle within the previous 5-year period and you try to apply for a CDL, your application will be denied.

Rhode Island DUI Under 21 Years of Age

A first time violation of Rhode Island's "zero tolerance" regarding drinking and driving for anyone under the age of 21 will result in your license being suspended from 6-months up to 18-months.  You may have to pay fines totaling up to $500 for a first offense.  You may also have to perform 10 to 60 hours of community service.

A second time violation of Rhode Island's zero tolerance law may result in fines of up to $500 along with up to a 1-year sentence in Rhode Island driver training school.  Your license may be revoked for a period of time to be determined by the court.

If you were were stopped with a BAC level above the legal limit you will be facing the same fines and penalties as someone over the age of 21 would be facing for the same offense.

You will also be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of an Rhode Island SR22 policy before the DMV will reinstate your license or issue you a hardship license.

Rhode Island SR22 Requirements

Before the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles will reinstate your license following your revocation period, they will require you to file an SR22 form with them before issuing you a new license. You will be required to carry your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years.

At anytime during this 3-year period if there is a lapse in your Rhode Island SR22 insurance coverage, your insurance provider is obligated by law to immediately inform the Rhode Island DMV of the lapse.  If a lapse in coverage occurs, the Rhode Island DMV will immediately revoke your license and you will be required to re-file an SR22 form with the DMV before they will issue you another license.

Since you are going to have to have your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years, it is important to find the cheapest policy you can before choosing one.  DUI Process has partnered with the largest and most trusted SR22 insurance provider in the state of Rhode Island and has worked out a special discount only available here for our website visitors.

You won't be able to find a SR22 insurance policy in Rhode Island for any less.Type in your zip code below so we can provide you with the cheapest rates in your area.

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Other Rhode Island DUI Resources

  • Rhode Island First Offense DUI - First offense information including penalties, fines, potential jail time, license suspension, DUI classes, and much more.

  • Rhode Island SR22 Insurance Filing - We have compiled everything you need to know about Rhode Island SR22 insurance and filing requirements including important addresses, phone numbers, etc.

  • Rhode Island DUI School - We offer a complete listing of state approved DUI schools listed by County.

  • Rhode Island Bail Bondsmen - Comprehensive list of Rhode Island bail bond agents including address, phone, website, etc.

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