On behalf of Sayer Regan & Thayer of Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.

If you will pardon the pun, DUI laws in Rhode Island are pretty stiff. Taking a hard stance against drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs, the state has implemented stringent laws and penalties based on age and blood alcohol content (BAC) levels. First off, any driver who is caught behind the wheel with a BAC of 0.08% or higher can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI).

The law is even less tolerant of those under the legal drinking age of 21, where a BAC of between 0.02% and 0.08% will also earn a DWI charge. In the event someone experiences a serious injury or dies as the result of a drunk driving accident, the driver can be charged with a felony.

You can discover more about DUI laws in Rhode Island at the Department of Motor Vehicles. But here are some of the important considerations to be aware of when taking to the roads.

Implied Consent

The Implied Consent laws in Rhode Island state that if you operate a vehicle here, you are giving consent to having a chemical blood alcohol content (BAC) test done. If the results show you are at or above the legal limit, you may be charged with a DUI. If serious injury or death results from the accident, police can deny the driver’s right to refuse a BAC.

Refusing a BAC

Those who refuse to take a BAC test will face penalties under the Implied Consent laws, with first offenses including the following penalties:

  • Driver’s license suspension by the RI DMV for six months
  • Drunk driving school or alcohol treatment program
  • Community service
  • Fines
  • Highway safety assessment fees

Penalties for Refusing a BAC

In addition to those penalties, you also face having to pay a Highway Safety Assessment fee ($500), an assessment fee for the Department of Health Chemical Testing Program ($200), and enrollment in a driving school or an alcohol treatment program.
First offense as an adult (at least 18 years old):

  • Fine: Between $200 and $500
  • Community Service: Between 10 and 60 hours
  • Suspended license: Between six months to one year

First offense under 18 years old:

  • Fine: Between $200 and $500
  • Community Service: Between 10 and 60 hour
  • Suspended license: six months

DWI Penalties

If you are under 21, you can be charged with DWI if you are found to have a BAC of between 0.02% and 0.08%. First-offense penalties include:

  • Suspended license: Between six and 18 months
  • Community service: Between 10 and 60 hours
  • Highway Safety Assessment: $500

Also, if you transport alcohol (open container or not), this is against RI law. Even if you weren’t driving at the time of the charge, you can still have your license taken away.

Penalties for DUI

The penalties for a DUI charge depend on the number of offenses, BAC level, age and whether the charge resulted in an accident or serious injury.
First offense charges for 21 years old and older with BAC between 0.08% and 0.10%:

  • Fine: $100 to $300
  • Additional fee: $86
  • Suspended license: 30 to 180 days
  • Jail: up to a year
  • Community service: 10 to 60 hours
  • Alcohol and/or drug treatment and classes

First offense under 18 years old – BAC of 0.08% or higher:

  • Highway Safety Assessment: $500
  • Community service: 10 to 60 hours
  • Suspended license: six to 18 months
  • DWI course
  • Alcohol and/or drug treatment

Keep in mind, DUI charges that cause serious injury or death carry much stiffer penalties, with jail time up to 10 years, fines up to $5,000 and up to two-year license revocation.

These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.