Rhode Island DUI 101

In Rhode Island there is no legal difference between operating while impaired (OWI), driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving while under the influence (Rhode Island DUI). If you are arrested for any of these offenses, you will be ordered to appear in Rhode Island criminal court and the administrative offices of the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles, where it will be decided whether a license suspension from three months to several years is warranted.

In order to obtain a guilty verdict, the prosecutor must prove either per se theory of liability, which says that a person may be found guilty of a DUI if his blood alcohol level exceeds .08 percent (the state statutory limit), or prove that you were under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) while in control of a vehicle. Under the second reasoning, you do not have to be driving the vehicle to be found guilty of OWI; you can be sitting at the wheel with the keys in the ignition. Per se theory supersedes signs of impairment, such as slurred speech or inability to perform field sobriety tests.

First Time Offender with a BAC between .08 to .10%

  • Fine from $100 to $300
  • Suspended license for one to six months
  • Imprisonment for up to a year, with a $50 reinstatement fee
  • 10 to 60 hours of community service
  • Face a Highway Safety Assessment, which is conducted by the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI)
  • Possible completion of a court-approved DUI driving school and/or an alcohol treatment program

First Time Offender with a BAC between .10 to .15%

  • Fine from $100 to $400
  • Imprisonment for one year or 10 to 60 hours of community service
  • Suspended license from three to 12 months

Second Time Offender within Five Years with a BAC between .08 to .15%

  • Minimum fine of $400
  • Suspended license for up to two years
  • Anywhere from 10 days to one year in jail
  • Alcohol or drug treatment
  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock system in your vehicle for up to two years

Third Time Offender within Five Years with a BAC between .08 to .15%

  • Felony charge
  • Mandatory $400 fine
  • Imprisonment from one to three years
  • Two to three years license suspension
  • Alcohol or drug treatment
  • Ignition interlock device for up to two years following jail sentence

Refusal to take a breathalyzer may result in imprisonment from 10 days up to 15 years, 10 to 100 hours of community service, a fine from $200 to $10,000 and license revocation, depending on the number of the offense and the severity of your drinking problem.

Rhode Island does not offer a hardship or restricted license, so you must make alterative transportation options, such as taking a bus, train or taxi to and from work and school.

If ordered to face a Highway Safety Assessment, you must pay $500. If also ordered to enroll in a DUI driving school and/or an alcohol treatment program, additional costs will apply. However, costs vary based on a number of factors, including the length of the school and/or program. You can expect to learn about the effects of being intoxicated while in control of a vehicle, as well as obtain counseling to better understand and resolve your issues surrounding alcohol.

The best way to avoid being charged with a Rhode Island DUI is to never drink and drive or operate a vehicle while intoxicated.