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What happens when you get a DUI in Rhode Island?

Here's what you need to know...
  • DUI penalties in Rhode Island are strict and become more punitive with subsequent offenses
  • The state does employ precautionary measures to reduce repeat instances of drunk driving
  • Finding auto insurance after a DUI conviction may be less stressful than initially imagined

Driving while under the influence brings forth a tremendous amount of legal troubles. The state of Rhode Island, especially, has strong laws on the books regarding intoxicated driving.

Mostly all drivers inhabited the state’s road know laws against drunk driving reflect a serious commitment to deterrence and punishment. Not a single one of the 50 states present laws intended to be lenient on those who drive in an impaired state.

The average driver knows drunk driving brings about repercussions, but he/she might not be completely aware of how impacting DUI laws and insurance-related issues are. Lack of knowledge sometimes serves as the root to even more costly civil and legal troubles.

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DUI Laws


All DUI laws in the state of Rhode Island can be easily researched. No officials hide the laws from the public.

Drivers should take steps to familiarize themselves with these various laws since added knowledge allows for better following the law. At the very least, some preparedness may be in place if a violation of the law occurs.

– Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level

At the core of DUI laws is the question of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of the driver. Once a blood alcohol level exceeds a certain threshold, the driver is considered legally drunk. The blood alcohol concentration threshold in Rhode Island is as follows:

  • .08 percent for drivers over age 21
  • .02 percent for drivers under age 21

An officer would need probable cause to pull a vehicle over for suspicion of a DUI. Swerving or otherwise not being able to maintain control of the vehicle could serve as the basis for probable cause. Other issues besides erratic driving impact how the police may react to a driver on the road.

– Open Container Violations

Rhode Island is one of the states in which a driver with an open container of alcohol can be pulled over by the police. Drivers who flaunt the law in such a brazen way should not be stunned to discover the police stop their cars.

Passengers, however, get a pass under the state’s laws. Passengers are allowed to possess an open container of alcohol. Whether this is wise to do is another matter.

– Breathalyzer Tests

Appearing drunk and actually being legally drunk are two different matters. The police would need to determine an actual BAC level.

After being pulled over by the police for suspicion of drunk driving, the subject of a breathalyzer test quickly comes up.

Through the test, BAC can be determined. When the police wish to perform a test on a driver, they have implied consent laws on their side. Implied consent laws, in essence, dictate anyone driving on the roads in Rhode Island gives consent for a breath or urine test.

Refusal to undergo a breathalyzer test opens the doors for penalties. The penalties are not minor ones:

  • First Offense – A driver’s license receives a six-month suspension. Fines range from $200 to $500. The community service sentence may be 10 to 60 hours.
  • Second Offense – A driver’s license receives a one-year suspension. Fines range from $600 to $1,000. The community service sentence may be 60 to 100 hours.
  • Third Offense – A driver’s license receives a one-year suspension. Fines range from $600 to $1,000. The community service sentence may be 60 to 100 hours and the possibility of jail time exists.

DUI Penalties


Anyone who is convicted of a DUI shall face several dire penalties that not only impact one’s ability to drive, the penalties cause serious problems to a person’s life due to the impact.

– First Offense

Ten to 60 hours of community service along with a six-month license suspension would impose more than a small amount of inconvenience on a driver. Fines range from $100 to $500 and do not include additional court costs creating a financial burden as well.

– Second Offense

The 10 to 60 hours of community service and $100 to $500 in fines remain, and the added penalty of 10 days in jail brings even more severity to the situation.

A mandatory alcohol treatment program is imposed along with court costs and a one-year license suspension.

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– Third and Subsequent Offenses

With a third offense and subsequent offenses, the law in Rhode Island takes a turn to the very harsh. Attendance in an alcohol treatment programs is once again mandatory and a license suspension could last two to five years and the court retains the ability to seize a vehicle.

For two years, your vehicle must carry an ignition interlock. Fines are heavy ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Most significant is the potential jail time that can last anywhere from one to five years.

Being convicted of a DUI brings damaging penalties in the state of Rhode Island. These penalties should serve as a means of deterring someone from getting behind the wheel and drinking and driving.

A license suspension alone should be enough to act as a deterrent. Yet, many people do not realize how significant a suspension can be.

License Suspension

Misconceptions may exist regarding what a license suspension entails or how damaging one is. A license suspension means driving privileges are taken away. A person with a suspended license may not get behind the wheel of a vehicle or else face further criminal charges.

A suspension is not, however, the same thing as a revocation, a permanent suspension of license privileges in a particular state.

With a suspension, driving privileges may be reinstated. Requirements may be put in place such as a minimum time period such as a six-month suspension or until completing an alcohol treatment program.

Fines may need to be paid before the reinstatement is approved.

Each reinstatement case is unique, so the particulars of reinstatement vary from individual or individual. Those suffering from a license suspension must follow the court’s directives in order to get out of the difficult situation they have been placed.

DUI Precautions

The courts in Rhode Island realize preventing future DUI’s must be taken into considerations. Persons with alcohol and substance abuse issues and repeat offenders pose great risks.

Therefore, the legal system may impose added measures designed as a form of precautionary safety.

– Interlocking Device

One very common precautionary mechanism is an interlocking device, a locking system connected to a vehicle’s ignition. The system works as a breathalyzer that locks or unlocks the ignition. If the system detects alcohol, the ignition cannot be accessed.

The device might even require periodic retests during a drive. While not a perfect nor a foolproof device, the presence of the unit does add some measure of precautionary control to the situation.

– Alcohol Education Program

Many people who are arrested for a DUI struggle with their alcohol consumption. A court-ordered Alcohol Education Program allows access to professionals who run classes intended to assist these persons. Some attendees may find themselves enrolling in an actual treatment program.

Insuring a DUI offender


Beyond the legal troubles a DUI brings, insurance issues arise. Auto insurance is mandatory in Rhode Island and, even if no coverage requirements existed, purchasing auto insurance is necessary to cover potential civil losses in the event of an accident.

Any person with a DUI conviction or traffic offense will be deemed a high-risk driver. Because of this, the driver must seek out a high-risk auto insurance policy. These policies can be costly, but at least the policies exist and remain an option to drivers in a bind.

While the costs of such a policy are high, high-risk insurers are in competition with one another. Reviewing several quotes may lead to getting a decent deal on such insurance.

Bringing the price of the policy down even further may be achieved through specific discounts.

Keeping an interlock device on the vehicle even without a court order could act as a clear DUI preventive tool that an insurer may take into consideration. Something as simple as enrolling in a defensive driving course might be another.

Finding auto insurance with a drunk driving conviction on a record can be tough, but not impossible. Understanding the complexities of such insurance and doing what is required to locate a proper policy aid in overcoming several difficulties.

Protecting the Public

The state of Rhode Island may seem tough on drunk drivers, but good reasons exist why this is so. A person driving while intoxicated presents a danger to himself and others.

The legal penalties for DUI could force more responsible behavior in the future or, at the very least, keep a dangerous driver off the road for a specified time period.

Those trying to put their DUI convictions behind them might be forced to deal with some complexities. Hopefully, with consistent comparison shopping, the journey to locate necessary car insurance won’t be too stressful.

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