© 2018 by the Law Office of Richard E. Kühn, III

The information contained on this website is not legal advice, but rather general information. Legal advice should only be relied on when given in the course of an attorney-client relationship, after your attorney has all of the facts of your case.

*Please note that the Rhode Island Supreme Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court license all lawyers in the general practice of law. No lawyer is certified as a specialist in any particular field of practice.

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If you have been arrested for a RI DUI (Driving Under the Influence), you should retain a Rhode Island DUI criminal defense lawyer. East Greenwich DUI Lawyer Richard Kuhn can help.

 

Our office has experience defending those accused of operating under the influence and have achieved many favorable results for our clients minimizing loss of license and obtaining dismissal of criminal charges in some circumstances.

Contact us today for a no-cost initial consultation; let us help you.
401-388-0412 (RI) or 774-955-0808 (MA)
 
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In Rhode Island, a person accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance is charged with a DUI. You may have heard people refer to it as OUI, DWI, or Drunk Driving.  Driving Under the Influence carries different penalties depending on the facts alleged. If you have been charged with DUI in Rhode Island, contact us today for a free initial consultation.

  The Rhode Island statute that makes driving under the influence a crime is R.I.G.L. § 31-27-2  entitled "Driving under influence of liquor or drugs." (emphasis added).

 

   Note that you may be charged for driving under the influence of either alcohol OR "drugs, toluene, or any controlled substance." 

 

   Also note that a combination of alcohol and drugs may also form the basis for a criminal charge in Rhode Island of Driving Under the Influence

 

   In Rhode Island, a first offense DUI is treated as a misdemeanor except as provided in subdivision (d)(3) and shall be punished as provided in subsection (d) of 31-27-2 (which carries increased penalties for persons having a Blood Alcohol Content of .15 or above.

 

   In Rhode Island, a first offender "whose blood alcohol concentration is eight one-hundredths of one percent (.08%) or more by weight as shown by a chemical analysis of a blood, breath, or urine sample shall be guilty."

 

   Note that the law does not focus on whether or not a motorist was able to operate their vehicle prudently, or whether the motorist's ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired; the crime in RI is a biological one. If biologically, your BAC is .08 or more, you may be convicted of Driving Under the Influence in RI.

 

  Of course, when one is charged with Driving Under the Influence in Rhode Island, retention of a Rhode Island DUI Lawyer is imperative. Driving Under the Influence in RI is a criminal offense that does not take into account whether or not one had the intent to violate the statute; it is an offense by which one may be convicted for simply having a blood alcohol content exceeding the statutory limit.

 

    A question my office has encountered in the past is whether or not one may be convicted of Driving Under the Influence in Rhode Island where they have refused the breathalyzer and there is no direct evidence of intoxication. The answer to this question is a resounding yes. You may be convicted based upon other admissible evidence of intoxication. The prosecution may present evidence that alcohol or drugs, or a combination of the two "rendered the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle."

 

    A second question that one may have is whether intoxication due to prescription medication or over the counter cough syrup containing alcohol may form the basis of a charge of Driving Under the Influence in Rhode Island. The answer, once again, is a resounding yes. 

 

    Under R.I.G.L. § 31-27-2 "(t)he fact that any person charged with violating this section is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or a drug shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this section." This means that intoxication, regardless of whether or not the basis for intoxication was permissible, is not a defense to operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

 

   Evidence of intoxication by drugs may be shown by blood or urine sample.

 

PREREQUSITES FOR ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE OF INTOXICATION.

 

   Under the Rhode Island statute, there are safeguards meant to protect a defendant's rights.

 

   A person may refuse the breathalyzer, however, the first refusal of a breathalyzer test will be prosecuted as a civil offense in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. A subsequent refusal is treated criminally. It should be noted that "(e)vidence that the defendant had refused to submit to the test shall not be admissible unless the defendant elects to testify." Therefore, evidence of a refusal cannot be introduced unless the defendant elects to testify at his criminal trial.

 

   A true copy of the report of the breathalyzer, blood, or urine test result must be mailed within seventy-two (72) hours of the taking of the test to the person submitting to a breath test.

 

   The statute also proscribes "(a)ny person submitting to a chemical test of blood, urine, or other body fluids shall have a true copy of the report of the test result mailed to him or her within thirty (30) days following the taking of the test."

 

   Further, the test must be performed according to methods and with equipment approved by the director of the department of health of the state of Rhode Island and by an authorized individual.

 

   Any "(e)quipment used for the conduct of the tests by means of breath analysis had been tested for accuracy within thirty (30) days preceding the test by personnel qualified

 

   Breathalyzer operators must be "qualified and certified by the department of health within three hundred sixty-five (365) days of the test."

 

   "The person arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, toluene, or any controlled substance... or, any combination of these... was afforded the opportunity to have an additional chemical test.

 

   Additionally, The officer arresting or so charging the person shall have informed the person of this right and afforded him or her a reasonable opportunity to exercise this right, and a notation to this effect is made in the official records of the case in the police department. Refusal to permit an additional chemical test shall render incompetent and inadmissible in evidence the original report."

 

PENALTIES

 

For a first violation where the defendant's blood alcohol concentration is  (.08%) but less than (.1%) by weight or who has a blood presence of any scheduled controlled substance shall be subject to

  1. a fine between $100 and $300,

  2. 10-60  hours of public community restitution, and/or shall be imprisoned for up to one year.

  3. A special course on driving while intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance

  4. The court may allow a servicemember or veteran to complete any court-approved counseling program administered or approved by the Veterans' Administration,

  5. 30-100 day suspension of license.

 

   Conviction of a  first violation where the defendant's blood alcohol concentration is (.1%)  but less than (.15%) shall be subject to:

  1. A fine between $100 dollars and $400

  2. 10 - 60 hours of public community restitution and/or shall be imprisoned for up to one year. 

  3. 3-12 month suspension of license.

  4. Attendance at a special course on driving while intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance and/or alcoholic or drug treatment for the individual;

  5. The court may permit a servicemember or veteran to complete any court-approved counseling program administered or approved by the Veterans' Administration.

 

   A first offense where the defendant's  blood alcohol concentration is (.15%) or above, or who is under the influence of a drug, toluene, or any controlled substance ... shall be subject to:

  1. A $500 fine

  2. 20 to 60 hours of public community restitution and/or shall be imprisoned for up to one year.

  3. The person's driving license shall be suspended for a period of 3  to 18 months.

  4. Required attendance at a special course on driving while intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance and/or alcohol or drug treatment for the individual;

  5. The court may permit a servicemember or veteran to complete any court-approved counseling program administered or approved by the Veterans' Administration.

 

   A second violation of Driving Under the Influence in Rhode Island within a five years with a BAC of (.08%) or above but less than  (.15%) or whose blood alcohol concentration is unknown or who has a blood presence of any controlled substance and every person convicted of a second violation within 5 years " regardless of whether the prior violation and subsequent conviction was a violation and subsequent conviction under this statute or under the driving under the influence of liquor or drugs statute of any other state", shall be subject to

  1.   A mandatory fine of $400;

  2. 2 year suspension of license;

  3. The defendant shall be sentenced to 10 days to one year in jail.

  4. Required alcohol or drug treatment for the individual;

  5. The court may permit a servicemember or veteran to complete any court-approved counseling program administered or approved by the Veterans' Administration and;

  6. The court may prohibit that defendant from operating a motor vehicle unless it is equipped with an ignition interlock system for 1-2 years following the completion of the sentence as provided in § 31-27-2.8.

 

  Obviously, second convictions within a five year period are treated more harshly where the defendant's BAC is .15% or more. A person convicted of Driving Under the Influence in Rhode Island a second time within five years, and who, at the time, had a BAC of .15 or greater is subject to:

  1. Mandatory imprisonment between 6 months to one year

  2. A mandatory fine of $1,000 or more; 

  3. Mandatory license suspension for a period of two (2) years from the date of completion of the sentence imposed 

  4. The sentencing judge shall require alcohol or drug treatment for the individual;

  5. The court may permit a servicemember or veteran to complete any court approved counseling program administered or approved by the Veterans' Administration.

 

   Not surprisingly, a third or subsequent violation within a five year period in Rhode Island exposes one to even greater penalties.

  

   Where a defendant's BAC is .08% or above but less than .15% or whose blood alcohol concentration is unknown or who has a blood presence of any scheduled controlled substance regardless of whether any prior violation and subsequent conviction was a violation and subsequent conviction under this statute or under the driving under the influence of liquor or drugs statute of any other state, shall be guilty of a felony

and be subject to

  1. A mandatory fine of $400 dollars.

  2. 2-3 years license suspension;

  3. 1-3 years in jail;

  4. The sentencing judge shall require alcohol or drug treatment for the individual;

  5. The court may permit a servicemember or veteran to complete any court-approved counseling program administered or approved by the Veterans' Administration, and

  6. May prohibit that person from operating a motor vehicleunless it is equipped with an ignition interlock system for 2 years following the completion of the sentence as provided in § 31-27-2.8.

 

   As you can see, there are a wide range of penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Rhode Island. If you have been charged with Driving Under the Influence in Rhode Island, contact us today for a free initial consultation at 401-388-0412 (RI) or (774)955-0808 (MA).

Rhode Island DUI Lawyer