Aggressive Defense for DUI, DWI, and Breathalyzer Refusal Charges in Kent, Providence, and Washington Counties
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Rhode Island, you could be facing severe penalties. Driving under the influence is either a misdemeanor or felony. Several factors determine the level, such as your blood alcohol concentration, number of prior convictions, and whether any aggravating factors were present at the time of the offense. As with other crimes, a conviction can result in incarceration and/or fines. However, for a Rhode Island DUI, you could also lose your driver’s license for anywhere from 1 month to 3 years, depending on your age and the situation. All these sanctions can have a devastating effect on your life. Because so much is at stake, it’s important to contact a Warwick DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
I, Attorney Tom O’Brien, have handled DUI charges as both a prosecutor and a defense lawyer. My unique experience allows me to strategically prepare for these cases and jump into action to defend my clients. Knowing how the other side thinks, I can develop a defense focused on countering the allegations against you. I know you have many questions and the possible outcomes, and I am here to provide the straightforward answers and guidance you need, letting you see that there is hope in your case.
Under Rhode Island General Laws § 31-27-2, DUI involves operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drugs, and/or controlled substances. It can also consist of driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more. Note that in a DUI case, it is not a defense to say that the driver was legally allowed to use the drugs or alcohol.
What Are the Penalties for a DUI in Rhode Island?
The penalties a court can impose for a driving under the influence conviction depend on whether the defendant has any prior DUI convictions, had an elevated BAC level, or any aggravating factors were present at the time of the offense.
Below are a few examples of potential DUI penalties in RI:
- First violation (BAC of 0.08% or more but less than 0.1% or with the presence of any controlled substances):
- Fine between $100 and $300
- 10 to 60 hours of public community restitution
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Second violation within 5 years (BAC of 0.08% or more but less than 0.15% or with the presence of any controlled substances):
- Mandatory $400 fine
- Driver’s license suspension for 1 to 2 years
- 10 days to 1 year in jail
- Alcohol and/or drug treatment
- Third or subsequent violation within 5 years (BAC of 0.08% or more but less than 0.15% or with the presence of any controlled substances):
- Mandatory $400 fine
- Driver’s license suspension for 2 to 3 years
- Between 1 and 3 years in prison
- Alcohol and/or drug treatment
Facing the possible penalties associated with a DUI conviction can be overwhelming and stressful. But the maximum punishments are not definite. By aggressively fighting your charges, you can seek to avoid or minimize the penalties.
As a Warwick DUI attorney, I can put my knowledge and skills to work to pursue a favorable outcome on your behalf. I know how to develop sound strategies and aggressive defenses. I will examine every aspect of your case to determine the avenues to explore and the ways to challenge the prosecutor’s arguments.
Is a DUI a Felony in Rhode Island?
As noted earlier, a DUI can be either a misdemeanor or felony in RI. Generally, first or second DUI violations are misdemeanors.
A DUI becomes a felony upon a person’s third or subsequent violation within 5 years. It is also a felony if the driver committed a second offense involving a child under 13 years of age as a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the alleged crime.
What’s the Difference Between a DUI and DWI in RI?
In Rhode Island, DUI means driving under the influence. The offense is charged when a driver operates a vehicle with an unlawful BAC or when their normal faculties were affected by alcohol and/or drugs. The DUI law applies to anyone driving under the influence, regardless of age.
In contrast, DWI stands for driving while impaired. It is charged when a person at least 18 years of age but under 21 years of age operates a vehicle with a BAC of at least 0.02% but less than 0.08% (RI Gen. Laws § 31-27-2.7).
A DWI is not a criminal offense. However, a violation still has consequences.
Possible sanctions for a DWI in Rhode Island include:
- A fine of not more than $250
- 30 hours of community restitution
- 1 to 3 months of driver’s license suspension
- The driver will also be required to attend a DWI course and alcohol or drug treatment. Failure to complete the course or treatment will result in an extension of the suspension period until the requirement is fulfilled.
Although RI has a DWI law concerning people under 21 years of age, that does not mean underage drivers are exempt from the DUI law. A person between 18 and 20 years of age can still be charged with driving under the influence if they have a BAC of 0.08 or more.
What Happens if You Refuse a Breathalyzer in Rhode Island?
For an officer to arrest a driver suspected of driving under the influence, they must have probable cause. They establish cause by gathering evidence supporting their suspicions. One piece of evidence they can use is the result of a preliminary breath test, often referred to as a breathalyzer test.
The preliminary breath test is administered on the side of the road during the DUI stop. The assessment involves the driver blowing into a handheld device that analyzes the person’s breath to determine their alcohol content.
Refusing the preliminary breath test is an infraction. It can result in a driver’s license revocation and/or a fine of $85 (RI Gen. Laws § 31-27-2.3).
Note that the preliminary breath test is used only to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest. It cannot be used as evidence against the driver. That means the results cannot be admitted in criminal or administrative proceedings.
Kent County DUI/DWI Recovery Resources
There are several local entities in Warwick, RI that may help with the recovery of DWI offenders. Here are some options:
- Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) - The BHDDH offers a range of resources and services related to substance abuse and addiction. They provide information on local treatment providers, support groups, and other resources that may be helpful for individuals seeking recovery from DWI or other alcohol-related offenses.
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) - AA is a support group that helps individuals struggling with alcoholism achieve and maintain sobriety. There are several AA meetings held in Warwick, and attending these meetings can be a great source of support for DWI offenders looking to recover from their addiction.
- Kent County Drug Court - The Kent County Drug Court is a court program that offers treatment and rehabilitation services to individuals who have been charged with drug or alcohol-related offenses, including DWI. The program includes regular drug and alcohol testing, counseling, and other support services to help individuals overcome their addiction and avoid future criminal behavior.
- Rhode Island Department of Corrections - The Rhode Island Department of Corrections offers a range of programs and services to help individuals who have been convicted of a crime, including DWI, successfully transition back into society. They offer substance abuse treatment, vocational training, and other services designed to help individuals overcome their addiction and become productive members of society.
- Gateway Healthcare - Gateway Healthcare is a community mental health center that offers a variety of services, including substance abuse treatment, to residents of Warwick and the surrounding areas. They offer individual and group counseling, medication management, and other support services to help individuals recover from addiction and improve their mental health.
It's important to note that the specific resources and services available may vary depending on individual circumstances and location. It may be helpful to contact a local attorney or rehabilitation center for more information on available resources in Warwick.
Fighting a DUI or DWI charge can be complicated. The laws and criminal and administrative processes are complex. You need someone on your side who understands how the system works.
Backed by over 25 years of experience, I am well-versed in Rhode Island DUI/DWI laws. I can competently guide you through your case and aggressively fight to protect your rights. I will thoroughly review the facts to identify issues such as field sobriety test, preliminary breath test, and chemical test problems, as well as rights violations.
Recognizing what it means to lose your driver’s license and the challenges it can present, I can also work with you to seek a hardship license, which can restore your driving privileges throughout your case.
As a Warwick DUI lawyer, I am ready to listen to your side of the story and pursue a course of action to seek an optimal result on your behalf.
Learn more about how I can help in Kent County, Providence County, or Washington County by contacting me at (401) 397-7262.