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.
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) 561-7240.