DWI in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, to prove DUI there are two different methods. It can either be demonstrated that the driver was physically or mentally impaired by intoxication of alcohol or drugs, or that the driver had a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. To show impairment, police usually look at driving patterns and your mental functioning, and test that by asking you to walk in a straight line and recite the alphabet backwards. If you are unable to do either of those, it's considered evidence enough that you are impaired, and you can be charged for that.

The second method, dependent entirely on your blood alcohol level no matter how good your physical and mental functioning is, is called the "per se" law. This means that even if you have a very high alcohol tolerance and can function quite well with plenty of alcohol in your system, you can still be arrested for driving a vehicle because your blood alcohol level is higher than 0.08%.

Rhode Island DUI Consequences

Court Fines Potential Jail Time License Suspension
1st Conviction $100-300 Up to 1 Year (Not Likely)
3 to 6 Months
2nd Conviction $400 10 days - 1 year 1 to 2 Years
3rd Conviction $400 Min. 1 year 2 to 3 Years

Enforcement Techniques

In order to enforce the stringent laws set by its state, Rhode Island has blanket patrols, campaigns that are widely publicized to encourage no drunk driving, and field sobriety tests, though the classic sobriety checkpoints are not generally used in Rhode Island. Refusing to take field sobriety tests will cause fines, community service, and license suspension, though license suspension is not necessarily imminent as it is in other states. Educational classes may also be required if you refuse a field sobriety test. Refusal of the test is basically used as proof that you are guilty.


Usually, a charge of DUI in Rhode Island is considered a misdemeanor, though if you do it three times within five years; it will be considered a felony. The penalties are of course higher if blood alcohol level is 0.15% or higher. For first time offenders, no jail time will be served, and the license may be suspended for three to six months, and there will be a fine. You will also be required to perform community service and driving school or alcohol-drug treatment classes will be required at your own cost (it's about $250). If you are under 21 and show any signs of alcohol in your blood, your license may be removed, and you may be fined and required to do community service.

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