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Rhode Island Court Records

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What is a DUI and a DWI in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island defines Driving Under Influence (DUI) and Driving While Impaired (DWI) as alcohol or controlled substances related to traffic violations. Typically, road users can be charged with a DUI or DWI in a state court if they operate a vehicle within the state while under the influence of liquor or controlled substances, and their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the lawful limit. The state’s Division of Motor Vehicles generally manages traffic violations and administers penalties to persons convicted of DUI or DWI.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Rhode Island?

While DUI and DWI are traffic violations, they both have separate laws that guide how drivers can be convicted and the penalties assessed. The state statutes consider DUI a criminal offense while violations under the DWI laws are not criminal violations, and offenders cannot be jailed. For drivers to be convicted of DUI, their BAC must be 0.08 percent. A DWI violation requires the offender to have a BAC between 0.02% and 0.07 %. Furthermore, only drivers between the ages of eighteen years to twenty-one years are capable of violating the DWI laws.

What happens when you get a DUI for the First Time in Rhode Island?

A first time DUI conviction in Rhode Island is a misdemeanor conviction that is generally punishable by a jail term, fines, and a restricted or revoked driving license. The court usually penalizes guilty defendants depending on the facts of the incidence and any aggravating factors. A first DUI conviction involving a BAC between 0.08 percent or more may result in a jail term of up to a year and fines between $100 to $400. The DMV may also suspend a license for between thirty days to a year. If the BAC level is 0.15% or more, the court can penalize a guilty driver with a maximum jail term of a year and fines amounting to $500. A license suspension between three months to eighteen months is also administered by the DMV. However, persons can plead not guilty to their DUI traffic tickets if they feel unfairly booked.

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, motorists convicted of driving under the influence of liquor or drugs face a high risk of jail time. Under Section 31–27–2, a first time DUI offense in RI is a misdemeanor and usually attracts a jail term of up to a year. However, if the DUI involves serious bodily injuries or death, it results in imprisonment between five to fifteen years.

What are the Typical Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Rhode Island?

Typical penalties for a DUI conviction in Rhode Island are imprisonment, fines, and total or partial withdrawal of driving privileges by the DMV. Usually, the gravity of the offense determines the penalty. Repeat DUI offenses usually worsen the penalty imposed on guilty persons. They include:

  • A first offense DUI: The court usually punishes such offenders with the incarceration of up to a year, fines between $100 to $500, and community service between ten hours to sixty hours. The DMV usually suspends such offenders’ licenses between thirty days to eighteen months and orders the use of an ignition interlock device (IID).
  • Second offense DUI: This may result in a mandatory jail term of ten days to a year if the BAC is between 0.08 percent to 0.15 percent. A BAC higher than 0.15 percent attracts a six months’ minimum jail term and a maximum of a year. Fines could also total $1000 or more. The DMV can suspend a license for up to two years and order the use of IID for half of a year to two years.
  • Third offense DUI: Offenders may be sentenced to jail for a year to three years if the DUI incident involved a BAC of 0.08 percent to 0.15 percent. A higher percentage of BAC results in incarceration of up to five years. Offenders may also pay a fine between $1000 to $5000, and the DMV can withdraw their license for three years. Use of IID may also be mandatory for up to four years.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, a DUI conviction generally stays on an individual’s record for up to five years if it is a misdemeanor offense. For felony DUI convictions, it may remain on an offender’s record for up to ten years. First-time offenders can have their DUI expunged if they don’t accumulate further convictions during the five or ten years waiting period. Interested individuals can file a motion to expunge their records at the court where their DUI hearings occurred.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. Such websites operate independently of any state agencies. Third party sites are generally not limited by geographic location, and typically provide search filters that may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties may need to provide some or all of the following:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Find DUI Checkpoints in Rhode Island?

Under the Rhode Island laws, DUI checkpoints or sobriety checkpoints are illegal and therefore not allowed on the roads. Law enforcement officers, however, can pull over drivers that show signs of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When such drivers are pulled over, the officer may subject them to a breathalyzer to determine their BAC.

Which is Worse; a DUI or DWI?

Under Rhode Island DWI laws, persons guilty of a DWI violation do not commit a criminal offense, unlike a DUI conviction that is a crime. DUI convictions attract a mandatory jail sentence, but DWI is not punishable by such. Only individuals aged at least eighteen years but under twenty-one years can be charged with DWI, given that their BAC is at least 0.02 percent but less than 0.08%. The state’s DMV also administers lesser penalties to persons that violate the DWI laws, compared to a DUI violation.

What is an Aggravated DUI in Rhode Island?

Some aggravating factors can result in harsher punishments for Rhode Island DUI violations than the norm. Such factors are:

  • When an offender has prior DUI convictions within five years
  • Having a BAC that is higher than the legal limit
  • If a DUI incident causes serious bodily injuries or death
  • Reckless driving

What Happens When You Get a DWI in Rhode Island?

A DWI conviction in Rhode Island is generally punishable by a maximum fine of $250 and community service of up to thirty hours. A first violation may result in the DMV suspending the offender’s license for three months, and such persons may also attend a court-approved driving program. A subsequent violation attracts harsher penalties. However, DWI is not a criminal traffic violation, and the court cannot sentence offenders to jail. However, it is possible to contest DWI tickets by entering a not-guilty plea in court to try to reduce the penalties or dismiss the charges.

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