Part 1 of 3 in the 2021 Blog Series

As experienced driving under the influence (DUI) lawyers in Rhode Island (RI), our attorneys tend to hear the same questions time and time again. As a result, we have put together a three-part DUI series, answering some of the most common questions.

In this first blog, we will discuss DUI arraignments in Rhode Island. Part Two (2) of the series will discuss First Offense DUI’s in Rhode Island and Part Three (3) will discuss getting a DUI dismissed or amended in Rhode Island. Continue reading below for more on DUI arraignments.

RI DUI Arraignments

How long does it take for DUI charges to be filed in RI?

In Rhode Island, most criminal misdemeanor cases, like DUI’s, are filed by the arresting agency or police department within a few days of the arrest. The arraignment or initial appearance will sometimes occur as quickly as the next day if you are held overnight. However, most people will be released with a summons ordering them to court later that same week or the week following the arrest.

When and where will my DUI arraignment take place?

When you are arrested for a DUI in Rhode Island, you will receive a summons to appear in court for an arraignment. When and where your arraignment will be held will depend on where in Rhode Island you were arrested or the agency that arrested you. For example, a Bristol Police DUI case will be heard at the Garrahy Judicial Complex, which is also known as the Sixth (6th) Division District Court in Providence, while a Warwick Police DUI case will be heard at the Kent County or Third (3rd) Division District Court in Warwick.

Always confirm the location and time of your arraignment especially now that the courts are taking extra precautions due to Covid-19. To confirm your court date, you can:

  1. Review the Summons from the Police Department
  2. Call the Clerk of the appropriate court
  3. Search your name on the public portal

What will happen at my DUI arraignment in RI?

First, the judge will call your name. You will be asked to come forward to a podium or other designated area. The judge will then ask you for your name, date of birth, and current address.

The judge will read the charges from the Criminal Complaint drafted by the arresting agency. The judge will then ask the prosecution officer to recite a statement of facts to substantiate the charges on the record.

The judge will then ask you if you wish to enter a guilty/nolo contendere plea or a not guilty plea.

If you enter a guilty or nolo contendere plea, the judge will usually ask the arresting agency for a sentencing recommendation. The judge may modify that recommendation and propose the sentence. Should you wish to accept, the judge will go through the various rights you are giving up by entering a plea, before formally accepting your plea and sentencing you. If you enter a plea at arraignment, your case is over. Before you consider this option, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney, who can advocate on your behalf.

If you enter a not guilty plea, the judge will do several things:

  • Set your bail.
  • Give you a pre-trial conference date.
  • Ask you if you can afford your own attorney or if you would like a referral to the public defender’s office.

Regardless of your plea, there will usually be various paperwork that you will need to sign with the judge’s clerk before leaving the courtroom.

One of the benefits of having a lawyer represent you is having an attorney by your side at arraignment. Your lawyer can help you better understand what is happening and also do most of the speaking in court for you. You should contact an attorney as early as possible, so you have someone in your corner when your arraignment day arrives.

Will my driver’s license be suspended at my DUI arraignment?

In Rhode Island, your driver’s license is not suspended at a first offense DUI arraignment. However, if you have been charged with a civil Chemical Test Refusal, your driver’s license will likely be suspended at your Refusal arraignment at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal (RITT).

Should you plead guilty to a DUI at arraignment?

Generally, it is not in your best interest to admit guilt at arraignment. If you choose to appear at your DUI arraignment without an attorney, you should enter a plea of not guilty. This is true even if you think you are “guilty” or even if you may ultimately end up entering a plea later in the case. Entering a plea “just to get it over” is never a good idea.

DUI’s are very technical and require police to follow precise procedures during their investigation. There are a lot of things that the police need to do correctly during a DUI investigation in order to get a conviction. Having an experienced lawyer to review all of the evidence in your case is important and will ensure that you are not entering a guilty plea to a case that has legal issues. Usually, the opportunity to review all of the evidence does not happen until after arraignment during the pre-trial phase of the case.

Additionally, your ability to negotiate a favorable resolution is limited at an arraignment. The representative from the police department is not a prosecutor or lawyer. They are typically senior officers, inspectors, or detectives. They do not have the ability or authority to truly evaluate your case and negotiate an appropriate offer. Not only that, most people do not have a lawyer with them at arraignment and may be unable to negotiate a successful outcome themselves.

Considering the amount of work that needs to be done to evaluate a DUI case for legal issues, we usually advise our clients to plead not guilty at their DUI arraignment in Rhode Island. However, there are exceptions.

How long does a DUI arraignment take in Rhode Island?

Your arraignment itself will only take a few minutes, but you may spend an amount of time in court waiting for your name to be called.

One benefit to having a private criminal defense lawyer, like the RI DUI lawyers at Abilheira Law, is that the court will usually hear from attorneys and their clients first, which saves you the time and embarrassment of sitting in court all morning. This is because private attorneys have other courtrooms or courthouses to be in, so they are given the courtesy of going first.

We Can Help You!

If you have been charged with a DUI in Rhode Island, call the dedicated and zealous attorneys at Abilheira Law today. Let our attorneys stand by your side from day one at your arraignment, so we can guide you through the case from start to finish.

Call Now: 401-245-5100! We are available 24/7 to take your call