After nearly a decade of successfully defending clients charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Rhode Island, the criminal charges defense lawyers at Abilheira Law, LLC have been asked many of the same questions by their clients. As a result, we have put together a three-part DUI series, answering some of the most common RI DUI questions.
Over the last few weeks, we have discussed DUI arraignments in Rhode Island and first offense DUI’s in Rhode Island. In this third blog of the series, we will discuss getting a RI DUI dismissed or amended to a different charge.
How often are DUI cases dismissed in Rhode Island?
For many years, it has been a “policy” in Rhode Island that individuals charged with both a first offense DUI and a first offense chemical test refusal could opt to plea to the civil refusal in exchange for getting the DUI dismissed. Because of this policy, it is very common for a first offense DUI to be dismissed in Rhode Island, if it is accompanied with a chemical test refusal.
However, it is less common to see a first offense DUI with “readings” dismissed. This is because the defendant does not have the bargaining power of a civil chemical test refusal. Additionally, having BAC readings only strengthens a prosecutor’s DUI case. They are nearly impossible to refute, unless there were series errors in the way that the test was administered.
Additionally, second and subsequent DUI charges are hardly dismissed in Rhode Island, due to the tougher stance taken against repeat offenders.
How to get DUI charges dropped in Rhode Island?
Aside from pleading to a civil chemical test refusal charge, the best way to get a DUI dropped or dismissed in Rhode Island is to challenge the evidence. A skilled RI DUI lawyer can file motions to suppress evidence, refute the evidence at trial, and/or present evidence on your behalf at trial. For example, your RI DUI attorney may:
- Challenge the circumstances surrounding your motor vehicle stop
- Attack the manner in which the field sobriety tests were administered
- Scrutinize the administration of chemical tests/ breathalyzers
- Contest the elements of the crime, for example:
- Can they prove you were the operator of the vehicle?
- Were you actually under the influence of intoxicating liquor?
- Examine the way in which you were informed of your rights and the rights given, such as:
- The right to an independent physical examination
- The right to a confidential phone call
Is it possible to beat a DUI charge in Rhode Island?
It is possible to beat a DUI charge in Rhode Island. DUI’s are very technical. There are many things that the police must “do” during a DUI investigation and arrest, and they must do everything in a particular manner. One misstep could lead to your case being dropped. It is important to have a trained legal eye analyze all of the evidence and craft the right defense for your particular case.
Can a DUI be reduced to a lesser charge?
Yes. There are a few ways we see this.
The first and best outcome for clients is to have the DUI amended to “Reckless Driving.” Reckless driving is considered a non-alcohol related offense and does not carry the same punishments as a DUI. It does not carry mandatory fines, which prevent it from being a “conviction” under Rhode Island law. It also does not carry a mandatory license suspension. Often times, defendants will simply be sentenced to a filing- essentially a one-year delayed dismissal. It can then be expunged from one’s criminal record.
Another option is to amend a DUI to a “Driving While Impaired” charge if the motorist is a minor. While it may have similar penalties to a DUI, it is not considered a conviction under Rhode Island law and therefore most judges will usually expunge it from one’s criminal record once all conditions of the sentence are satisfied.
Sometimes a second or subsequent DUI can be amended to a first offense. This may happen if prosecutors are unable to prove there is a first conviction (for example an out of state conviction) or if the subsequent DUI was not charged in the proper time period (within five years of the first offense). This is helpful in avoiding mandatory jail time and other enhanced penalties that come with a second offense DUI.
Additionally, sometimes a DUI with readings will be reduced to a DUI BAC Unknown if there are problems with the way the chemical test was administered. This will help those defendants charged with a DUI with a BAC above a .15, as the penalties are less severe.
Whether an amendment is right in your case is very factually specific and will usually require lengthy negotiations between a trained RI DUI lawyer and the prosecutor.
We Can Help You!
If you have been charged with a DUI in Rhode Island, call the experienced and aggressive RI DUI attorneys at Abilheira Law, LLC today. Let our attorneys help negotiate the best possible outcome in your case. We can help you avoid lengthy suspensions, jail time, and more.
Call Now: 401-245-5100 or send us a message online! We are available 24/7 to take your call