Rhode Island DUI Defense Lawyers
Serving the Drivers of Rhode Island Including Warren, Providence, Cranston, Newport, Bristol, Warwick, East Providence, Pawtucket, and Barrington
Call Our DUI Defense Law Firm Today At (401) 245-5100
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Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious charge and can have a tremendous impact on your reputation, family and career. If charged, you could face severe consequences. At Abilheira Law, LLC, we utilize aggressive and creative legal solutions to defend clients. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can begin building a strong case in your defense.
Depending on your blood alcohol content, previous criminal history and several other factors, a DUI charge is punishable by jail time. The result of such a charge and conviction can lead to license suspensions, the imposition of an ignition interlock device, heavy fines, increased car insurance rates, and a criminal record that you could have for the rest of your life. When the stakes are this high, it is important to contact an experienced Rhode Island DUI Lawyer. The DUI defense attorneys at Abilheira Law will evaluate your individual case and provide you with clear explanations of all your options.
No matter your situation, we can help.
Tell us about your DUI charges in a free case evaluation.
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At Abilheira Law, our experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorneys will guide you through the DUI process while explaining your legal options and preparing an aggressive defense. We proudly serve clients throughout Rhode Island. At our firm, we never take our clients’ charges lightly, always going above and beyond to secure the best outcome possible. We are relentless in our defense, strategic in our negotiations, and fearless when it comes to taking our clients’ cases all the way to trial.
Frequently Asked RI DUI and Refusal Questions
What does BAC mean and what is the legal limit in RI?
BAC stands for blood alcohol content or concentration. In Rhode Island, the legal limit is 0.08%. However, the legal limit for drivers under the age of twenty- one (21) is 0.02% and the legal limit for commercial drivers is 0.04%.
What is a field sobriety test and what are the most common types?
A field sobriety test (FST) is a standardized test that police officers across the country are trained to administer to drivers that they suspect are under the influence of alcohol. The three most common FST’s are the one leg stand (balancing on one leg for a period of time, without the use of arms for balance), the walk-and-turn test (walking on a straight line using heel to toe- steps), and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN).
Can you refuse to take FST’s in Rhode Island?
Yes! There is no penalty for refusing to take the FST’s.
Can you refuse a breathalyzer test in Rhode Island?
Yes, you can refuse a breathalyzer and/or other chemical test, but you will face a chemical test refusal charge.
Will my license be suspended because of a chemical test refusal or breathalyzer refusal in Rhode Island?
Yes, your license will normally be suspended at the time of your arraignment or initial appearance at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. This is because of the theory of “implied consent.” At your refusal arraignment, the judge or magistrate will review the police officer’s sworn statement (affidavit) to ensure that the police officer had a reason to believe that you, as the operator of a motor vehicle, were under the influence of alcohol at the time you were pulled over and that the officer advised you of your rights. So long as the judge is satisfied that these conditions occurred, a preliminary suspension will issue. Please note, if your license is ultimately suspended after a plea or guilty finding on the refusal charge or DUI charge, you will receive credit for the preliminary suspension period.
How long will my license be suspended for because of a breathalyzer refusal in Rhode Island?
A first offense breathalyzer refusal conviction in Rhode Island carries a license suspension of six (6) months to one (1) year.
A conviction for a second offense breathalyzer refusal in Rhode Island carries a license suspension of one (1) to two (2) years.
A third or subsequent breathalyzer refusal conviction in Rhode Island carries a license suspension of two (2) to five (5) years.
However, the loss of license mentioned above may be able to be reduced to as little as thirty days in a first offense refusal if you install an ignition interlock device. Additionally, if you are eligible for a conditional hardship license, you may never lose your license on a first offense breathalyzer refusal.
For more on breathalyzer refusal penalties, including possible license suspensions please visit our Refusal page.
On what conditions may a breathalyzer result get thrown out/suppressed?
Chemical test results can be suppressed if the police did not properly advise the motorist of their rights. Chemical test results can also be suppressed if the test was not administered properly. For example, if the machine was not calibrated or if the police did not adhere to the observation period.
I have been charged with a DUI, am I going to lose my license?
A DUI charge or accusation alone will not trigger a license suspension, but a DUI conviction will ultimately result in license suspension as part of your sentence.
When will I lose my license if I have been charged with a DUI?
If you are convicted of a DUI, your license will be suspended at the time you are sentenced. Sentencing will occur at the time of a plea or after a guilty finding at trial.
How long will my license be suspended for because of a DUI?
The length of your license suspension will depend on your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of your arrest and whether or not you have prior alcohol related offenses. For example:
- First Offense DUI (.08-.10): License suspension of 1-6 months
- First Offense DUI (.10-.15 or BAC Unknown): License suspension of 3-12 months
- First Offense DUI (.15 or greater) License Suspension of 3-18 months
- Second Offense DUI (.08-.15 or BAC Unknown): License Suspension of 1-2 years
- Second Offense DUI (.15 or greater): License suspension of 2 years
- Third Offense DUI (.08-.15 and BAC Unknown): License Suspension of 2 -3 years
- Third Offense DUI (.15 or greater): License Suspension of 3 years
However, the loss of license mentioned above may be able to be reduced to as little as thirty days in a first offense DUI if you install an ignition interlock device. Additionally, if you are eligible for a conditional hardship license, you may never lose your license on a first offense DUI.
For more on DUI penalties, including possible license suspensions please visit our DUI Penalty page.
Will I be able to drive after a DUI or refusal?
You may be able to drive during your license suspension period if you have a conditional hardship license. This license can allow you to drive for employment, educational, medical, and other reasons with the court’s permission.
Alternatively, you may be able to cut down your license suspension period if you install and ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
If you are not eligible for a conditional hardship license and do not install an ignition interlock device, you will be able to drive once your license suspension period is over and you have reinstated your license at the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
What are the pros and cons of installing an ignition interlock system in your vehicle?
There are many advantages and disadvantages of installing an ignition interlock system.
- You will be able to seek a conditional hardship license to drive to and from work, school, and other approved activities
- You will be able to reduce your license suspension to as little as thirty (30) days.
- It will be easier to maintain sobriety, as you will constantly be responsible for submitting chemical test results to the DMV.
- Interlocks can be costly: you will need to pay to install and uninstall the device, you will have to pay a monthly monitoring fee, and you will have to pay a fee to the DMV.
- It can be embarrassing if you drive with family and friends, as they will likely see you blow into the device
- Family and friends will not be able to drive your vehicle while the ignition interlock is installed
- You are limited to driving only the vehicle with the interlock installed- you cannot rent another car or borrow a friend or family member’s car- or you could be charged with a criminal offense.
- You can be charged with additional criminal offenses if you are found to be altering or tampering with the device.
My license was issued from another state, not Rhode Island, how will a DUI or refusal impact my ability to drive?
If you are not licensed in the State of Rhode Island, Rhode Island will only have the ability to prohibit or restrict your privilege to operate a motor vehicle within the State of Rhode Island. This means that Rhode Island cannot suspend your out of state driver’s license. Therefore, you are free to drive in any state, other than Rhode Island, unless and until the state who issued your driver’s license decides to suspend your license.
What is the “look-back period” in Rhode Island?
In Rhode Island, the DUI/refusal look-back period is five (5) years. This means that you can be charged with a second or subsequent offense DUI or refusal if your first offense conviction occurred within five (5) years of your second or third conviction.
Do the criminal penalties increase if you have multiple DUI charges?
Yes, in addition to the longer license suspension periods described above, the other DUI penalties also increase with each additional DUI. A second offense, within a five (5) year period, in the State of RI or in any other state, will include mandatory jail time, as well as enhanced fines, and mandatory counseling.
Even if the convictions do not occur within five (5) years of each other, prosecutors may still use prior DUI and refusal convictions to enhance your sentence.
Can I plead to a lesser offense?
If the prosecution’s case contains serious flaws, you may be able to plead to a lesser offense. In Rhode Island, a reckless driving charge is considered a lesser offense to a DUI and does not include the harsh penalties associated with a DUI. For example, a reckless driving charge will usually result in a filing, which is not a criminal conviction in Rhode Island and can be expunged after one year. A reckless driving charge generally does not include a license suspension, DUI school, or the increased fines associated with a DUI.
What is SR-22 insurance and how does it vary from “regular” insurance?
SR-22 insurance is a “financial responsibility” policy. Essentially, it is an additional insurance policy, above and beyond your normal motor vehicle insurance.
Will I need an SR-22 if I have been charged with a DUI or refusal in Rhode Island?
If you are convicted of a DUI or a Chemical Test Refusal in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles will require an SR-22 or proof of financial responsibility policy. This policy must be on file with the DMV prior to reinstating your driving privileges. Additionally, you must maintain this policy for a period of three (3) years.
What are the consequences of continuing to drive after your license is suspended for a DUI or refusal?
If you are arrested for driving during a license suspension period imposed as a result of a DUI or refusal, you will face a criminal charge under Rhode Island General Laws §31-11-18.1. A first offense is a misdemeanor and penalties include a mandatory ten (10) days in jail, a $500 fine, and an additional three (3) month license suspension period. A second offense is also a misdemeanor with penalties that include six (6) months to one (1) year at the ACI, a $500 fine, and an additional six (6) month license suspension period. Third and subsequent offenses are felonies and can include a minimum prison sentence of one (1) year.
Why is obtaining a lawyer in a drunk driving case highly recommended?
DUI and refusal cases are extremely technical. There are a series of requirements that the police must follow and if they do not, it could be grounds to have a case reduced to a lesser included offense or dismissed completely. Without training and expertise, it is impossible to spot these issues and defend against these charges. Hiring a skilled RI DUI attorney will give your best chance to beat these charges!
Why should you hire counsel even if you intend to plead guilty?
Even if you intend to plead guilty to a DUI or refusal, you should consider hiring an experienced RI DUI lawyer, who can negotiate the best possible offer. If you have been charged with both a DUI and a refusal in RI, your lawyer can also ensure that you are not subject to penalties on both, as they can negotiate a dismissal of one of the charges.
Don’t hesitate! Contact the Rhode Island DUI lawyers at Abilheira Law today and get our skilled and aggressive RI DUI attorneys working for you! 401-245-5100