Man arrested for possession of marijuana.After years of defending clients charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Rhode Island, our attorneys have heard similar questions time and time again. As a result, we have put together a three-part DUI series, answering some of the most common RI DUI questions.

In this second blog of the series, we will discuss first offense DUI’s in Rhode Island. Last week, we discussed DUI arraignments in Rhode Island and next week in Part Three (3), we will discuss getting a RI DUI dismissed or amended.

Continue reading below for more on first offense DUI’s in Rhode Island.

Can you lose your license on your first DUI charge in Rhode Island?

If you enter a nolo contendere plea to a first offense DUI in Rhode Island or are found guilty of a DUI after trial, you will lose your license. The RI DUI statute is written in a way to require judges to impose mandatory license suspensions.  On a first offense DUI, the license suspension must be a minimum of thirty (30) days or one month.  The maximum license suspension on a first offense DUI is six (6) months.

However, if you are eligible for a hardship license, your license suspension can essentially be non-existent.  A hardship license can be granted during the entire suspension, so long as you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. You should note that your ability to drive on a hardship license is limited to certain locations during certain time periods.  For example, the judge may allow you to drive to work from the hours of 8:00AM and 6:00PM.

Even if you do not seek a hardship license, you may be able to reduce your suspension time by installing an ignition interlock device into your vehicle. For example, if the judge was going to order a four (4) month suspension, you may be able to reduce the suspension to thirty (30) days if you install the ignition interlock device in your vehicle for six (6) months.

The best way to ensure the lowest possible license suspension allowed by law and/or secure a hardship license is with the help of a trained and experienced RI DUI legal practitioner.

Can a first-time DUI be dismissed in Rhode Island?

If you are charged with a first offense DUI in Rhode Island, you may be able to get the DUI dismissed if you refused a chemical test.  In Rhode Island, prosecutors are usually inclined to allow defendants to plea to the civil chemical test refusal charge in exchange for a dismissal of the criminal DUI charge. This is an advisable route for many people whose primary goal is to avoid a DUI conviction. However, it does come at a cost. First offense chemical test refusals generally carry longer license suspensions and higher fines.

For more on ways to get a DUI dismissed in Rhode Island, please see Part Three (3) of this DUI blog series.

Keep in mind that the best way to get a DUI dismissed, is with the trained legal eye of a RI DUI legal practitioner. The lawyers at Abilheira Law have handled countless DUI charges and know what it takes to get your case dismissed.

How likely is jail time for first DUI?

Jail time on a first offense DUI in Rhode Island is usually rare. The rare instances when jail time may be ordered:

  • The defendant was violating bail on another criminal case
  • The defendant was violation probation on another criminal case
  • The defendant has a lengthy criminal record
  • The defendant was involved in a motor vehicle accident, causing bodily injury or property damage
  • The defendant fled the scene of the DUI
  • The defendant was charged with other crimes at the same time as the DUI

Can a first offense DUI charge be expunged in Rhode Island?


If your first offense DUI charge was dismissed, it can immediately be sealed from your criminal record, so long as you do not have a prior felony conviction.

If you entered a plea or were found guilty, you may be eligible to expunge your DUI. You must wait five (5) years from the completion of your sentence and you will need to be a first-time offender, with no other criminal convictions on your criminal record.

We Can Help You!

If you have been charged with a DUI in Rhode Island, call the dedicated and zealous RI DUI legal practitioner 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! We are available 24/7 to take your call