Rhode Island Ignition Interlock and Hardship License Defense Attorney

When you are facing a DUI or breathalyzer refusal charge in Rhode Island, it may be imperative for you to seek a conditional hardship license to get to and from school, work, or medical appointments. In Rhode Island, a conditional hardship license will require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID).

If you are facing DUI charges and would like to find out if you are eligible for a conditional hardship license, we encourage you to reach out to our firm for counsel. Our skilled Rhode Island attorneys can review your case and help you take the next best step forward.

Get informed on your rights—call our firm today at (401) 245-5100.

A conditional hardship license is only available to those motorists charged with a first/second DUI offense or a first offense refusal. A motorist must also install an ignition interlock device to be eligible for a hardship license. However, eligibility alone does not result in a conditional hardship license. To be granted this license, a judge or magistrate must issue an order after the motorist demonstrates a “need” for the license.

The hardship license law requires motorists to demonstrate a “need” for a hardship license. Hardship licenses will generally be granted to those who can prove they need a hardship license to drive to work, job training, school, necessary medical appointments, therapy appointments, and/or any other valid reason approved in advance by the judge.
In order to receive a hardship license, individuals will have to submit a sworn affidavit to the judge, detailing their need for a hardship license. Some judges may also require a hearing, during which the motorist must testify regarding their need.

Motorists who are charged with a Chemical Test Refusal at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal will typically receive a preliminary order of suspension, suspending their license during the pendency of their case. A 2016 amendment to the conditional hardship license law extends to drivers with preliminary license suspensions. These drivers can operate a motor vehicle with a hardship license, so long as an ignition interlock device is installed and they show a valid “need” to drive.

Once your request for a hardship license is granted, you must go to the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and speak with a hearing officer within the Operator Control Department.

You must provide the following documentation:

  • A copy of the court order granting you a conditional hardship license
  • An installation certificate for an ignition interlock device

Then, you must pay a $100 administrative fee to Operator Control.

Finally, you must turn in your Rhode Island driver’s license to receive your new conditional hardship license. Your Rhode Island driver’s license will now have two restrictions: a “Y” designation for a hardship license and a “U” designation for an ignition interlock device. The DMV will issue you a temporary/paper copy of your new license, with a hard copy to be mailed to your home.

You must go back to the DMV to change your license status. Once the hardship period has ended, you will be entitled to reinstate your license.

As a result, you will be required to:

  • Pay all fines associated with your DUI / Refusal to the appropriate court
  • Complete community service and provide documentation on the organization’s letterhead
  • Complete DUI school and/or alcohol counseling and provide documentation
  • Pay a reinstatement of license fee of $352.50 to Operator Control

Once Operator Control confirms that you are eligible for reinstatement, you will once again receive a new temporary license because the “Y” designation will be removed.

Please note, if you are required to maintain the ignition interlock device in your vehicle for a period of time longer than the hardship license period, you will still have the “U” designation on your license. At the end of the interlock period, you will have to see the DMV for removal of the “U” designation, so that you may return to an unrestricted license. At that time, the DMV will review your driving record and your compliance with the ignition interlock order to ensure that you demonstrated behavior that warrants the reinstatement of your license.

Have further questions? Get started by sharing them in a free case evaluation!

Aggressive Representation for Providence, Warren and all of Rhode Island

Much like a breathalyzer, an ignition interlock system requires a driver to blow into a device wired to the vehicle’s ignition. If the system detects alcohol on the operator’s breath, the vehicle will not start.

Our Rhode Island ignition interlock system lawyers have the knowledge and experience to explain each and every legal option you have in your pending DUI and/or refusal case. Since ignition interlocks are mandatory in some situations, it is best to contact an experienced DUI law firm to help you navigate this new law.

Questions about DUI or ignition interlock devices? Call us at (401) 245-5100 or read below.

Whether or not a driver will be required to install an ignition interlock system on their vehicle depends on what they have been charged with.

An ignition interlock system is discretionary for the following offenses:

  • First DUI Offense (.08- .1 BAC)
  • First DUI Offense ( BAC of .1-.15 or unknown)
  • First Chemical Test Refusal Offense

An ignition interlock system is mandatory for the following offenses:

  • First DUI Offense with a BAC of .15 or above
  • Second / Third DUI Offense
  • Second / Third Chemical Test Refusal Offense

While an ignition interlock system seems like just another hurdle or penalty to some, others may actually benefit from its installation. When you have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, your lawyer can pursue a reduced license suspension and/or a hardship license. In either a DUI or chemical test refusal case, the judge may decide to reduce the mandatory license suspension by imposing an ignition interlock system, allowing you to get your license back sooner.

The specifics are listed below:

  • First DUI Offense: License suspension may be reduced to a minimum of 30 days with the installation of an interlock system for a period of 3 months to 1 year.
  • First Refusal Offense: License suspension may be reduced to a minimum of 30 days with the installation of an interlock system for a period of 6 months to 2 years.
  • Second DUI Offense: License suspension may be reduced to a minimum of 45 days with the installation of an interlock system for a period of 6 months to 2 years.
  • Second Refusal Offense: License suspension may be reduced to a minimum of 60 days with the installation of an interlock system for a period of 1 to 4 years.
  • Third DUI Offense: License suspension may be reduced to a minimum of 60 days with the installation of an interlock system for a period of 1 to 4 years.
  • Third Refusal Offense: License suspension may be reduced to a minimum of 90 days with the installation of an interlock system for a period of 2 to 10 years.

Remember, a reduced license suspension is discretionary. It is essential that you hire an experienced Rhode Island DUI ignition interlock system attorney who can negotiate with the prosecutor and judge for a reduced suspension.

Once the ignition interlock system is installed, the law requires drivers to meet these requirements:

  • Proof of installation and periodic reporting required for verification of proper operation.
  • The ignition interlock must be monitored for proper use and accuracy by a person, firm, corporation or other association approved by the RI DMV at least 1 time every 6 months.
  • The defendant must pay cost of leasing or buying, monitoring, and maintenance of the system.

It is important to keep in mind that a driver will also be required to pay $100 to the Division of Motor Vehicles as a fee for having an ignition interlock device.

While you will be entitled to drive, your driver’s license will be “restricted.” Once you are ordered to install an ignition interlock device, you must proceed to the DMV, where you will be required to turn in your driver’s license. You will then be issued a temporary license with a “U” designation for an ignition interlock restriction. A permanent copy of your new restricted driver’s license will be mailed to you.

At the end of the interlock period, you will have to see the DMV for removal of the “U” designation, so that you may return to an unrestricted license. At that time, the DMV will review your driving record and your compliance with the ignition interlock order to ensure that you demonstrated behavior that warrants the reinstatement of your license.

A person found to be tampering with, circumventing, or otherwise misusing an ignition interlock system will be charged with a misdemeanor. This offense can bring up to $1,000 in fines and / or one year imprisonment. Whether you have been accused of tampering with an ignition interlock or want to find out if getting one installed is in your best interest, contact our experienced DUI ignition interlock system attorneys at Abilheira Law, LLC.

Operating on a Suspended License

A person found to be operating outside of the parameters of their hardship license (such as driving outside of the allowed twelve (12) hour window or to a location not listed) could be charged with operating on a suspended license under Rhode Island General Law § 31-11-18.1.

A first offense alone can result in a misdemeanor charge, carrying a minimum mandatory 10 days behind bars, $500 in fines, and an additional 3-month license suspension. A second offense can carry 6 months to a year in jail, a $500 fine, and an additional 6+ month license suspension. Any subsequent convictions after a second one will lead to a felony charge and minimum one-year imprisonment.

If you have been charged with operating on a suspended license, call the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Abilheira Law today, (401) 245-5100.