Rhode Island DUI Basics
In the state or Rhode Island operating under the influence charges can
be prosecuted in two ways. The first of these ways is through
intoxication. When an individual operates a motor vehicle under the
influence he or she can be charged with impairment. Impairment charges
state that an individual is too impaired either physically or mentally
to drive safely.
The prosecuting attorney will provide evidence before the court to
prove the charges. Evidence normally includes physical appearance,
field sobriety testing, blood alcohol content levels, driving patterns,
chemical testing, and others. However an individual can have a blood
alcohol content level that exceeds the legal limit and still not be
impaired. Impairment can also include impairment by drugs -- both legal
and illegal -- as well as a combination of drugs and alcohol.
An individual can also be prosecuted under per se charges. Per se
charges state that an individual drove while having a blood alcohol
content level above the national legal limit of 0.08 percent. The
prosecution will provide an individual's blood alcohol content level
before the court as evidence. This kind of prosecution is based on an
individual's body chemistry rather than whether or not he or she is
physically or mentally capable of driving.
In the United States when an individual obtains a driver's license, he
or she gives common consent to submit to chemical testing when
requested. Chemical testing includes breath testing, urine testing, and
In Rhode Island when an individual refuses to submit to chemical
testing, when requested by a police officer, he or she will be brought
on criminal charges. These charges exist outside of operating under the
influence charges. The consequences for refusing chemical testing
include driver's license suspension, community service, fines, and
alcohol education courses. When an individual is brought before the
court under operating under the influence and refusal charges, the
court will most often assume the individual is guilty because of test
The severity of an individual's operating under the influence
conviction is based on his or her criminal history and prior drunken
driving offenses. However Rhode Island has a washout period after five
years where any offense that took place five years or more cannot be
used as a prior offense.
A majority of the time driving under the influence charges are
considered misdemeanor offenses, until a third offense occurs in a
five-year time period. After this time the driving under the influence
charge becomes a felony offense.
A first offense can increase, whether or not an individual has prior
offenses or not, if he or she has a blood alcohol content twice the
legal limit. Convictions can include alcohol education course
attendance, driver's license suspension, community service,
incarceration, fines, and ignition interlock devices.
Aggravating factors can also increase an individual's sentencing.
Aggravating circumstances includes having a minor in the motor vehicle,
driving over the speed limit, cause another injury, causing another
death, and having a high blood alcohol content level. Aggravating
factors can increase charges exponential, even upon a first offense.