Rhode Island DUI Laws and Penalties [2024 Updated]

Rhode Island DUI Laws and Penalties [2024 Updated]

There are specific Rhode Island DUI laws and penalties that might differ from other states. DUI penalties largely depend on factors like a person’s blood alcohol level and how many DUIs they have committed within the past five years. For more information on what penalties you might face for your DUI charges, contact a DUI attorney.

What Is a DUI?

In Rhode Island, you cannot drive with a blood alcohol content at or over 0.08% if you are over 21. If a police officer has reason to believe that you are driving over the legal limit, then they are able to pull you over and request that you take certain tests. These tests can include field sobriety tests that involve performing physical actions in front of the officer. The officer can also request chemical tests like the breathalyzer and other blood alcohol content tests be taken at a police station.

If you are charged with a DUI, the exact penalties for your charges mostly depend on your exact blood alcohol content level and how many DUIs you have received in the past. If your BAC is over 0.15%, you can expect to face increased penalties with a conviction.

First Offense DUI

If an individual is convicted of a first-time DUI, then they are usually sentenced to the following punishments:

  • Jail Sentence: up to 12 months
  • Fines: $100-$400
  • License Suspension: 1 month to 12 months
  • Attendance in an approved counseling or education class about drugs and/or alcohol

If your BAC is greater than 0.15%, then the fines and license suspension times can increase. The first DUI offense is typically considered a misdemeanor unless there are others who were injured or died as a result of driving under the influence.

Second Offense DUI

The charges for a second DUI are similar to the first, and both are considered misdemeanors, but the penalties for the second are slightly more severe. They include things like:

  • Jail Sentence: 10 days to 12 months
  • Fines: $400
  • License Suspension: 1 year to 2 years

There is a minimum of a six-month jail sentence and $1,000 in fines if your BAC is found to be 0.15% or more.

Third Offense

A third DUI offense within a five-year time frame is a felony. Felony convictions come with additional consequences, like eliminating your right to vote, owning a gun, and limiting your access to employment, schooling, and housing. Other punishments include:

  • Jail Sentence: 1 year to 3 years
  • Fines: $400
  • License Suspension: 2 years to 3 years

Charges for 0.15% and greater BAC levels increase the fine to a minimum of $1000 and the jail time to 3-5 years.

Hardship Licenses

In some cases, individuals convicted of a DUI still need to drive in order to maintain employment. In these cases, hardship licenses are occasionally available if the individual needs to drive to attend work, rehabilitation services, or classes. Sometimes, the court will grant them a hardship license, but only if they install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle. It is possible for the installation of an IID to reduce the length of time a license is suspended.

An IID requires the driver to take a breath test every time they use the vehicle. If their blood alcohol content level is over the legal limit, then the engine will not start. The amount of time an individual needs to have an IID installed depends on how many DUI offenses they have committed, but it usually ranges from three months to four years.

Hardship licenses are not granted to everyone who applies. Some drivers might not qualify. There are also extra fees associated with the installation and maintenance of an IID. To learn more about your eligibility for an IID and how much the process might cost, contact a DUI attorney.


Q: What Is the Most Common Sentence for a DUI?

A: The most common sentence for a DUI includes some form of jail time, a driver’s license suspension, and attendance in a mandated drug or alcohol education or counseling program. Other common punishments include things like fines, community service, and being required to install an ignition interlock device onto your vehicle. The exact amounts for sentencing or fees depend on how many other DUIs you have committed in the past.

Q: What Is the Legal Limit for Drunk Driving in Rhode Island?

A: The legal limit for drunk driving in Rhode Island is 0.08%. This means that an individual must have a blood alcohol content level of 0.07% or lower to avoid receiving DUI charges. However, individuals under the legal drinking age of 21 can be charged with a DWI even if they are below the 0.08% limit. Separate DWI charges apply to drivers with a 0.02%-0.08% BAC level if they are under 21.

Q: What Is the Most Common Penalty for a First Time Conviction of a DUI?

A: Generally, the most common penalty for a first time DUI conviction includes as much as 12 months of jail time, up to a $400 fine, and getting your license suspended for up to 12 months. If your blood alcohol content level was found to be at least 0.15%, then harsher charges apply, which involve higher fines and longer suspension times for your driver’s license. A DUI attorney can work to make these punishments as light as possible.

Q: What Are the Potential Outcomes of a DUI?

A: The potential outcomes for DUI charges include a conviction, plea agreement, or dismissal. If you are convicted, this means that a court finds you guilty of a DUI, and you face all the punishments associated with the crime. In some cases, an attorney can make an argument on your behalf to get your DUI charges reduced in a plea deal or even dismissed. They might be able to claim that due to certain circumstances of your arrest, the charges were assigned incorrectly.

Get Help Navigating Your Case

DUIs often come with serious penalties that can severely impact the ability to live your life as you choose. Working with a DUI lawyer who’s knowledgeable in Rhode Island DUI law can help argue in support of reduced charges for your case, depending on the context of your situation. The attorneys at Ellison Law LLC have helped countless people with their Rhode Island DUI charges and offer unique support for every client.

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