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Understanding the Ignition Interlock and Hardship Licenses in Rhode Island

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) is one of the most common crimes in the State of Rhode Island. That is because people make mistakes, and they mistake their level of impairment or their ability to drive. However, most people, lawyers included, do not fully understand the crime of driving while under the influence or how being convicted of a DUI can affect their lives. For instance, most people assume that they will automatically lose their license for a long time because they have been charged with a DUI. While that may be true in certain situations, that is not always the case. For example, many people are not aware of Hardship Licenses. Hardship Licenses are given out under special circumstances while someone's license is suspended because of a DUI or Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test. However, acquiring a Hardship License can be complicated and has a particular process. Therefore, if you are facing a license suspension due to a DUI or Refusal, you can contact an experienced Rhode Island DUI Attorney to help. The Law Office of David Ellison has experienced Rhode Island Criminal Defense attorneys with years of criminal defense experience representing people with DUIs and Refusals.

WHAT IS A HARDSHIP LICENSE IN RHODE ISLAND?

A Hardship License is a conditional license that allows you to drive for a 12-hour period each day. However, that person can only drive during that time for the purposes of driving to and from work, school, medical appointments, and other approved purposes. In addition, to the conditions that the person only drives during a 12-hour period for approved purposes, they must also install an ignition interlock system in their vehicle. 

WHAT IS AN IGNITION INTERLOCK SYSTEM IN RHODE ISLAND?

An ignition interlock device also referred to as a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device, is a device that requires a person's breath sample before that person can start their car. It is a device slightly larger than a cell phone and is connected to your vehicle and wired directly to the ignition. It is installed in a vehicle to measure the amount of alcohol in a person's breath. A driver must breathe into the device before driving, and if the Ignition Interlock Device registers the presence of alcohol over the legal limit, the car will not start. If the Ignition Interlock Device registers alcohol under the legal limit, the car can be started but with one caveat: a recorded warning is issued. Additionally, while driving, the device will require you to periodically stop your car and submit additional breath samples to ensure that there is no alcohol in your system while you operate your vehicle.

WHEN CAN SOMEONE GET A HARDSHIP LICENSE?

When someone has been convicted of a DUI or Refusal to Submit to a Chemical test, they will most likely be sentenced to a license suspension. However, the law that outlines those sentences also states that a judge, in both situations, may impose a license suspension with a hardship license and the installation of an ignition interlock system. In addition, you may be able to get a hardship license on the preliminary license suspension for Refusal Submit to a Chemical Test. 

DOES IT COST MONEY TO GET A HARDSHIP LICENSE?

            Yes, the DMV imposes a $100.00 fee as an ignition interlock fee. This is in addition to any costs associated with the installation of the ignition interlock that would be paid to the company that installs the ignition interlock. There is also an additional monthly charge to maintain the interlock system with the private company that monitors the ignition interlock system. 

WHAT ARE THE LAWS FOR A HARDSHIP LICENSE IN RHODE ISLAND? 

You can read more about the hardship license laws here: § 31-27-2.8. Ignition interlock system and/or blood and urine testing imposed as a part of sentence — Requirements.

You can read more about a hardship license and ignition interlock system on the DMV's website here: DMV's web page on Hardship License/Ignition Interlock

WHAT INFORMATION IS RECORDED AND REPORTED IN AN IGNITION INTERLOCK?

For your own information, it is good to know what information is or can be recorded and reported. Typically, reported information is pursuant to each Ignition Interlock Device program but may include any of the following:

  • Date and time of each startup or rolling test
  • Location of the vehicle at the time of each test, if equipped with a GPS
  • A photo of you at the time of each test, if equipped with a camera
  • Pass or fail results
  • BAC reading for each test
  • Number of lockouts, if any
  • Indication someone else tried to take the breath test
  • Any tampering with or removal of the IID
  • Missed service visits

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I WANT A HARDSHIP LICENSE?

            As mentioned above, acquiring a hardship license is a very complicated and a particular process. Therefore, even if you are not sure if you are eligible for a hardship license, you should get legal assistance. Thus, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorney. The Law Office of David Ellison has experienced DUI lawyers who can look at the facts of your case and come up with the best strategy for you. You can contact the Law Office of David Ellison for legal representation today at (401)-230-5520.

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