Warwick DUI Lawyer

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Warwick DUI Attorney

When you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s important to realize that there may be some different options available to you, and there are a number of different ways that your case may be resolved. If you want to really understand what you’re facing, know what your options are, and get an honest explanation of where things stand, you need to work with the right Warwick DUI lawyer.

At Ellison Law LLC, we have represented thousands of clients who are facing all manner of criminal charges. Our range of experience has given us a deep understanding of the legal process from a hands-on perspective.

We can recognize what our clients can reasonably expect in a given situation and know how to put together the strongest case. However, it’s our goal to make sure that our compassion and respect for our clients is the focus of handling every case. We want to meet your needs as much as we can.

What Could Happen After Receiving DUI Charges?

While going to trial is one possible outcome of a DUI charge in Warwick, RI, some other potential pathways are moving forward, depending on the specifics of the situation. There’s a chance, though rare, that the charges are dropped.

This could be because of a pre-trial motion or the prosecution realizing that they lack enough evidence. There is also a possibility of charges being reduced or negotiating a plea deal for lesser charges or penalties. Working with a Warwick DUI lawyer can help you understand the full scope of what may happen with your charges.

How Is a DUI Established in Rhode Island?

To determine if a driver is operating their vehicle under the influence, officers first try to identify whether a driver has a lack of control of their vehicle. This is recognized through behaviors like speeding, reckless driving, weaving the vehicle across lanes, or some kind of traffic violation. Once they’ve pulled over the driver, they will look for signs of intoxication in their interaction, such as slurred speech, the odor of alcohol, or anything else indicating that the driver is drunk.

Officers may then choose to administer a standardized field sobriety test, of which there are three approved by the National Highway Safety Administration. These are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test – This test involves assessing a driver’s eyes as they follow a pen or other object that the officer is moving.
  • One-Leg Stand – This test involves counting while standing on one leg. This is a means of determining the driver’s ability to accomplish both mental and physical tasks at the same time.
  • Walk-and-Turn Test – The suspect must, heel-to-toe, walk in a straight line and then back.

If, after a field sobriety test, the officer believes that there is reason to suspect that the driver is intoxicated, they may issue a preliminary breath test. This test is not necessarily as accurate as others because it is not subject to the same certifications and calibrations. However, failing it may be considered, along with the prior facts, as probable cause to arrest the driver.

After an arrest, the driver is usually brought to the station and given a breathalyzer test on an approved breathalyzer machine. Because these machines are regularly calibrated and tested by the Department of Health, the results from these machines are more likely to be accurate and admissible in court as evidence.

What Does Implied Consent Mean in a DUI?

It’s important to realize that Rhode Island is an implied consent state. What this means is that drivers on Rhode Island roads have, by virtue of their use of the roads, consented to a chemical test of blood, breath, or urine. Refusing to take a test when requested can result in penalties.

For a first offense of failing to consent, you might receive the penalties of:

  • A license suspension of between six months and a year
  • An ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for a period of time determined by the court
  • A fine of $200-$500
  • 10-60 hours of community service
  • Mandatory attendance of a course on driving while intoxicated

The penalties will increase for repeat offenses, so if you have had one or more refusals in the previous five years, you could receive:

  • Up to six months in jail for a second offense and up to a year for any subsequent offenses after that
  • An increased license suspension or period of time with an ignition interlock device
  • Increased fines
  • Increased community service time

A refusal to take a test does not guarantee that you may not also receive DUI charges. However, there are times when it may make sense to not take a breathalyzer test. You should communicate with your Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer before deciding, if possible.

What Is Considered a DUI in Rhode Island?

There are a few different ways that someone may be considered guilty of a DUI in Rhode Island. However, the most frequent form of violation involves whether a person’s blood alcohol content, or BAC, is above a particular threshold. This is usually determined by using a chemical test, typically a breath test, although urine and blood are possibilities.

When someone’s BAC is above the relevant threshold, it is considered a “per se DUI,” meaning that the actual level of impairment is irrelevant to the matter of guilt. The conduct that can lead to DUI charges in Rhode Island include:

  • Having a BAC of 0.08% or higher
  • Operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or higher
  • Driving under the influence of any alcohol, drug, or controlled substance
  • Having any amount of controlled substances, whether illegal drugs or marijuana, in your blood

What Are the Penalties for a DUI in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island penalizes a DUI in different tiers based on the BAC of the convicted driver and on the number of offenses that the driver has been convicted of in the previous five years.

A first offense could be a misdemeanor criminal conviction. Regardless of BAC level, the convicted party could face fines and fees, enrollment in DUI school, and/or enrollment in alcohol counseling. They may also face:

  • BAC Unknown – Up to one year in jail, a license suspension between three and twelve months, and 10 to 60 hours of community service
  • BAC Between .08% and .10% – Up to one year in jail, a license suspension between one and six months, and 10 to 60 hours of community service
  • BAC Between .10% and .15% – Up to one year in jail, a license suspension between three and twelve months, and 10 to 60 hours of community service
  • BAC Over .15% – Up to one year in jail, a license suspension between three and twelve months, and 20 to 60 hours of community service

A second offense could also be a misdemeanor conviction. Those convicted, regardless of BAC, could be required to complete alcohol or drug treatment, pay fines and fees, and have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. Additionally, they could be penalized:

  • BAC Between .08% and .15% – A minimum of 10 days and up to one year in jail, along with a license suspension between one and two years
  • BAC Over .15% – A minimum of six months and up to one year in jail, along with a license suspension of two years

A third DUI offense within five years could result in a felony conviction. Any BAC level could result in significant fines and fees, alcohol or drug treatment, and the installation of an ignition interlock system in the convicted driver’s vehicle. It could also result in:

  • BAC Between .08% and .15% – A minimum of one year in jail and up to three years, along with a license suspension between two and three years
  • BAC Over .15% – A minimum of three years in jail and up to five years, along with a license suspension of three years

A DUI conviction could also carry repercussions that extend beyond the legal penalties. You may end up with a criminal record, which shows up on background checks. This could lead to difficulty when applying for certain jobs, seeking credit, pursuing advanced education, and engaging in other aspects of your life.

What Does a Warwick DUI Lawyer Do?

A DUI lawyer is responsible for a number of things when involved in your defense. In particular, there are likely going to be some different options and choices available to you throughout the process.

Understand Your Case

That’s why, at Ellison Law LLC, we place such an emphasis on good communication with our clients. We want to be sure that you’re well-informed throughout the process. While representing you, it’s imperative that we understand what you’re seeking. As your lawyer, we also focus on listening as well so that we can understand how to represent you in a manner that aligns with your objectives.

Our process will often begin with needing to understand the full scope of the situation that led to your arrest. That will give us the opportunity to understand the case that the prosecution will try to make and what options there are for defending you. We can gather whatever evidence that we can that may be useful in arguing in our defense.

Conduct Pre-Trial Motions and Negotiations

Before a trial happens, there are a few critical things that happen. On the one hand, there is trial preparation, but on the other, there may be plea deal negotiations. For some, a plea deal is going to be the option that makes the most sense or fits their objective. If that’s the case, we can see if we can work with the prosecutor to negotiate a plea that is as minimally disruptive to your life as possible.

There may also be a number of pre-trial hearings, which is when we have the opportunity to file any motions. For instance, we could attempt to get the case dismissed if there were sufficient grounds to make that argument. Of particular importance in a DUI claim is challenging what evidence may be considered admissible. There are some situations where key evidence being ruled inadmissible could lead to a significantly better plea offer or a case even being dropped by the prosecution.

Represent Their Client in a Court Trial

There will be, though, some for whom a plea deal isn’t going to be an option, or perhaps they haven’t received the deal they’re willing to accept. In some circumstances, the option that aligns with your objectives will be trying to defend against the charges in a trial. If that’s where we end up, we can be prepared to take that path.

Before the trial, we can use the information and evidence in your case to craft a defensive strategy that makes sense for you. We can then call on our experience with courtroom trials to ensure that you have a thorough defense. In court, we can put forth a formidable argument on your behalf.

What Are Some Defenses Against DUI Charges?

DUI cases rest heavily on the evidence gathered at a traffic stop. However, all that evidence must be collected according to proper procedure, and there must be a sufficient cause for each step. In many cases, a defense against DUI charges will be based on examining whether these procedures were followed correctly and whether the officer was justified in their actions. For instance, some of the circumstances to look closely at include:

  • Was there a good cause to have pulled the vehicle over in the first place, such as a traffic violation?
  • Was the officer right to ask the driver to exit the vehicle?
  • Were the field sobriety tests conducted according to procedure, and how did the driver perform?
  • Was the breath test administered properly?
  • Was the driver informed of their rights appropriately?

In particular, challenging the tests that were administered can be an effective means of defending against DUI charges. That includes both the field sobriety test and the breath tests. The field sobriety test could be in question if the officer failed to provide proper instructions or if there was an issue with their assessment. Additionally, outside factors, like weather, clothes, your health, and road and traffic conditions, could have affected your performance.

Breath tests, both the preliminary test and the breathalyzer, could be subject to their own scrutiny. It’s possible that the results of the test could be inadmissible or doubt could be cast on them based on a variety of factors, including questions of general accuracy, particularly the preliminary test.

For the breathalyzer machine test given after an arrest, it’s important that the proper record for the maintenance and testing of the machine be available, or the results may be inadmissible.

Can a DUI Be Expunged or Sealed?

Having a DUI on your record can have a number of negative consequences for a person, as it may show up on background checks and hurt their ability to advance in their career, seek higher education, or even get a loan. A DUI can be either sealed or expunged. A lawyer can identify whether you qualify for either option and help you through the process of filing the necessary motions if you do.

The criteria to get your Rhode Island DUI sealed are:

  • Having been charged with a DUI
  • The charges resulting in an acquittal or some other form of exoneration
  • The DUI charges having been dismissed
  • Fully satisfying any of the court-related fines, assessments, or other requirements

The criteria for getting a DUI expunged in Rhode Island are:

  • You have a first-time misdemeanor conviction on DUI charges (those convicted of felony charges will not be eligible).
  • At least five years have passed since the completion of your sentence, and you have not been in legal trouble for the last five years.
  • There are no criminal charges or proceedings pending against you.
  • You can demonstrate having exhibited good moral character.
  • You have fully satisfied any fines, assessments, or other court-imposed penalties.

The process of getting the DUI sealed or expunged depends on making a strong case for having met all the qualifications. A Warwick DUI attorney can help ensure that this is done properly on your behalf.

A Warwick DUI Lawyer Who Can Defend You

At Ellison Law LLC, our aim is to listen to our clients and understand what they need. We recognize how stressful, frightening, and overwhelming it may feel to be faced with DUI charges. We understand the range of outcomes that a DUI case may have based on the evidence available and the avenues for defending against the charges.

If your situation is one where the quick resolution of a plea deal, which may avoid the most significant consequences, is going to be ideal for you, then we are prepared to try to negotiate the optimal deal for you. On the other hand, if going to court and challenging the prosecution’s case is the most effective option, we are prepared to make the strongest argument we can before the court.

As your Warwick DUI lawyer, we put a focus on compassion, respect, and dignity. Having represented thousands of clients, we understand the struggle and emotions that you’re going through. We realize you need someone who’s going to be honest with you and sensitive enough to understand how you’re handling the situation. Contact us to discuss your situation and how we may be able to represent you.


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