Drunk Driving Penalties in Rhode Island

Drunk Driving

Drunk Driving Penalties in Rhode Island

There are countless heartbreaking stories out there about losing a loved one due to the negligence of a drunk driver. Legislators in Rhode Island are taking note of the staggering number of deaths and injuries that result from drunk driving and hope to find a solution to help save lives.

Deaths from Drunk Driving

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that a staggering amount of alcohol-related deaths occur each day. In fact, their findings state that drunk driving claims a life every 51 minutes. One of the ways to combat these deaths is to enact stricter laws to prevent individuals from making the dangerous decision to drink and drive.

Drunk Driving Penalties jail time

Drunk driving laws differ from state to state. In Rhode Island, first-time offenders over the age of 21 who drive with a blood alcohol level between 0.08% and 0.10% can face up to a year in jail in addition to other fines and penalties. If the drunk driving results in a crash causing severe injury, the intoxicated driver can face up to 10 years in prison. If the accident results in death, the maximum penalty increases to 15 years in prison.

Rhode Island’s Stance Against Drunk Driving.

Rhode Island takes a hard stance against drunk driving. The state’s stringent laws and penalties are based on age and blood alcohol content (BAC) levels.  The state defines driving while intoxicated (DWI) as any driver with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. The law is less tolerant for drivers under 21 years old who can be charged with DUI – driving under the influence – for a BAC between 0.02% and 0.08%.

A charge of DWI or DUI that results in serious injury or the death of someone is considered a felony.

Under the Implied Consent laws in Rhode Island; if you operate a vehicle in the state you are giving consent to chemical blood alcohol content (BAC) test. If the results of this test show at or above the legal limit you can be charged with a DWI or a DUI. In the case of an accident that results in serious injury or death, law enforcement can deny a driver’s right to refuse a BAC.

Refusing a Chemical test

If you refuse to take a BAC test you will still face penalties under the Implied Consent laws. A first offense can include these penalties:

  • Driver’s license suspension by the RI DMV for 6 months.
  • Community service.
  • Drunk driving school or alcohol treatment program.
  • Fines.
  • Highway safety assessment fee.

Penalties for Refusing a Chemical Test

In addition to the penalties listed below, you also face the possibility of a Highway Safety Assessment fee of $500, a $200 assessment fee for the Department of Health Chemical Testing Program, and possible enrollment in a driving school and/or an alcohol treatment program.

1st offense as an adult (18 years old and over):

  • Fine: $200 to $500.
  • Community Service: 10 to 60 hours.
  • Suspended license: 6 months to 1 year.

1st offense under 18 years old:

  • Fine: $200 to $500.
  • Community Service: 10 to 60 hours.
  • Suspended license: 6 months.

2nd and subsequent offenses for refusing a chemical test include jail time, higher fines, mandatory ignition interlock device, and other serious penalties. These penalties apply to driver’s of all ages.

Penalties for DUI

Those under 21 years old can be charged with “driving under the influence” DUI as they are under the legal drinking age in Rhode Island. This charge is used with underage people who have a BAC of 0.02% and 0.08%. For a first offense the penalties are:

  • Suspended license: 6 to 18 months.
  • Community service: 10 to 60 hours.
  • Highway Safety Assessment: $500.

It is also important to note that transporting alcohol, whether with an open container or not, or simply being in possession of alcohol, is against the law. Either of these charges will cause a suspension of your license even if you are not driving at the time of the charge.

Penalties for DWI

The penalties for a DWI charge can vary greatly and will depend on number of offenses, BAC level, age and whether the charge was the result of an accident or injury. Below is listed the penalties for a 1st offense. 2nd and subsequent offenses within 5 years, or 1st offenses with higher a BAC, can result in lengthier jail time, higher fines, longer license suspension and more community service.


Find Legal Help.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, you should first seek immediate medical treatment.  Then, you may want to have a lawyer review your case to help you understand what your next steps should be.  Getting legal help can put your mind at ease and let your focus on getting better.  Rob Levine & Associates are experienced in personal injury cases in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.  Our team is available 24/7 to help you.  Contact us at 888.533.7507


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