Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime. If a person is caught driving under the influence (DUI) or, as it’s more commonly called in Rhode Island, driving while intoxicated (DWI), they can face serious penalties. At the Law Office of Jay Bianco, our DUI/DWI lawyers can represent you if you’re facing criminal charges. Reach out to our team today to learn more.
Defining Driving While Impaired in Rhode Island
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is defined in Rhode Island statutes section 31-27-2. The statute reads that any person who “drives or otherwise operates any vehicle in the state while under the influence” of an impairing substance, including alcohol, liquor, drugs, or any controlled substance is committing a crime.
Keep in mind that this definition does not include a specific blood alcohol concentration amount; rather, it merely states that driving under the influence is a crime. Indeed, driving under the influence is a misdemeanor offense in Rhode Island.
The statute continues to read that any person who submits to a blood or breath alcohol test and has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or more shall be guilty of a violation of the law against driving while under the influence. In other words, while a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent is not necessary to convict someone of a DUI/DWI charge, such a concentration of alcohol in the blood serves as a presumption of guilt.
Penalties for a DUI/DWI Offense in Rhode Island
As stated above, a first-offense DUI/DWI in Rhode Island is a misdemeanor crime. As such, the conviction of a misdemeanor in Rhode Island can result in up to one year in jail, between 10 and 60 hours of community service, a fine of up to $300, a license suspension of up to 180 days, and mandatory attendance at a DWI rehabilitation and education class.
If a person’s BAC was greater than .10 percent but less than .15 percent, the fine and the period of license suspension may both be enhanced for a first offense. For a BAC of above .15 percent, the license suspension period may be as long as 18 months, and the fine as much as $500.
Being convicted of a DUI/DWI offense a secondary or subsequent time results in greater penalties, including up to three years imprisonment for a third-time offense, as well as a license suspension period of between two and three years. A third-offense DUI with a BAC of .15 or above can result in an imprisonment period of up to five years.
Submitting to a Blood or Breath Alcohol Test
As alluded to above, one of the ways that the prosecution will try to secure a conviction against a defendant accused of driving under the influence is by presenting evidence to the court of the defendant’s BAC at the time of stop and arrest. If the BAC was .08 percent or above, the prosecution will have a much easier time proving guilt and securing a conviction.
As such, one of the ways to weaken the prosecution’s case before it even begins is refusing to submit to a blood or breath alcohol test. Without the results of a blood or breath alcohol test, the prosecution will have a much more difficult time proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, refusing to submit to a blood or breath alcohol test does have consequences, and may not always be the recommended course of action.
Per section 31-27-2.1 of our state’s code, refusal to submit to a chemical test–which is a breach of one’s implied consent–will face a fine of 200 dollars, 10 to 60 hours of mandatory community service, and a license suspension of six months to one year for a first offense. Second- and third-offense violations are punished more harshly.
Defenses to a DUI/DWI Charge
The potential of jail time, mandatory community service, a license suspension, and a large fine can be a major inconvenience in one’s life. More than this though, being convicted of a DUI/DWI can be emotionally straining and a stain on one’s permanent record, making it more difficult to obtain certain employment types and pursue other opportunities, and potentially affect the outcome of a family law case (if relevant to the defendant). In some cases, being charged with a DUI could also result in the revocation of a professional license.
If you are facing DUI/DWI charges in Rhode Island, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side who can advocate for you. Attorney Jay Bianco will help you to understand your options, including that of pleading ‘not guilty’ and defending yourself against charges. Potential defenses include:
- Illegal stop
- Improperly obtained evidence (i.e. improperly administered roadside sobriety test)
- Lack of BAC information
- Faulty breathalyzer/improper blood alcohol testing and
- Lack of knowledge of impairment (i.e. unknowingly consumed alcohol or used a medication with impairment side effects without knowledge of such effects).
If the prosecution has evidence against you, our goal is to make sure that the evidence was lawfully obtained and, if it was not, to ensure that it is withheld from court and not used against you. If conviction seems imminent, we can work with you to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution and minimize charges against you or the sentence you face.
Call the Law Office of Jay Bianco Today for Help with Your DUI/DWI Criminal Defense Case
If you are facing DUI/DWI charges, you are probably scared and nervous about what will happen – a DUI/DWI conviction can change your life.
While navigating the process can be challenging and confusing, one of the best things that you can do is to call an experienced criminal defense lawyer who works on DUI/DWI cases. At the Law Office of Jay Bianco, our DUI/DWI attorney in Providence has the experience and case history you can trust. If you are facing charges, reach out today online or by phone to schedule a consultation (401) 272-5509.