Rhode Island DWI Laws and Penalties

The definition of “driving while intoxicated” and penalties for a DWI conviction in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island prohibits a motorist from operating a vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater,
  • while under the influence of any controlled substance, drug, or alcohol, or
  • with any bodily content of a scheduled controlled substance (illegal drugs).

However, the penalties a driver faces depend, in part, on which of the three types he or she is convicted of.

Rhode Island DWI Penalties

When a person is convicted of a DWI, the judge has the discretion to determine the penalties but is required to stay within certain ranges that are established by law. Theses ranges relate to the number of prior DWI offenses the driver has within the past five years, the driver’s BAC, how impaired the driver was, and whether the DWI involved drugs.

For drivers found guilty of driving with a BAC of .08% or greater or with any amount of illegal drugs in their system will be subject to the following penalties:

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

Up to 1 year

10 days to 1 year

1 to 3 years

Fines

$100 to $400

$400

$400

License Suspension

30 days to 12 months

1 to 2 years

2 to 3 years

For drivers who had a BAC of .15% or greater and who were under the influence of (impaired by) a controlled substance, the following increased penalties apply:

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

Up to 1 year

6 to 12 months

3 to 5 years

Fines

$500

$1,000 minimum

$1,000 to $5,000

License Suspension

3 to 18 months

2 years

3 years

Ignition Interlock Devices

For certain drivers, the judge can order the use and installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). The installation of the IID may be a burden, but it can greatly reduce the suspension period. Here are the IID and suspension periods for a first, second, and third offense:

  • First offenders. Suspension is reduced to a 30-day minimum with a three-month to one-year IID requirement.
  • Second offenders. Suspension is reduced to a 45-day minimum with a six-month to two-year IID requirement.
  • Third offenders. Suspension is reduced to a 60-day minimum with a one to four-year IID requirement.

Hardship licenses

A hardship license may be available for first-time offenders who plead guilty and show a need for transportation. The license requires an IID, but allows the driver to operate a vehicle for work, school, or treatment purposes during the suspension period.

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