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Felony Driving Under the Influence in Rhode Island

Posted by Ken Barrett | Dec 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

Drivers operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% are guilty of DUI. Although, the state does not permit “sobriety checkpoints”, law enforcement is preparing for aggressive enforcement in 2018. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates show 30% of first-time offenders are charged with DUI again. Rhode Island has a law that charges certain multiple DUI offenders with felony charges.

Rhode Island Habitual Offender Laws

The law defines habitual offenders as having multiple DUI convictions within a three-year period or three convictions including:

  • Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter while operating
  • Operating with a license that is suspended or revoked
  • Providing false information in traffic offenses
  • Leaving the scene of an auto accident injury
  • Failing to report an accident involving a vehicle that is unattended when damages exceed $150

Felony DUI

Individuals convicted of a third DUI within five-years with a BAC between .08% and .15% are guilty of a felony. Penalties include a $400 fine, a two to three year license suspension and one to three years in jail. Those whose BAC exceeded .15% face fines between $1,000 and $5,000, a three year license suspension and three to five years in prison. Courts have the discretion to seize offender vehicles, require individuals to undergo treatment for alcohol or drugs, and have ignition interlock devices installed on vehicles.

“Drugged” Driving

Drivers operating with controlled substances in their bloodstream are guilty of a misdemeanor DUI for first-offenses and subject to the same laws governing alcohol for subsequent offenses. There is no allowable defense for those legally prescribed these drugs for medical purposes. The Controlled Substances Act defines controlled substances as those within the federal schedule I through V classifications. These drugs may endanger public health, are often abused, or have the potential for dependency (addiction).

Test Result Admissibility

Evidence obtained from testing is admissible if conducted in compliance as follows:

  • The defendant submitted to testing voluntarily; if they refused, this evidence is admissible if the defendant testifies in the action.
  • The law enforcement agency administering the breath test mailed a copy of the test results to the defendant within 72 hours or within 30 days for blood or urine tests.
  • Testing was compliant with procedures and equipment specified by the Director of Health.
  • Equipment for the breath testing was calibrated within the last 30 days.
  • The defendant had the opportunity for alternate or additional tests conducted at that time.

Importance of Experienced Legal Representation

When facing a DUI charge, there is a great deal at stake. Your driver's license may be suspended, which may create problems with current and future employment opportunities. Other concerns include jail time, fines, probation-related costs, higher insurance premiums and much more. It is critical to retain legal representation that understands the ways these cases are prosecuted in Rhode Island and can provide you with an aggressive defense that challenges the evidence and protects your rights.

About the Author

Ken Barrett

Attorney Kensley Barrett is a skilled criminal defense lawyer with a proven track record in handling a wide range of cases in Rhode Island. Known for his strong background in trial advocacy and negotiation, Barrett is dedicated to providing personalized and effective representation for his clients. Recognized as a "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers and with a 10.0 "Superb" rating on Avvo, he consistently achieves successful outcomes, including acquittals, dismissals, and reduced charges.


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Kensley Barrett

Our law firm was founded on the belief that working with us is more than just hiring a lawyer. Working with us will bring you peace of mind and also allow you to continue with your regular life while we attend to your legal matters. Our vast experience means that it allows us to excel in both aggressively representing your interests and generating the best possible result for you.