Rhode Island DUI Laws

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Rhode Island DWI laws (also known as DUI laws) state that any driver over the age of 21 cannot be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and/or have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Commercial drivers cannot exceed 0.04%, and minors cannot exceed 0.02%.
More than 10,000 people are killed on the road every year due to drunk driving crashes in the U.S.
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a dangerous crime, and penalties will vary by state. Even for a first-time offense, drivers will shell out up to $10,000 in fines and legal fees—and it will definitely affect your car insurance rates as well.
That’s why the car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry has compiled everything you need to know about DUI laws in Rhode Island.
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What is a DWI?

A DWI means driving while intoxicated or impaired, while a DUI refers to driving under the influence.
Each state determines the difference between these two charges, but Rhode Island uses "DWI" in its state laws.
A DWI charge could mean that the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even if the drugs weren’t illegal—you can get a DWI charge from prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs if they make you impaired.
In some states, the charges are OUI (operating under the influence) or OWI (operating while intoxicated).

DWI in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, it is illegal to operate a vehicle if you are "under the influence" of drugs or alcohol. In this case, being "under the influence" means that you are incapable of operating a vehicle safely.
It is also illegal to operate a vehicle if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of:
  • 0.08% or higher if you’re 21 or older
  • 0.04% or higher if you’re a commercial driver
  • 0.02% or higher if you’re under the age of 21
You can also be convicted of a DWI for driving with any trace of a controlled substance in your blood, even if it doesn’t impair your ability to drive.
Rhode Island, like every state, has an implied consent law, which stipulates that drivers consent to be tested if they are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
If you are lawfully arrested for a DWI, you must submit to a breath, blood, or urine test.
If you refuse testing, the DMV will revoke your license for at least 6 months, and you’ll have to pay a fine of $200 to $500 and complete up to 60 hours of community restitution.
For subsequent refusals, you will face up to one year in jail, as well as higher fines, a longer license suspension period, and an increase in your community restitution hours.

Penalties for DWI in Rhode Island

If you are convicted of a DWI in Rhode Island, you will be required to complete a DWI class, as well as a treatment program. You will also have to pay a highway safety assessment fee, totaling $500, on top of your penalty fine.
Additional penalties are determined based on your BAC level, the presence of drugs in your system, and the number of prior offenses on your record.
DWI convictions in Rhode Island remain on your record for 5 years.
For the purposes of the following chart, "Category One" refers to offenders with a BAC of at least 0.08% or any trace of a controlled substance in their blood.
"Category Two" refers to offenders who had a BAC of at least 0.15% or were under the influence of a controlled substance while driving.

First offense

PenaltyCategory OneCategory Two
Fine$100 to $400$500
JailUp to 1 yearUp to 1 year
License suspension1 month to 1 year3 to 18 months
Community restitution10 to 60 hours20 to 60 hours
Ignition interlock device (IID)3 months to 1 year3 months to 1 year
Vehicle impoundmentNoNo
SR-22 requirementNoNo
If you plead guilty to the DWI charge and demonstrate a need to keep driving (i.e. to work or to school), a judge may grant you a hardship license, which you can use during your suspension period, as long as you install an IID on your car.

Second offense

PenaltyCategory OneCategory Two
Fine$100 to $400$500
JailUp to 1 yearUp to 1 year
License suspension1 month to 1 year3 to 18 months
Community restitution10 to 60 hours20 to 60 hours
Ignition interlock device (IID)3 months to 1 year3 months to 1 year
Vehicle impoundmentNoNo
SR-22 requirementNoNo

Subsequent offenses

A third or subsequent offense is upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony in Rhode Island.
PenaltyCategory OneCategory Two
Fine$100 to $400$500
JailUp to 1 yearUp to 1 year
License suspension1 month to 1 year3 to 18 months
Community restitution10 to 60 hours20 to 60 hours
Ignition interlock device (IID)3 months to 1 year3 months to 1 year
Vehicle impoundmentNoNo
SR-22 requirementNoNo

Underage DWI penalties

Drivers under 21 with a BAC between 0.02% and 0.08% may receive a different penalty than those listed above.
For a first offense, underage drivers are subject to a $250 maximum fine, 30 hours of community service, a license suspension of one to three months, mandatory attendance at a DWI class, and DWI treatment.
For a second offense, underage drivers are subject to a $250 maximum fine, 60 hours of community service, a license suspension of three to six months, mandatory attendance at a DWI class, DWI treatment, and a highway reassessment fee of $300.
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Does a DWI impact car insurance in Rhode Island?

Yes. Insurance companies take DWI convictions very seriously, and you’ll be classified as a high-risk driver going forward. This means that your auto insurance rates will increase.
It can be hard to find affordable insurance with a DWI on your record, so you’ll probably need to look at a number of different providers to find the right policy.
Jerry can quickly compare rates from up to 50 top insurers so that you don’t have to spend time completing online forms and dealing with sales calls.

Other effects of a DWI

Besides conviction penalties and higher insurance rates, DWIs can impact your life in other ways.
License suspension: After getting a DWI, you will have your license revoked, especially if you have multiple DWIs or a more severe conviction.
Ignition interlock device (IID): These devices stop you from starting your car if you have any alcohol on your breath. If you get a DWI in Rhode Island, you may be required to install an IID on your vehicle in exchange for a shorter license suspension period.
Background checks: DWIs appear on background checks, which could hurt your job prospects in the future.

How to find cheap insurance after a DUI

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