Rhode Island First-Offense DWI

The fines, jail, and license-related penalties resulting from a first-offense DWI in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island defines “driving while intoxicated” (DWI) (also referred to as “driving under the influence” or “DUI”) as operating a vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater (.04% or more if the driver was operating a commercial vehicle)
  • while “under the influence” of any alcohol, drug or controlled substance, or
  • with any amount of a scheduled controlled substance (illegal drugs) in the blood.

A number of factors can affect sentencing. But this article addresses the minimum and maximum penalties and consequences for a first DWI in Rhode Island. A DWI is a first offense in Rhode Island if the driver has no prior DWI convictions within the past five years.

Criminal Penalties

Depending on the driver’s BAC and whether drugs were found in the driver’s system, a first DWI conviction will fall into one of three penalty categories. Based on the circumstances of the case, the judge will determine a sentence within the parameters of the proper category.

BAC of at least .08% but less than .10% or presence of drugs

BAC of at least .10% but less than .15%

BAC of .15% or greater or under the influence of drugs

Jail

Up to 1 year in jail

Up to 1 year in jail

Up to 1 year in jail

Community Service

10 to 60 hours

10 to 60 hours

20 to 60 hours

Fine

$100 to $300

$100 to $400

$500

Rehabilitation and Education

DWI class

DWI class

DWI class or treatment

License Suspension

30 to 180 days

3 to 12 months

3 to 18 months

Regardless of BAC, motorists who are caught driving while intoxicated with a passenger under the age of 13 face up to one year in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine, up to a two-year license suspension, and substance abuse treatment.

All DWI violations require a $500 highway safety assessment fee and may require a $200 chemical testing fee.

DWI offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of the offense are looking at a six to 18-month license suspension but are exempt from any jail requirement.

Driver’s License Suspension

While DWI convictions result in license suspension, a person who’s convicted of a DWI may be permitted to drive with certain restrictions during the suspension.

Ignition interlock devices. The judge can order the driver to install and use an ignition interlock device (IID). The IID will be required for six months to two years, but doing so will reduce the suspension period to only 30 days.

Hardship licenses. If “just cause” is shown and the driver pleads guilty, the judge can grant a temporary restricted license. This hardship license allows the driver to operate a vehicle for work, school, or treatment purposes. This license is effective during the suspension period and requires the use of an IID.

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