Rhode Island’s Underage DWI Laws

How Rhode Island’s drunk driving laws apply to drivers who are under 21 years old and the consequences of an underage DWI.

Under Rhode Island law, it's illegal for drivers who are younger than the legal drinking age (21 years old) to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02% or more. Here are the consequences a driver faces if convicted of an underage DWI offense.

Underage DWI Penalties

The penalties for an underage DWI offense depend on the circumstances and the driver's age. For drivers who are at least 18 but younger than 21 years old, having a BAC of .02% or more will result in the following penalties:

  • First offense. For a first violation, the driver will be looking at a fine of up to $250, 30 hours of community services, and a one- to three-month license suspension.
  • Second or subsequent offense. For a second or subsequent violation, the driver will be looking at a fine of up to $250, a $300 assessment fee, 60 hours of community services, and a three- to six-month license suspension.

For drivers who are younger than 18 years old and are caught operating a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more, the following penalties apply:

  • First offense. For a first violation, the driver will generally be looking at an assessment fee of $150 and a license suspension of six to 12 months.
  • Second offense. For a second violation, the driver faces an assessment fee of $150 and license suspension until reaching the age of 21.
  • Third offense. For a third or subsequent violation, the driver must pay the $150 assessment fee and will have his or her license suspended until reaching the age of 23.

Underage drivers who refuse to take an alcohol test in violation of the state's implied consent laws might face different, and in many cases, more severe penalties.

When Underage Drivers Face Standard DWI Penalties

Underage drivers who are at least 18 years old and are caught operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or more or while under the influence of (impaired by) drugs or alcohol face the standard DWI penalties. Depending on the circumstances, someone convicted of a standard DWI could be looking at fines, jail time, and license suspension.

For drivers who are under the age of 18 and charged with a standard DWI offense, the penalties are somewhat different. These underage offenders face the following consequences:

  • First offense. For a first violation, the driver will generally be looking at ten to 60 hours of community services, an assessment fee of up to $500, and a license suspension of six to 18 months.
  • Second or subsequent offense. For a second or subsequent violation, the offender is facing an assessment of up to $500 and license suspension until reaching the age of 21.

Again, cases involving refusal to submit to chemical testing might carry different and more severe consequences.

Talk to an Attorney

Regardless of the charge, it's always best to talk to an experienced DWI attorney if you've been cited for driving under the influence. A qualified lawyer can tell you how the law applies to your situation and help you decide on the best course of action.

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