A second-offense DWI (driving while intoxicated)—also known as "DUI" (driving under the influence)—conviction in Rhode Island generally results in jail, a fine, and driver's license suspension. A DWI is considered a second offense in Rhode Island if the driver has one prior DWI conviction within the last five years.
This article discusses the minimum and maximum possible penalties (and the controlling factors) of a second DWI conviction in Rhode Island.
The judge has the discretion to issue a sentence based on the circumstances of the DWI but must stay within the parameters. These parameters are broken into two categories.
BAC under .15%. The first category is for drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .08% but less than .15% (find out about how many drinks it takes) or who had the presence of illegal drugs in their blood. These offenders will be subject to:
BAC of at least .15%. The second category is for drivers with a BAC of .15% or greater or who were driving while under the influence of (in other words, impaired by) drugs. These offenders will be subject to:
The potential penalties for a second offense are more severe if the driver had a passenger under the age of 13 at the time of the offense. Regardless of the reported BAC, the violation becomes a felony and the driver will face up to five years in jail, a $1,000 fine, a two-year license suspension, and substance abuse treatment.
All DWI violations require the driver to pay a $500 highway safety assessment fee.
Offenders who are under the age of 18 will have their license suspended until they are 21 years old and will have to complete one year of the Rhode Island driver training school in lieu of jail.
While driver's license suspension is mandatory, alternative options are available. For eligible drivers, the judge can order the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for a period of six months to two years. By doing this, the judge can reduce the actual suspension—the period of time the motorist can't drive at all—down to only 45 days.