Frequently Asked Questions RI Criminal & DUI Laws
- How much will it cost to hire a top criminal defense / DUI lawyer?
- Am I facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge?
- Should I Refuse to take a Breath or Blood Test if I am asked to do so by the police?
- Does Rhode Island have a provision for a “hardship” license if my license has been suspended for a DUI or other driving infractions?
- What is the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content in Rhode Island?
The answer really depends on the seriousness of the charges, and the complexity of the case, so there is no one answer. When I speak to you and review your case, I’ll make an assessment as to how much work will be involved in case preparation, and how many court dates it will take to resolve.
I do charge flat fees, so that way you’ll know up front what your case will cost, with no hidden surprises or extra expenses. And I’ll quote you a fee during our consultation, so you can make the decision at that point.
Some lawyers who don’t handle many criminal cases would probably charge you less than I will. I’m confident I can make a compelling case that when you’re facing the prospect serious criminal penalties and a record that will follow you for the rest of your life, you’ll want someone with the right experience and proven results, on fighting on your side.
A: It depends on the crime, or if you are charged with a 2nd or subsequent offense. For example, a DUI charge is a misdemeanor for a 1st or 2nd offense, but it is a felony for a 3rd offense on greater.
Most crimes are misdemeanors. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor charge in Rhode Island is 1 year in jail and a $1000 fine. There are also “petty misdemeanors” with a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail, and a $500 fine, although there is little practical difference.
Felonies have much more severe penalties which often include mandatory jail or prison time if found guilty. A felony charge is punishable by a fine of over $1000, and a year or more in jail.
There is also a minor category of offenses called “violations”, which are minor offenses such as traffic tickets. There is no possibility of jail time, and the maximum fines are less than $500.
This is a difficult question to answer. For a first offense breath test refusal, you will automatically face a 6-month driver’s license suspension for refusing to agree to a breathalyzer/breath test.
However, if you can manage for 6 months without your driver’s license, and if it is a first offense DUI charge, you will often get a deal from the prosecutor to dismiss the criminal charge of the DUI in exchange for pleading guilty to the civil charge of refusing the breath test.
A dismissal of the criminal charges is a very good outcome for most people since it means you don’t have a criminal record.
If you choose to fight your criminal DUI charge in court, the fact that you refused the breath test will not be admissible in court. There will be no mention a the breathalyzer/chemical/breath test in your trial.
Q: Does Rhode Island have a provision for a “hardship” license if my license has been suspended for a DUI or other driving infractions?
A: No, there is no hardship or limited work license issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles (RI DMV). Your best bet is to challenge the license suspension at a hearing, within 30 days of the offense. This hearing is critical to your chance to maintain your right to drive. Contact me immediately for help on how to save your license.
A: The legal limit for alcohol that allegedly indicates impairment is .08% blood alcohol content. In most cases, it is measured by breathalyzer, which is technically BrAC or Breath Alcohol content, which has a formula of equivalence to a direct blood test if administered properly. They can also test your blood directly if you are hospitalized, such as can happen as the result of an accident.
A chemical or breath test result over .08 BAC may make your case harder to win in court if the prosecutor is able to provide breathalyzer evidence as part of the case.
If you are under the legal drinking age of 21, the you are facing penalties for drunk driving if you score a BAC above .02%. This is known as a “zero tolerance” law. Many people will blow a .02% after only one drink, especially if you are small.
If you register above a .15 BAC, you will face enhanced penalties for a high BAC under Rhode Island drunk driving laws. See my DUI laws & penalties page for more info.
If you’ve been accused of drunk driving in the state of Rhode Island, call me know for a free drunk driving defense consultation. Even if you failed a breath test or chemical test with a BAC over .08, there are still a number of defenses that are possible. But you must act quickly to preserve all your defense options. Call me now for a free consultation and I’ll let you know exactly what we can do to beat your case.