When you’re arrested for DUI, your life seems to change in the blink of an eye. Suddenly, everything from your driver’s license to your personal relationships is at stake—all because you made a simple decision to get behind the wheel.
But there are steps you can take to minimize the fallout and keep your life from getting derailed.
You see, you have quite a bit more power and choice in how your case proceeds than you might realize. When you understand the DUI case process in Rhode Island, you can make informed decisions about your case and avoid major mistakes that can negatively impact the outcome.
How Does the DUI Arrest Process Work in Rhode Island, from the Initial Step to Potential Charges?
The initial step of the DUI arrest process in Rhode Island is that a police officer has reasonable suspicion you’ve committed a criminal or traffic offense and pulls you over. Even if you’re pulled over for something unrelated to a suspected DUI, the officer can choose to issue field sobriety tests.
And thanks to a recent change, if another motorist calls 911 to report you driving erratically, that statement alone gives police enough reasonable suspicion to stop you for a suspected DUI.
Once you’ve been arrested for the DUI offense, you’ll be taken to a police station by law enforcement officials. Here, you undergo the booking process, where your fingerprints, photo, and personal info are recorded.
Anything you say or do during this time can be used against you in court, so it’s crucial to remain calm.
Next is your arraignment, a court hearing where the exact charges against you are formally announced. You’ll be asked to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Having a skilled, aggressive Rhode Island DUI attorney by your side at this stage is key for ensuring your rights are protected and you make an informed decision.
What are the Potential Consequences of Refusing to Take a Chemical Test During a DUI Stop in Rhode Island?
If you refuse to take a chemical test during a DUI stop in Rhode Island, you risk these potential consequences:
- Mandatory enrollment in a drug and/or alcohol treatment program
- Mandatory enrollment in a drug and/or alcohol abuse reeducation course
- Up to 60 hours of community service
- A $200 chemical testing fee paid to the Department of Health
- A $500 highway safety assessment fee
- Additional fines ranging between $200 – $500
- Your license will be suspended for at least six months, up to one year
These penalties exist due to Rhode Island’s Implied Consent Law.
By simply operating a motor vehicle in the state of RI, you’re giving your consent to chemical tests of your saliva, breath, blood, or urine to check for the presence of alcohol and/or drugs.
The DUI Case Process in Rhode Island After You’ve Been Charged
After you’ve entered your plea during the arraignment, one or several pre-trial conferences take place. These meetings allow both sides to exchange information about the case, try to negotiate a plea agreement, and coordinate details like witness testimony.
The pre-trial conference stage can be pivotal for the outcome of your case. An experienced Rhode Island DUI attorney will use this time to get a sense of how strong the prosecution’s evidence is and advise your defense strategy.
If needed, your attorney will also file motions and attend motion hearings to challenge specific evidence belonging to the prosecution. If, for example, any evidence against you wasn’t gathered legally, your lawyer can file a motion to have it excluded from the trial.
And the less evidence the state can use against you, the more likely you are to win a positive outcome.
Your case may be resolved during pre-trial conferences. But if not, the next step is the trial itself. Both sides will present their arguments and evidence before the judge and/or jury. Anytime you or the prosecutors call a witness, the other side will get the opportunity to cross-examine.
If you’re found not guilty, the charges against you are dismissed and you can move on with your life. If you’re found guilty, you’ll proceed to sentencing.
The judge is required to weigh the severity of your crime against the possible penalties according to RI law, and personal details like your criminal record.
Finally, you may have the right to appeal your DUI conviction to a higher court. This court reviews your trial for any legal errors or violations. If they find any were committed, you may be given a new trial or even have the charges against you dismissed.
What is the Timeline for a Typical DUI Case from Arrest to Resolution in Rhode Island?
The timeline for a typical DUI case from arrest to resolution in Rhode Island is around 45 to 60 days. But you should also know that most DUI cases don’t actually go to trial—they’re resolved by being dismissed or by reaching a plea agreement.
Basically, in our 25+ years of experience successfully defending clients facing Rhode Island DUI charges, we’ve seen that every case is different.
When you choose the law office of John E. MacDonald to represent you, we’ll advocate aggressively on your behalf to win the best possible outcome. This means your case may take more or less time than the average stated above.
What are the Potential Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Rhode Island?
- First DUI: License suspension up to 18 months, $100 – $500 in fines, up to one year in jail
- Second DUI: License suspension up to two years, $400 – $1,000 in fines, 10 days up to one year in jail
- Third DUI: License suspension for at least two years, $400 – $5,000 in fines, one up to five years in jail
- First breath/chemical test refusal: 10 – 60 hours community service, $200 – $500 in fines
- First DUI under the age of 21: License suspension for six up to 18 months, 10 – 60 hours community service
- First DUI with BAC of .15% or higher: License suspension up to 18 months, $500 fine, up to one year in jail
And keep in mind that here in RI, DUI penalties depend on your BAC, past arrests on your criminal record, and whether anyone was seriously injured in the accident. Hiring an experienced, focused Rhode Island DUI attorney is always your best path toward mitigating these penalties.
We Have 25+ Years of Experience Providing Aggressive Legal Defense You Can Count On
Our Rhode Island DUI attorney John E. MacDonald has spent the past 25 years aggressively defending and winning favorable outcomes for clients facing DUI charges in Rhode Island. Even if you’re charged with the most serious DUI offenses, we can represent you and advocate zealously on your behalf.
And we’re always here for you—twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Whether you email our office late in the evening or need to urgently speak with us on a weekend, we understand that things happen outside of normal business hours.
If you or a loved one are facing DUI charges in Rhode Island, contact us or call (401) 421-1440 as soon as possible.
The sooner you book your free initial consultation, the sooner we can start building a strong, custom defense strategy to protect your future.