Rhode Island DUI Lawyer

In Rhode Island, whether you are charged with a DWI ticket (driving while intoxicated), DUI (driving under the influence), operating while intoxicated (OWI), or operating under the influence (OUI) – you are being accused of driving or operating a vehicle while impaired by the use of an illegal substance. DWI or OWI charges refer specifically to alcohol impairment with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, while DUI or OUI could also mean impairment by prescription or illegal drugs. Regardless of the substance that has caused your impairment, the consequences of a conviction can be dire.

Substance-impaired driving is illegal and dangerous, and Rhode Island takes impaired driving very seriously. You can lose your driving privileges, which hinders your freedom and your ability to get to work. You’ll also have to pay fines and restitution to anyone whose property or person has been damaged as a result of your impaired driving. It is therefore in your best interests to fight against being convicted and to keep your driver’s license with the help of an experienced and dedicated Rhode Island DUI attorney.

The Traffic Stop

A police officer can’t just stop you randomly; at least not legally. However, if the officer has observed certain indications that you might be “under the influence,” he or she may pull you over. These are some observations that might precipitate a traffic stop:

Being able to prove that you were pulled over without probable cause may be a defense if you are charged with DUI.

The Field Sobriety Test

The police office will ask you if you’ve been drinking, a question to which you should decline to respond (unless the honest answer is “no”), and then will usually ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. These tests will typically consist of you being instructed to:

These tests concern your ability to follow instructions along with your ability to actually do them. You are not legally required to take a field sobriety test, but you may be arrested because of your refusal.

Breath and Chemical BAC Tests; Rhode Island’s Implied Consent Law

You will be asked to blow into a device that will measure your blood alcohol content and/or submit to blood or urine chemical tests. Do you have a legal right to refuse? Yes; you have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The question is whether it will be to your advantage. Because of Rhode Islands Implied Consent law, obtaining and using a driver’s license means that you agree to be tested for blood alcohol content. You can refuse a breathalyzer, but by law, your license will be administratively suspended. Your refusal can also be presented as evidence against you in court, and while it is possible to defend against a refusal suspension, it is difficult.

You stand a better chance of keeping your driving privileges and beating the DWI charge if you submit to the breathalyzer, even if you fail. There are numerous defenses that can be raised in your behalf by a DWI attorney who understands the law and has the experience and strategic ability to invalidate the test results and keep you from being convicted on this serious and life-damaging charge.

Defenses to DWI Charges

Attorney Stephanie A. Murphy will conduct a close examination of the manner in which the test was given to determine where the officer may have deviated even slightly from proper procedure, and will raise questions as to the accuracy of the test, based on the age and maintenance of the equipment. Possible defenses include:

Rhode Island DWI Penalties

A DWI charge in Rhode Island is subject to two separate proceedings: administrative, by the Department of Motor Vehicles, and criminal, which is handled by the court system.

Administrative Penalties

For a first DWI offense, administrative penalties include:

Criminal Penalties

These are the penalties for an adult’s first DWI in Rhode Island that did not result in injury or death. A prior DWI conviction within the past five years will usually result in enhanced criminal penalties. A court may also require an ignition interlock system as a condition of reinstatement of your license if you have prior convictions.

DWI charges that are the result of an accident which caused serious injury or death are dealt with seriously in Rhode Island, with significantly enhanced penalties. These are the penalties for a first offense DWI resulting in an injury or fatality:

DWI causing serious injury:

DWI fatality:

Prior convictions involving injury or death will result in enhanced penalties.

Hardship License

If your license has been suspended, and it is your first or second offense, you may be eligible for a conditional hardship license to be able to work, go to medical or therapy appointments, attend school or job training, or go to the grocery store. You would still:

Having a Rhode Island DUI lawyer to present your case to the judge or magistrate will make it more likely that you will be granted a hardship license and that the hardship license carries the fewest restrictions.


DUI Myths

Myth: One drink will impair your ability to drive.
Truth:Drivers with low blood alcohol content are no more likely to have an accident than totally abstinent drivers.

Myth: Blood alcohol content is a reliable measure of impairment behind the wheel. 
Truth: At any given BAC, frequent drinkers are less impaired than teetotalers.

Myth: Breathalyzers are a consistent and reliable measure of impairment. 
Truth: BAC levels and impairment are highly variable from individual to individual.

Myth: Lowering BAC limit to .08will get “drunks” off the road. 
Truth: Typical DUI arrests are of individuals with a BAC over .15.

Contact our Dedicated Rhode Island DUI Attorney

If you have been accused of DWI in Rhode Island, you are facing the possibility of serious disruption to your life, your freedom, your ability to provide for yourself and your family, and a loss of reputation in the community, as well as incurring financial hardship as a result of fines, fees, and other expenses.

It happens too often that people assume there is nothing to do but plead guilty and accept the consequences if they have failed a breathalyzer test, but DUI criminal charges are subject to a very high standard of proof, and there are many ways to fight them successfully. If you or someone you love are facing DUI charges, call our experienced Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephanie A. Murphy. Your initial case consultation is free, and easy payment plans are available.