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Drunk Driving Defense

Judges Hammer



Drunk and/or drugged driving is referred to as DUI (driving under the influence) in Rhode Island. This is a very serious charge and not taken lightly by prosecutors and judges who wish to keep the public safe from traffic accidents. 

Like most states, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) while operating a motor vehicle in Rhode Island is .08 percent. If your BAC measures that amount, you are considered legally impaired and will automatically be charged with DUI. However, you can also be charged in other circumstances, such as with testimony by the charging police officer that you were “under the influence” of any drug or alcohol regardless of your BAC or with any amount of a controlled substance in your system.

At The Law Office of Brtt V. Beaubien, our Providence DUI defense lawyers can defend you against all DUI charges. It is important to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. This can involve pleading guilty, pleading no contest, or being found guilty at trial. We recommend that you do not plead guilty until you have spoken with Attorney Beaubien who can assess your case and advise you on where you stand and how he can help. Many avenues of investigation into your charges can be explored that could uncover flaws and weaknesses in the state’s case against you. Only a well-trained criminal defense attorney will know what to look for and how to devise an effective defense strategy that could result in avoiding or minimizing the consequences.

Arrange for a free case review with our Providence drunk driving defense attorney at The Law Office of Brett V. Beaubien by contacting us online or at (401) 246-8579 today. Hablamos español. Also serving clients in Bristol County, Attleboro, Norfolk County, Providence County & throughout Rhode Island & Massachusetts.

Person Sitting By The Wheel With A Beer


How you are charged for drunk and/or drugged driving will depend on several factors. These can include: 

  • Your BAC level
  • Whether it is your first or a repeat offense
  • If you were involved in a traffic accident
  • If you caused an injury
  • If you caused a death
  • If you have a high number of previous moving violations

For example, in the first offense with a BAC ranging from .08 percent up to .10 percent, you will face:

  • Jail time of up to a year
  • Fines and fees of up to $800
  • 10 up to 60 hours of community service
  • Loss of your license for 30 up to 180 days
  • Potential completion of a driving school program and/or an alcohol treatment program

If your BAC measured between .10 to .15 percent, you would face the same penalties as above except your license suspension will be extended to three up to 12 months and the driving school/alcohol treatment will likely be mandatory. For those whose BAC measured above .15 percent, fines, and fees will likely increase to over $1,200. 

Second, third, and subsequent offenses will increase your penalties. In addition to these penalties, your auto insurance premiums will likely spike and you will face the burden of having a permanent criminal record. 


Being charged with a DUI is a serious matter as a conviction can have lasting consequences. The chances of defending against a DUI charge in Rhode Island depend on several factors. However, the most important factor is how quickly you can get an experienced DUI defense lawyer from Providence involved in your case. Hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can make a huge impact on the case. They understand the challenges of defending DUI charges.

Probable Cause

A DUI lawyer in Providence Rhode Island can use a probable cause defense against DUI charges. For a police officer to pull over a vehicle, they must have probable cause. This means that there should be a solid reason or suspicion to believe that the driver or passengers in the vehicle have committed a crime. In DUI cases, the police officer must have reasonable belief the driver is drunk. For example, if you are driving erratically or swerving across the road, that is enough probable cause for a police officer to stop you.

If a DUI defense lawyer can prove that there wasn’t probable cause to stop you, then the case may be dismissed. Checking if probable cause can be used as a defense strategy is one of the first things to examine in any DUI case.

Field Sobriety Tests

Issues with the administration of field sobriety tests are a common defense against DUI charges. Field sobriety tests are used to identify drunk drivers at the traffic stop. However, there is a standard procedure to administer the field sobriety test. If this procedure is not followed, it can invalidate the findings of the tests. Rhode Island DUI lawyers are familiar with the procedure and protocol of field sobriety testing, and they can identify any issues to use as a defense against the charges. An experienced DUI lawyer can challenge the subjective nature of the test, the credibility of the law enforcement officer who administered it, and/or the accuracy of the results.

Miranda Warning

If you get arrested for drunk driving, the police officer is required to provide you with a Miranda warning, which is a type of notification given by police to criminal suspects advising them of their rights. If the police did give a Miranda warning, it can invalidate any statements you made to the police.

Rising Blood Alcohol Level

In some cases, criminal defense attorneys can use rising BAC levels to defend against DUI charges. To use this defense, your legal team will have to prove that your BAC level was actually under the legal limit at the time of driving, and had gone above the legal limit at a later stage. The BAC level tends to rise slowly over time. This defense is most useful if the prosecution is relying on BAC tests that were done after some time had passed since the traffic stop.

A toxicology expert can perform analysis on available evidence to help determine your BAC level at the time of the arrest. If the expert testimony is in your favor, you can use this as part of the evidence to strengthen your case.



How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Cost In Rhode Island?

The cost of hiring a DUI Lawyer in Rhode Island depends on several factors. There is no standard rate for such cases. The biggest factor in determining the cost is the complexity of the case. In some cases, there are additional charges with DUI, making them significantly more complex. Similarly, if the case goes to trial, it adds additional expenses.

Apart from the legal fees, you can expect a DUI case to result in other expenses. This includes towing fees or storage charges for a severely damaged vehicle. An increase in insurance premiums as a result of the DUI incident. The rise in insurance premiums could impact you for the next several years. You may also be required to pay for DUI classes, which can be around $350. Other potential expenses include license reinstatement fees and costs for ignition interlock devices. 

What Happens With the First Offense DUI in RI?

According to Rhode Island DUI law, all categories of DUI convictions are serious offenses. With a first-offense DUI in Rhode Island, you could face 30 to 180 days license suspension, $100 to $300 fine, 10 to 60 hours of community service, up to one year in jail, and/or alcohol or drug treatment classes. Penalties for a first-offense DUI in RI can be worse if the BAC level is higher. For example, if the BAC is 0.10, it can result in longer license suspension and more fines. DUI defense lawyers in Rhode Island can guide you more on what to expect from your first DUI offense in Rhode Island. 

What Happens if You Refuse a Breathalyzer in RI?

A preliminary breathalyzer test requires the driver to blow into a device (a portable breathalyzer) while still at the scene of the traffic stop. The device calculates the BAC level, and this helps law enforcement officers decide whether they should arrest the driver for a DUI. In some cases, a preliminary breathalyzer test is followed by a breathalyzer test at the police station after being arrested. 

The driver has the right to refuse the breathalyzer test. However, doing so can lead to automatic suspension of the driver’s license, community services, and fines. Rhode Island follows the law of “implied consent” for breathalyzer tests. When you apply for your driver’s license in the state, you are automatically consenting to take a breathalyzer test. If you refuse to take the test, the law enforcement officer should inform you of the penalties for doing so. 

The breathalyzer refusal for a first offense is a civil matter, whereas a DUI is a criminal offense. 

Is a DUI a Felony in RI?

In most cases, a DUI charge is not a felony. The majority of DUI convictions in Rhode Island result in a misdemeanor. The legal difference between a felony charge and a misdemeanor is the length of a maximum imprisonment sentence that can be imposed if the charge results in a conviction. A misdemeanor charge in Rhode Island carries a maximum jail sentence of one year. 

There are some cases where a DUI offense is considered a felony. This requires aggravated circumstances, typically where the accused has a history of DUI-related charges. If the DUI led to personal injury or wrongful death, then there is a higher likelihood that the DUI will be considered a felony offense. 

All DUI charges in Rhode Island should be taken seriously. Even with a misdemeanor charge, you could face some serious repercussions, including a criminal record, which directly impact your future employment, housing, and educational opportunities. 

If no agreement can be reached between the parties, the case moves to trial. A typical DUI trial is short and only lasts for a couple of days. The trial can have a judge or a jury to render the verdict. The prosecutor and the defendant are allowed to present their case. For a DUI conviction, the prosecutor has to prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A trial can add extra time and costs to the case. However, it might be best to take the case to trial if you are not getting a fair plea deal from the prosecution. 

You should discuss all your legal options with a Rhode Island DUI lawyer. If your case is weak, you might want to consider entering into a plea bargain with the prosecutor. On the other hand, if you have strong evidence to support your case, you can be more confident of going to trial to defend against the charges.


If you have been charged with a DUI, you are undoubtedly concerned with fees, license suspension, and potential jail time. If your license has been suspended, we will work aggressively to get you a hardship license if one is necessary for you to get to work, school, or medical appointments. If you are faced with fines that you cannot pay, our DUI attorneys will advocate on your behalf to get them lowered. If the results of your breathalyzer were shown to be inaccurate or faulty, or if the arresting officer did not follow protocol, we will work to have the charges against you thrown out. We are also experienced in using other types of legal defenses in criminal defense cases involving driving under the influence. 

Give us a call or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Rhode Island DUI lawyers today.

Contact The Law Office of Brett V. Beaubien today to get started with our Providence appeals attorney.