Ignition Interlock Laws in Rhode Island
Rhode Island driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws require courts to sentence offenders using a combination of fines, jail time, suspension of driving privileges and ignition interlock device (IID) requirements. The offender is responsible for any and all costs associated with the IID, including installation, monthly lease fees, service fees and removal. Other costs may be imposed by the service provider. Offenders who are sentenced with an IID requirement must obtain the IID from a service provider that is certified by the State of Rhode Island.
The IID is a small device that is connected to the vehicle’s ignition system. The driver is required to blow into the device to submit a breath sample. The IID measures the alcohol content of the breath sample and compares it to a pre-set limit. If the breath sample indicates an alcohol level that is above the pre-set limit, the IID prevents the vehicle from starting. IIDs require drivers to submit random breath samples while operating vehicles. If a “rolling re-test” results in a breath alcohol content that is above a pre-set limit, the IID initiates an alarm sequence that includes sounding the vehicle’s horn and flashing the vehicle’s lights. The alarm sequence continues until the driver turns off the vehicle or submits a clean breath sample. In some situations, the IID initiates a permanent lockout phase during which the vehicle cannot be started under any circumstances. The vehicle must be towed to the service provider to have the permanent lockout released. The offender is responsible for any and all costs associated with the permanent lockout, including towing and fees imposed by the service provider.
A first-time DWI conviction in Rhode Island may result in the suspension of driving privileges. Cases involving a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 to less than 0.10 result in driving privileges being suspended for a period of 30 to 180 days. First-time convictions involving BACs of 0.10 to less than 0.15 result in the suspension of driving privileges for a period of three months to one year. For BACs of 0.15 or higher, first-time convictions result in the suspension of driving privileges for a period of three to 18 months.
Repeat offenders are required to install IIDs after paying fines, serving jail time and completing mandatory suspensions of their driving privileges. The time period of the IID requirement begins after all other sentencing requirements are met. by the offender. For the second violation within five years of a previous conviction, the sentencing is dependent upon the offender’s BAC at the time of arrest. If the offender’s BAC is 0.08 to less than 0.15 at the time of arrest, the offender is required to pay a fine of $400, serve ten days to one year in jail and serve a mandatory suspension of driving privileges for one to two years. The offender is required to install and maintain an IID for a period of two years. For a second offense involving BACs of 0.15 or higher, the offender must pay a minimum fine of $1,000, serve six months to one year in jail and complete a mandatory two-year suspension of driving privileges.
Third and subsequent DWI convictions are felonies in Rhode Island. Offenders must pay fines up to $5,000 and serve up to five years in jail. In these cases, driving privileges are suspended for a period of two to three years. The offender is required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device for a period of two years after the mandatory suspension period. Third and subsequent DWI convictions may result in the seizure of the vehicle owned and operated by the offender.