DUI Insurance Laws for Rhode Island

Drunk driving in RI is punished severely, including fines up to $5,000, up to five years in jail, and license suspension for three years. SR-22 insurance may be required.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Apr 30, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

Rhode Island is one state that takes drunk driving very seriously.

Even so, in 2010, Rhode Island ranked at number as one of the most dangerous states for drunk driving.

It’s not because alcohol-related deaths are increasing, but because more deaths are occurring in Rhode Island when people are hit by drunk drivers.

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Rhode Island DWI Laws

It’s expected that Rhode Island drivers aren’t going to drink and drive, but if they are suspected of having done so, they will be stopped by police officers.

Rhode Island has what is called an implied consent law meaning when people accept Rhode Island driver’s licenses and drive on the public roads, they have agreed to give their blood, breath or urine for a chemical test.

The chemical test is used to determine how much alcohol is in the driver’s system or if there is any evidence of marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine or ecstasy.

According to Rhode Island law, anyone determined to have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) that is 0.08 or higher has ingested more alcohol than is legally permitted for them to drive.

If the driver is under 21, the BAC only needs to be 0.02 or higher.

If the driver is conducting a company vehicle while in the process of doing a job such as delivering flowers, this driver may be guilty of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) with a BAC of 0.04 or higher.

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Rhode Islands Penalties for DWI Conviction

Rhode Island drivers aren’t supposed to refuse to give their blood, breath or urine because of the implied consent laws, but it does happen.

If Rhode Island residents do refuse the chemical test, immediate penalties result. These penalties begin with:

  • An immediate suspension of the Rhode Island driver’s license for three months
  • Possible community service
  • Possible fine to pay
  • Possible requirement to attend an alcohol rehabilitation program
  • Possible conviction for DWI

After the First Conviction

If people decide not to follow the implied consent law, they will receive the penalties listed above as well as new penalties if they are eventually convicted of DWI.

Submitting to the test may show that the Rhode Island drivers BAC was at least 0.08, and they also will receive these DWI penalties:

  • A one year jail sentence
  • Community service lasting between 10 and 60 hours
  • A $100 to $300 fine for a BAC of at least 0.08
  • A $100 to $400 for a BAC of 0.09 to 0.15
  • A fine of $500 for a BAC over 0.15
  • A $500 highway assessment
  • A suspended license from one month to six months for a BAC at least 0.08
  • A suspended license for at least three months but no longer than one year for a BAC of at least 0.15
  • A suspended license equal to 90 days up to a year and a half for a BAC over 0.15
  • Required to attend Rhode Island’s DWI course

The Second Conviction within Five Years of the First

Drivers arrested and convicted of their second DWI within five years of the first will be sentenced to jail for from 10 days to one year if they were found to have a BAC of at least 0.08.

If their BAC was determined to be over 0.15, the jail sentence will be increased to six months to one year.

They will receive a license suspension from one to two years if their BAC was registered at the 0.08 level. Above 0.15 will warrant a two-year suspension.

They will also be required to complete an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program.

The fine for a BAC of at least 0.08 will be $400, while the fine for a BAC over 0.15 will be $1,000.

They will receive another $500 highway assessment fee and will be required to have the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicles for one to two years.

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The Third Conviction within Five Years of the First


The third conviction of DWI is a felony in Rhode Island.

The penalties for a BAC of at least 0.08:

  • One to three years in jail
  • A fine of $400
  • A suspended license from one to three years

The penalties for a BAC over 0.15:

  • Three to five years in jail
  • A fine between $1,000 and $5,000
  • A license suspension of three years

Everyone receives a third $500 assessment fee, the IID is required to be in their vehicles for two years and they must return to alcohol or drug rehab.

It’s possible that Rhode Island may decide to confiscate the driver’s car at this point.

When the SR22 Form Is Required

The SR22 insurance form may be required of drivers who have come to the attention of the state for reasons such as earning a DWI.

Not every insurance company has the capability of filing the SR22 insurance form, so once drivers have been ordered to have it before their licenses can be reinstated, they may need to switch car insurance companies.

The next company will need to be notified from the beginning that the SR22 form will be needed and this can cause some insurance companies to charge higher auto rates.

The SR22 is a form that the insurance company files with the Rhode Island DMV to prove that the client has purchased Rhode Island’s required liability car coverage.

The courts can require that problem drivers file the SR22 for at least three years.

It’s up to the insured to remember to file the renewal when the time comes which is at least 15 days before it will expire.

If they neglect to do this, the SR22 will expire and the insurance company will be obligated to notify the state. If the SR22 filing expires, the driver’s license can be suspended again.

The time required to have this filing will start at the beginning again.

Even if people don’t own a car but they were convicted of DWI while driving another person’s vehicle, they can still be required to purchase nonowner’s insurance and file the SR22.

Rhode Island’s Required Liability Coverage

At the time that drivers are searching for insurance companies that can file the SR22 form for them, they will also need to seek to purchase their liability coverage.

Comparing car insurance quotes is a good idea at this time because insurance companies will consider a driver convicted of DWI as a high risk.

The fact that a driver is a high risk doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be charged the highest rates.

Some insurance companies are looking for people who have DWIs on their records to give them better rates than their competitors.

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Bodily Injury Liability Requirements

These drivers will have to receive quotes for bodily injury liability coverage for one person who might be hurt or killed in an accident that they have caused.

In Rhode Island, the amount of car insurance required is $25,000 for medical costs and/or funeral expenses for the injured or deceased victim.

The driver will also have to be responsible for everyone who was hurt or killed in the car collision.

A total of $50,000 bodily injury coverage is required to cover the entire accident in case there are any medical bills or funeral costs for more than one person.

Property Damage Liability Requirements

If the accident results in any property damage, the at-fault driver must pay the bills for repairing or replacing the damaged property.

In order to do this, Rhode Island car insurance requires that every driver purchases $25,000 property damage liability coverage.

Becoming more responsible drivers in Rhode Island begins with fulfilling the obligations the court has given them and by purchasing their liability insurance.

Comparing insurance quotes is going to make this easier because insurance companies do exist that will offer lower car insurance quotes for those with DWI.

Fill in the form right now and this fact will be proven in a couple of minutes.

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