Rhode Island’s Ignition Interlock DUI Laws – RI Hardship License or Work License

Although the law is more than two years old, many of Rhode Island’s citizens are not aware of the ignition interlock law of 2015. The Rhode Island legislature looked to the Rhode Island State Police, whom have trained with other state police departments where interlock laws already exist. States that have used this system have seen an average of a two-thirds reduction in repeat offenses. It is expected that these ignition interlocking systems will allow for the reduction of fatal DUI accidents, which, in turn, will also reduce the amount of Rhode Island DUI lawsuits.  Drunk Driving advocacy groups also seemed to support the policy behind the passage of this new law.  In addition, this law enables a convicted motorist, or a motorist who has a pending case with a preliminary suspension, to operate a vehicle for a particular purpose, with the device installed in the vehicle.

Rhode Island’s Ignition Interlock DUI Laws – RI Hardship License or Work License

What Is the Law In Rhode Island?

The ignition interlock law in Rhode Island allows judges and magistrates to prohibit people convicted of a DUI offense from operating a vehicle that is not equipped with an ignition interlock system.  Conversely, it allows people to operate their vehicle during a suspension period and after the suspension, with certain conditions attached. The law can be found in Rhode Island General Law § 31-27-2.8. The law also provides that to regain your license, or driving privileges, after being found guilty of a DUI offense, the interlocking ignition system may need to be placed in the car for a period of time. The range of time can be from a few weeks to over one year, depending on the exact nature of the offense charged.  As a practical matter, when a motorist refuses the chemical test, the Traffic Court Magistrate may suspend the privilege to operate a motor vehicle immediately.  Therefore, to seek an exception for driving to and from work, or during work, the lawyer must file a motion for the hardship license to be imposed immediately.  The motion should be accompanied by an appropriate order, interlock certificate, affidavit of hardship and possibly a letter from the employer.  The Judge may inquire of the client at the time of the request as well.

Once the hardship license is granted, so that the motorist can drive to and from work, it can be combined with a subsequent period of interlock requirement, but structured so that the motorist can drive whenever and wherever they like, if the device is properly installed in the vehicle.  In other words, the goal is to structure a sentence so that there is never a time whereby the motorist cannot drive. Please note, these exceptions will generally not be approved by the Judge until the device has been installed in the vehicle, and the motorist can present the interlock certificate of installation.

Also, the DMV will not honor the hardship license until the motorist has an SR-22 or financial responsibility form on file at the DMV – Financial Responsibility Office.  This form is essentially a bond on the driver’s license and evidence that the motorist has duly informed the insurance company of the incident or allegation.  Yes, insurance premiums can increase, and they almost always do.  In addition, the insurance company will charge a processing fee for the issuance of the form.  Do not have the form sent to you; rather, it should be sent directly by the insurance company to the DMV – and not by fax, unless the fax is merely a temporary transfer, to be followed by an original form.

Hardship licenses may be fairly short or longer in duration, depending on the seriousness of the offense and depending on what number offense it constitutes.  In any event, the ability to drive to and from work during suspension periods is vital to the financial interests of clients and employers alike.  It is expensive and inconvenient, but at least this law eliminated the likelihood of losing a job due to the inability to travel there.

What Is an Ignition Interlock System?

Once installed, the driver must breathe into a device, much like a breathalyzer, in order to start their car. When the machine recognizes that a motorist has begun to breathe into the machine, it will indicate whether the vehicle can be started. In most ignition interlocking systems, the system will call for periodic, additional tests to keep the vehicle moving. In Rhode Island, the person’s blood-alcohol content must be below 0.02 to pass the test. To exemplify a 0.02 blood-alcohol content, two beers for a 180-pound male could be as much as 0.04 BAC.  The systems may be installed and coordinated by New England Interlock, or a multitude of other companies that can be found on line.  There are also different devices to choose from, depending on the service provider and cost.  The device costs approximately $150.00 to install, which may at times include the first month maintenance fee.  The device must be maintained monthly, at a cost of approximately $75.00 per month.  The DMV has also been charging a $100.00 interlock monitoring fee, and they usually must provide a de-installation certificate before the service provider will remove the device.  As one can imagine, complaints include malfunction, cost and general inconvenience, but at least you can drive during your sentence or during the pendency of the case, depending on the particular situation.
Contact an Experienced Rhode Island DUI Lawyer

Have you or someone you know been pulled by the police on suspicion of a DUI? It is important you contact the office of Kevin O. Hagan, 105 Memorial Blvd. West, Newport, RI 02840. Kevin O. Hagan is a former RI State Prosecutor who will use his vast knowledge and experience pertaining to drunk driving cases to win and successfully negotiate for you. Kevin has made meaningful connections in the Rhode Island legal community and has over 15 years of experience. From the moment Kevin takes your case, it becomes his priority. Please contact Attorney Kevin O. Hagan at 401-619-0477 or 401-487-8691 to speak about your case today. Disclaimer: Every case is different. This blog should not be referenced as legal advice, but rather as general information. If you or a loved one faces a DUI in Rhode Island contact Kevin Hagan directly for a free consultation.