Rhode Island DUI Charges - What is the legal limit?

In Rhode Island, charges for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are a daily occurrence. Officers who reasonably suspect a driver of being under the influence will pull the driver over and investigate further, in an effort to establish probable cause to arrest. While DUI’s occur regularly, being arrested for a DUI can be a stressful experience full of uncertainty and confusion. To avoid a DUI charge, alternative modes of transportation are recommended after consuming alcohol, but if you do consume alcohol and drive, it is imperative to understand what it means to be legally intoxicated. Alcohol tolerance and body weight may affect how drunk you feel, but legally, these factors do not affect the legal definition for intoxication.



While all drivers should be careful when consuming alcohol before driving, underage drivers have the lowest standard to be charged with a DUI. Any driver under 21 can be charged with a DUI if they blow into a breathalyzer and register a BAC of 0.02 or higher. The reason for the low standard is deterrence of underage drinking and acknowledging the reality that those motorists under 21 years of age should not consume alcohol, regardless of whether or not they were operating a vehicle.


Drivers at or over the legal drinking age have a higher standard before being charged with a DUI. If you are 21, the legal limit for a breathalyzer reading is 0.08. While older drivers are entrusted to know their limits, it is important to realize that there is not a magical or empirical formula for determining when you are legally fit to drive.  Metabolism, diet, weight, hydration and a number of other factors can contribute to one’s blood alcohol content.  From experience, most attorneys are reluctant to advise a client to submit to a breath test, even if they have only consumed a small amount of alcohol, because many clients may under report what they have consumed.  In addition, a potential client may have lost track of exactly how much alcohol they consumed, or they are erroneously under the impression that because they “feel fine,” that they will automatically pass a breath test.  Keep in mind, even if a motorist refuses the test, the prosecution can still attempt to prove that they were under the influence by relying on the experience and observations of the police officers.


Drivers with commercial licenses can face a DUI if their BAC is over 0.04. In addition, CDL drivers can face harsher penalties regarding their licenses. A driver who operates large commercial vehicles will lose their CDL for one year, almost automatically, for an alcohol related driving offense.


While prosecutors will always use breathalyzer readings in an attempt to prove a DUI, there are other means of doing so. Officers will look at common side effects of alcohol consumption such as slurred speech, blood shot eyes, delayed reaction, and odor. It is important to contact a skilled and experienced DUI attorney such as Kevin O. Hagan immediately.  

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.