Rhode Island Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer

The Law Offices of Michael J. Zarrella

DUI charges can get dismissed, if you hire the right DUI defense lawyer.


Driving under the influence of alcohol, or more traditionally recognized as DUI or drunk driving, is one of the more regularly seen offenses in Rhode Island courtrooms. If you have been arrested for DUI or a drunk driving charge, you want to hire a DUI lawyer who will agressively fight to win your case. You need an experienced drunk driving attorney who understands all of the defenses available to a defendant in a drunk driving case. The penalties for a Rhode Island DUI conviction are very serious. You need a lawyer with a track record of success, someone that will fight for you, and a lawyer who has the know-how to get your DUI dismissed. The Law Offices of Michael J. Zarrella have been winning DUI cases thoughout Rhode Island for 20 years. Attorney Zarrella knows that there are a multitude of ways to win a DUI case. Attorney Zarrella will use the best defense available based on the facts and circumstances of your case in order to best defend you. Although Rhode Island's mandatory penalites for DUI are severe, a good DUI lawyer can often avoid the penalties by getting his or her client's case dismissed or reduced to lesser charges.

Rhode Island Drunk Driving Penalties

Under Rhode Island Law, there are mandatory penalties for drunk driving. These penalties must be imposed by a judge if a defendant either pleads guilty to a DUI or is found gulity of a DUI. The judge has little to no discretion in imposing the penalties. That is why it is so important to have the right lawyer, who can avoid these penalties by either getting your DUI dismissed or reduced to a charge that has no mandatory penalties.

The following are the DUI penalties for a first offense DUI. A DUI is considered a first offense if you have had no conviction for DUI within the last 5 years.

First Offense DUI with BAC between .08-.10%

  • $100 -$300 fine
  • License suspension from 1 month to 6 months
  • Up to one year in jail (No Mandatory Jail)
  • Perform 10 to 60 hours of community service
  • Highway Safety Assessment ( $500 fee)
  • DUI school and/or drug treatment
  • Mandatory SR-22 Insurance for 3 Years

First offense DUI with either a BAC unknown or a BAC between .10-.15%

  • $100-$400 fine
  • License suspension from 3 months to 1 year
  • Up to one year in jail (No Mandatory Jail)
  • 10 to 60 hours of community service
  • Highway Safety Assessment ($500 fee)
  • DUI school and/or drug treatment
  • Mandatory SR-22 Insurance 3 Years

First offense DUI with a BAC of over .15% within five years

  • $500 fine
  • License suspension for 3 months to 18 months
  • Up to one year in jail (No Mandatory Jail)
  • 20 to 60 hours of community service
  • Highway Safety Assessment ($500 fee)
  • DUI school and/or drug treatment
  • Mandatory SR-22 Insurance 3 Years

There are a Multitude of Defenses to Rhode Island DUI Charges.

It is important to remember that under the law you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Regardless of what you have heard about Rhode Island drunk driving cases, there are many defenses to the charges that will lead to a dismissal of your case.

Attorney Zarrella is familiar with numerous DUI defense tactics. These defenses often lead to the DUI cases of Attorney Zarrella's clients getting dismissed or reduced to lesser charges. Attorney Zarrella will study your case and implement all of the defenses available to you based on the facts and circumstances of your case. The prosecution does not want you to know that in order for them to get a conviction of a drunk driving case, there are many hoops that they must jump though and many obstacles they must avoid. Not all attorneys are abreast of the recent laws in defending drivers charged with DUI. Attorney Zarrella has been winning DUI cases for 20 years. Not only does he know all of the defenses in a DUI case but has created many successful defenses himself. It does not matter if you have failed the breath test, you can still win your case if the correct defense is there.

Here are just a few examples of the many defenses under Rhode Island law in which a DUI case can be successfully defended:

  • The State must prove that you fully consented to take either the blood or breath test.
  • The State must prove the police mailed you a copy of your breathalyzer results within 72 hours of the taking of the test.
  • The State must establish that the breathalyzer machine has been tested within the guidelines of the Department of Health for accuracy within the previous 30 days.
  • The officer who administered the breathalyzer test must be certified to operate the breathalyzer machine within the past year.
  • The State must show that the police officer followed exact protocols in administering the tests in accordance with the RI Department of Health rules and regulations for the breathalyzer machine.
  • The prosecutor must prove that the defndant was informed that he has a right to see his own medical expert of his choosing and was also given a reasonable opportunity to do so.
  • The State must show you were afforded an opportunity to make a private phone call before taking the test.
  • The State must prove that the person taking the test had a complete breath test which must consist of two (2) valid breath samples; just one breath test is not admissable.
  • The State must prove that the police observed the DUI defendant for 15 minutes before adminsistrating the breath test. If the police do not prove this fact then the breath results may not be presented at court.
  • The prosecutor must prove the two (2) test results were within + or – 0.020 of each other otherwise the results are not admissible.
  • The two tests must be taken within fifteen (15) minutes of each other.
  • The prosecutor may have to show that the defendant was afforded a timely release from the police station.
  • The State must prove the police had probable cause to pull the car over for DUI.
  • The State must prove the standardized field sobriety tests were administered properly by the police in accordance with the manual issued by the RI Department of Transportation.

These are just a few of the numerous ways to win a DUI case. Remember, there are legal hoops that the prosecution must jump though in order to get a breath test to be admitted in court. If your lawyer can find a loophole then the court may deem the breath or blood test inadmissible. This will likely lead to a dismissal or at the very least a reduction of your drunk driving charge.

Attorney Zarrella handles all types of Drunk Driving Cases

Whether you are facing a first offense DUI or have been charged with a second felony offense, Attorney Zarrella will fight for the best possible results for your case. Attorney Zarrella understands the seriousness of DUI penalties and the implications that are involved if you are convicted, so he will stop at nothing to defend your drunk driving case.

Do not leave your DUI case to an inexperienced attorney! Attorney Zarrella takes pride in his many DUI victories and he has a long a successful tract record. He knows that harsh DUI penalties may not only cost you your license but also your job, family and reputation in the community. For those reasons, Attorney Zarrella will fight to get your driving under the influence charge dismissed. Not all DUI cases can be won, but many will be if you give yourself the best chance by hiring an attorney who has won numerous DUI cases in the past and plans on winning many in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Rhode Island Drunk Driving Charges.

1. What happens if I refuse the breathalyzer test?

You will have your license suspended for 6 months.

2 . Is it possible to get driving privileges if your license is suspended for a Rhode Island DUI?

NO, there is no occupational license in Rhode Island. Although there is legislation at the state house to enact such a law.

3. Will I go to jail for 1st time criminal DWI?

Under Rhode Island law, jail time is a penalty for a DUI. However, if this is your first time, it is unlikely that you will go to jail, unless someone was injured or the facts and circumstances are dreadfully bad.

4. How long does a Rhode Island DUI conviction stay on my record? Can it be expunged?

A Rhode Island DUI conviction stays on your record for 5 years after your probation runs out. It also may be expunged after that time period, so long as you have no other convictions on you record. A dismissed DUI can be expunged immediately so long as you do not have a felony conviction.

What You Should You Do If You Are Pulled Over For A Rhode Island DUI.

If you get pulled over for DUI, the police will ask you to take a field sobriety test and a breath test. What should you do? This question is not easily answered. Anything you agree to do such as a Field Sobriety Test or a breath test will be used against you if you fail the test. The common thought is to refuse everything, but this may not be the best choice for you. Not taking the field sobriety test is likely a smart thing to do, often people fail these tests even when they are not drunk. Additionally, the test is subjective, since the police are the ones that judge the test. Almost no police department in the state still has cameras in the police cars, so if the police say you failed it is very difficult to challenge it. As to the breath or blood test, the answer is not as easy. If you fail a breath or blood test you are giving the state evidence to prove that you are under the influence, which may lead to a DUI conviction. However, If you refuse you are almost certainly going to be charged with the civil penalty of refusal. The refusal penalties in Rhode Island are actually worse then the DUI penalties. The only advantage of a refusal is that it is not criminal in nature.

Therefore, a refusal will not go on your BCI. One school of thought is if you really do not want to lose your license and win everything it may be better to take the breath test, and challenge the admissability of the results later. By doing this you avoid the mandatory minimum 6 month suspension on the refusal. Breath test refusals are very difficult to win at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. Additionly, there are many ways to suppress or win a failed breath or blood test. A good lawyer can often get your breath test thown out, or have your case reduced to a lesser charge for issues dealing with your case.

So there really is no easy answer. The facts of each person's life may determine what he or she does. A person that can't have a criminal record because of their job would be less likely to want to take the test. Also a person that has prior convictions or a person whose DUI lead to injury would also be less likely to take the test, for they could be opening themselves up to a jail sentence. Conversely a person that really can't lose their license may want to take the test to avoid the refusal. If you find youself in the dubious position of being arrested for a DUI, your best bet is to call a lawyer with the phone call they must offer you.

Call Attorney Zarrella today, and let him start working on getting your DUI dismissed.