Under most circumstances, being charged with DUI or drunk driving will not result in felony charges being brought against the driver. The vast majority of DUI charges brought and prosecuted in the State of Rhode Island are misdemeanor charges. The legal difference between misdemeanor and felony charges in Rhode Island is based upon the maximum jail sentence that could be imposed if the charge resulted in a conviction.
Misdemeanor criminal charges in Rhode Island carry a maximum jail sentence of one year or less. First offense DUI charges and Second offense DUI charges are both misdemeanor charges because they carry a maximum jail sentence of up to one year at the ACI (RI State Prison). Additionally, if you are charged with refusing to submit to a chemical test, second or third offense, these are also both misdemeanor criminal offenses for DUI related charges.
Felony criminal charges, on the other hand, carry a maximum jail sentence of more than one year. Felony DUI charges are less frequent, and generally require aggravating circumstances or a significant prior record with DUI related charges. Some examples of Felony DUI charges include third offense DUI charges, charges for DUI resulting in personal injury, DUI resulting in physical injury, or DUI death resulting. Most felony DUI charges carry significant mandatory jail sentences in addition to the lengthy potential maximum jail sentence.
In summary, most Rhode Island DUI charges are not felony charges. If you have never been in trouble before and there are not significant aggravating circumstances in your case, you have most likely been charged with a misdemeanor DUI offense. However, depending on the facts of the case and your prior record it is possible to be charged with a felony DUI in Rhode Island and that charge will carry a lengthy maximum jail sentence in addition to a significant mandatory minimum jail sentence.
All Rhode Island DUI charges should be dealt with in a serious manner as they all carry the possibility of incarceration, thousands of dollars in fines and costs, a criminal record, and long periods of license suspension. Contact Attorney Matthew Marin to discuss your DUI case and to listen to our individualized approach and the DUI defense strategy we would recommend in your case. We can be reached at 401-228-8271 or by email at [email protected].