February 2011

"RI License Suspension"

In a Rhode Island DWI or DUI charge, conviction of driving while intoxicated ordinarily results in a revocation or suspension of the driver's license and all motor vehicle registrations held by the defendant. This provision of the typical driving-while-intoxicated statute is probably the chief factor motivating defendants to plead not guilty. However, conviction for driving while intoxicated is not essential to the institution of proceedings revoking or suspending a driver's license; the same facts presented in the criminal trial resulting in acquittal of the charge of driving while intoxicated may be sufficient to support an administrative revocation or suspension of that person's driver's license. In some jurisdictions, a driver's license may be suspended or revoked when the licensing authority (DMV) has notice of the licensee's conviction outside the state for driving while intoxicated.

Depending on state law, the attorney may or may not be able to help his client retain his driver's license and vehicle registrations. In some states the trial judge decides the matter of revocation or suspension and, in this situation, the attorney may be able to minimize the penalty. In other states, the period of suspension is automatically set by law or the state highway patrol organization is given the right, within certain limits, to determine the length of the suspension. In many jurisdictions, such as Rhode Island, the revocation of a driver's license is mandatory on conviction for driving while intoxicated.

In light of the fact that the minimum license suspension for refusing to submit to a chemical test in Rhode Island is six (6) months, and the minimum license suspension for criminal DUI is three (3) months, DUI clients often have a difficult decision to make. Do they opt for one or the other, or should they risk challenging both cases based on a factual or legal weakness in the case? Rhode Island DUI lawyers are accustomed to weighing the pros and cons of these relative decisions.

"Operation Elements of DUI Cases"

Rhode Island DUI, Rhode Island DWI, and RI Driving Under the Influence cases require that the prosecution prove that the suspect was actually operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyers are accustomed to reviewing police reports and interviewing witnesses in an effort to determine if the “operation” element of a DUI case can be proven by the prosecutor.

Rhode Island’s statute defining the offense of driving while intoxicated requires that the defendant exert some type of control over the vehicle. If a question exists concerning such control, the defense attorney should certainly investigate the matter. Also, the place where the vehicle was observed in operation is very important. Many statutes prohibit the operation of vehicles by an intoxicated driver only on certain types of public property. If any reasonable question exists as to the public character of the property, the defense attorney should consider the use of surveyors and title attorneys, if necessary, either to prove the private character of the area where the vehicle was operated, or to create reasonable doubts as to its public nature. Read More...