In Rhode Island, a DUI charge can cause problems in your everyday life. All DUI convictions and refusal to submit to breathalyzer violations, require some type of license suspension. Like most people, you still need to get to and from such things as work, medical appointments, and school. If your license is suspended due to a refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test or a plea to a DUI offense- you still may be able to drive!
In 2016, the Rhode Island General Assembly enacted new law which made it easier for people accused or convicted of a DUI or refusal, to obtain a hardship license to drive. A hardship license is essentially a permit for an individual to drive, despite their license being suspended. The law provides in pertinent part that:
“In any case where a person is convicted of a first offense under the provisions of § 31-27-2(d)(1) or under § 31-27-2.1(b)(1), the sentencing judge or magistrate shall, upon request, grant the person a conditional hardship license immediately upon a plea or admission of guilt, or an initial suspension under § 31-27-2.1(b), and after a finding of need under this section; provided, however, that in a case where a conditional hardship license shall be granted by the sentencing judge or magistrate upon an initial suspension under § 31-27-2.1(b) and prior to the installation of an ignition interlock device, said hardship license shall be issued to the motorist upon proof of installation of an ignition interlock device. However, in any case where a motorist has a prior alcohol-related offense or a prior reckless driving conviction under § 31-27-4 or reckless eluding conviction under § 31-27-4.1, within the prior ten (10) years of the offense, or when the instant offense involves a motor vehicle accident, the judge or magistrate may exercise their discretion in the granting of the hardship license by imposing up to a ninety (90) day loss of license prior to any imposition of the hardship license. If the instant matter involves a blood alcohol level of fifteen hundredths (.15) BAC or above, the judge or magistrate may exercise his or her discretion in the granting of the hardship license by imposing up to a six (6) month loss of license prior to any imposition of the hardship license. Said hardship license shall be valid only for twelve (12) hours per day to get to and from employment, necessary medical appointments, job training, schooling, or any other valid reason approved in advance by the sentencing judge or magistrate. A hardship license shall only be granted in conjunction with the installation of an ignition interlock device. Any conditional driving privileges must be set by the sentencing judge or magistrate after a hearing in which the motorist must provide proof of employment status and hours of employment, or any other legitimate reasons justifying a hardship license. These shall include, but not be limited to, any unemployment training, schooling, medical appointments, therapy treatments, or any other valid requests set forth by sworn affidavit. Once said hardship period has concluded, the motorist must still be subject to the conditions of the ignition interlock system as set forth under this section for the period of time as directed by the court. Any individual who violates the requirements of this subsection shall be subject to the penalties enumerated in § 31-11-18.1.”
This new law now does three things:
1.) First, it removes discretion from the judge in most cases involving first time DUI offenders. This allows someone accused of a refusal or who pleads out to a DUI to obtain a hardship license upon request to the court.
2.) Second, the statute expands the eligibility for those seeking a hardship license. The amended statute now allows for a hardship license for things beyond just employment- like, school, doctor’s appointments and, unemployment training.
3.) Finally, the statute now allows a person to obtain a hardship license without having to enter a plea. For example, in Rhode Island, if a person is cited with refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, their license is suspended immediately upon arraignment at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. Now, a person may request a hardship license to drive immediately, upon arraignment.
Have A DUI Suspension And Need A Hardship License?
If your license has been suspended and you are looking to get a hardship license, make sure you talk to a lawyer today! Attorney Noah Kilroy is ready to assist you in getting back on the road, immediately. Call or text us at (401) 855-9023, or email us now!