Is Driving on a Suspended License a Criminal Offense in Rhode Island?

Woman Pulled Over by Police

The law on driving on a suspended license has recently changed in Rhode Island.  Now, if you are caught driving after your license is suspended, the law provides that you may be charged with a crime- but this is not always the case. In fact, the law has changed to make these offenses civil infractions rather than criminal violations for the first two instances of driving on a suspended license.  More specifically, Rhode Island General Laws 31-11-18 provides in pertinent part that:

“(a) Any person who drives a motor vehicle on any highway of this state who never applied for a license, or who drives after his or her application for a license has been refused, or after his or her license has expired, or who otherwise drives without a license, or at a time when his or her license to operate is suspended, revoked, or cancelled, for reasons other than those provided for in § 31-11-18.1, may be guilty of a misdemeanor.

(b) Upon a first violation under this section, a civil penalty of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250), nor more than five hundred dollars ($500), shall be imposed. For the second violation, a civil penalty of not less than three hundred fifty dollars ($350), nor more than five hundred dollars ($500), may be imposed.

(c) Any person convicted of a third or a subsequent violation of subsection (a) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and may, in the discretion of the sentencing judge, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding ninety (90) days, fined not less than five hundred dollars ($500) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both. Additionally, the sentencing judge may suspend the person’s license for a period not to exceed ninety (90) days.”

It is important to note that there are some exceptions to this new law.  For instance, if you are caught driving on a suspended license after your license was revoked due to a DUI or Refusal, then the subsequent driving on a suspended offense will be considered a misdemeanor, or even a felony in some instances.

Have You Been Caught Driving On A Suspended License in Rhode Island?

If you or a family member have been cited for driving on a suspended license, please call us today so we can minimize your exposure. Its important you speak with a criminal defense attorney right away.  Our offices are located in Fall River, A and in the heart of downtown Providence, RI. Call or text us now at 401-855-9023.