Drunk Driving Laws in Rhode Island in 2023: What Is Legal Blood Alcohol Level?

Drink and drive laws in Rhode Island

Drivers with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08%, or 80 milliliters of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, are prohibited from driving in Rhode Island. Violations of this legislation will result in the charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

Driving with a BAC of 0.04% or higher is forbidden for commercial vehicle drivers. Drivers under the age of 21 are also considered legally intoxicated at 0.02% BAC.

One to two standard alcoholic drinks are usually enough to approach or exceed the BAC limit of 0.08%. However, because BAC varies depending on characteristics such as weight and gender, this figure should only be used as a rough approximation.

Please keep in mind that the purpose of this post is to increase awareness of Rhode Island’s drunk driving laws. This website does not endorse driving while intoxicated in any way.

Based on NHTSA data, Rhode Island had 67 fatal traffic accidents in 2020. Forty-two percent of this number involves drivers with 0.08% BAC.

Driving when drunk should be avoided as much as possible. If you must travel after drinking, consider using a designated driver service, Uber, or a cab.

To decrease accidents caused by intoxicated driving, Rhode Island has DUI laws in effect. It is critical to follow impaired driving legislation to avoid legal repercussions. 

If you cannot avoid driving, you should first determine your BAC level before getting behind the wheel. Using an alcohol breathalyzer, you may confirm that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below the legal BAC limits in Rhode Island.

We recommend visiting Rhode Island’s official website for the most up-to-date information on DUI driving rules.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Rhode Island

Drinking alcohol can cause impairment to your judgment by slowing reflexes, obstructing vision, altering your recognition of distance and speed, and delaying reaction time.

These things can happen even if you don’t look or feel drunk. Alcohol intoxication signs may show as soon as you take your first drink.

Within 30 minutes to 2 hours, alcohol enters the bloodstream. Your breathing may become slower, making clear thinking harder.

Although the legal BAC limit in your state is 0.08%, keep in mind that everyone’s body reacts differently to alcohol.

Your blood alcohol concentration may be affected by the following factors:

  • weight,
  • gender,
  • levels of anxiety and exhaustion
  • hunger,
  • alcohol consumption level, and
  • taking prescribed drugs.

After a few drinks, some people may pass out. Even though they appear normal, their driving ability may be pre-determined. As a result, checking your BAC before getting behind the wheel is important.

A BAC calculator and chart can assist you in determining how much alcohol you can drink before driving. However, because everyone reacts differently to alcohol, these techniques may not be appropriate for everyone.

The most accurate approach to calculate your BAC is with a certified alcohol breathalyzer.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Rhode Island

Blood alcohol concentrations ranging from 0.010% to 0.029% may not cause significant impairment. Those with this BAC level do not appear to be intoxicated. However, when BAC levels rise, the symptoms of alcohol-related impairment become evident.

DUI laws differ from state to state. To prevent penalties, check your blood alcohol level before driving.

A DUI conviction can have serious legal and financial ramifications. The following are the DUI punishments in Rhode Island.

First DUI Offense in RI

First-time DUI offenders in Rhode Island with a BAC Level of 0.08%, not exceeding 0.10%, will face the following penalties:

  • Jail Time: Ten (10) to sixty (60) hours of community service work; or up to one (1) year in prison
  • Fines: At least $100
  • License Suspension: Thirty (30) to 180 days of suspension

For first-time DUI violators with a BAC level of 0.10% but not exceeding 0.15%, they may be charged with the following punishment:

  • Jail Time: Ten (10) to sixty (60) hours of community service work; or up to one (1) year imprisonment
  • Fines: $100 to $400
  • License Suspension: Three (3) to twelve (12) months of suspension

First DUI offenders with a BAC level of more than 0.15% will face the penalties below:

  • Jail Time: Twenty (20) to sixty (60) hours of public service and/or up to one-year prison sentence
  • Fines: $500
  • License Suspension: Three (3) to eighteen (18) months of license suspension

Second DUI Offense in RI

Second-time DUI offenders within five (5) years and with a BAC level of 0.08% but less than 0.15% may be penalized with the following:

  • Jail Time: At least ten (10) days up to one (1) year in jail
  • Fines: $400
  • License Suspension: One (1) to two (2) years of license suspension

For second-time DUI offenders in Rhode Island with a BAC level exceeding 0.15%, they may face the following punishment:

  • Jail Time: Six (6) months up to one (1) year imprisonment
  • Fines: At least $1,000
  • License Suspension: Two (2) years of license suspension

Third DUI Offense in RI

Third-time DUI offenders within ten (10) years with a BAC Level of 0.08%, not exceeding 0.10%, will face the following penalties:

  • Jail Time: Minimum of one (1) year up to three (3) years imprisonment
  • Fines: $400
  • License Suspension: Two (2) to three (3) years of license suspension

For third-time DUI violators with a BAC level of 0.15% and higher, they may be charged with the following punishment:

  • Jail Time: At least three (3) years up to five (5) years imprisonment
  • Fines: $1,000 to $5,000
  • License Suspension: Three (3) years of license suspension
  • Vehicle seizure: The judge also has the authority to take the violator’s vehicle and have it auctioned by the state of Rhode Island.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Rhode Island?

Several factors influence blood alcohol content. According to studies, gender plays a role in a person’s BAC level. In fact, men and women have different BAC thresholds.

Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) levels in men are substantially greater than in women. The ADH enzymes regulate alcohol metabolism. As a result, men absorb alcohol faster than women.

Read on to determine how much alcohol you may consume before driving in Rhode Island.

Although research backs up the information below, you should be aware that since everyone reacts differently to alcohol, it might not be helpful or suitable for everyone.

How Many Bottles of Beers Can You Drink and Drive in Rhode Island?

Drink beer and drive in Rhode Island

Looking at BAC charts, you’ll notice that a lighter person may have a greater BAC.

A 160-pound male, for example, can have a BAC of 0.02% after drinking a 12-ounce (350 ml) beer. (72 kilograms).

A woman of the same weight who drinks the same amount of alcohol could have a BAC of 0.03%.

This difference shows that gender influences the alcohol metabolism of a person.

Given the example above, limiting your beer consumption to one to two bottles is best if you need to drive later.

How Many Glasses of Wine Can You Consume and Drive in Rhode Island?

A standard 5-ounce (142 milliliters) glass of wine has an ABV of 12%.

A 160-pound male can have a BAC of 0.02% after consuming one glass of wine, as demonstrated in the sample above. On the other hand, a girl of the same weight and drinking habits could have a BAC as high as 0.03%.

If you plan to drive after drinking, one to two glasses of wine should suffice.

How Much Whiskey or Vodka Can You Drink and Drive in Rhode Island?

The ABV of distilled alcohols, such as vodka and whiskey, is 40%.

If you have to drive, stick to one to two shots of whiskey or vodka.

Sticking to DUI Laws in Rhode Island

There are various misconceptions about how drinking affects driving. Every driver should know the dangers of drunk driving and take every measure to avoid it.

It is risky to drive while high or intoxicated. You risk losing control of yourself and your vehicle if you are drunk or under the influence of a substance.

Even if you only consumed a few drinks, don’t be too confident in your BAC and driving ability. Instead of driving, alternate routes of transportation should be considered.

If you want to drive after drinking, ensure your BAC level is less than the legal limit in Rhode Island. A reliable alcohol breathalyzer can accurately assess your blood alcohol levels.

To understand more about the state’s DUI legislation, we recommend reading the official website of Rhode Island’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.