While some motorists regard driving as a basic right, the fact is that operating a motor vehicle is a privilege that must be earned and maintained by demonstrating safe and lawful driving. Under certain circumstances, an individual's Rhode Island driver's license may be suspended or revoked for a specific length of time, depending on the person's driving record or history, and the particular violation(s).
REASONS FOR DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS
There are a variety of reasons why your Rhode Island driver's license might be suspended. Some of these are related to specific driving violations, while others may be due to violation of other State laws. Following are some of the most common reasons for a Rhode Island driver's license to be suspended or revoked.
- Driving Under the Influence. Rhode Island takes a strong stand against driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Your license will be suspended, you will be fined and may face a jail term if convicted of such an offense. The length of the suspension, the fine and length of the jail term depends on the degree of intoxication and your previous driving record. Rhode Island classifies the degrees of intoxication as follows:
Low Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) - 0.08% to 0.10%)
Medium BAC - 0.10% to 0.15% High BAC - 0.15% and over
A driver convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) can be fined between $100 and $5,000, faces a jail term of up to five years and will have their license suspended for a term between one month and five years. The court may also order between 10 and 60 hours of community service and request the offender to face a Highway Safety Assessment ($500 fee) and possibly undertake an alcohol treatment program.
Causing the death of another person while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in a jail term between 5 and 15 years, a fine of up to $15,000 and have their license revoked for five years.
- Excessive Moving Violations. Unlike most states, Rhode Island does not operate a point system, in which drivers accumulate points on their license for every moving violation they commit. However the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles classifies a driver who has three or more major offenses within a three year period as a habitual offender. This classification causes a license suspension between one and five years.
- Driving on a designated bicycle path. Operating a motor vehicle on a designated bicycle path will result in license suspension.
- Attempting to avoid a marked police car. Attempting to elude a marked police car after being signaled to stop will also result in license suspension.
- Controlled Substances. Your license will be suspended if you carry controlled substances in your motor vehicle.
- Driving with a Suspended License or no License. Driving with a suspended license will lead to an increase in the length of the suspension, and you may also be imprisoned for up to five years. The duration of the additional suspension varies depending on the reason for the underlying suspension. Your driver's license may also be suspended if you do not have your license with you while you are driving.
- Driving without Insurance. All motor vehicles driven in Rhode Island must be properly insured. Failure to provide proof of valid auto insurance can result in your license being suspended.
- Other Driving-Related Violations. Your Rhode Island driver's license may also be suspended if you engage in reckless driving, are found to be at fault in a fatal accident, or if you abandon your vehicle on a public highway.
- Physical or Psychological Disqualification. The DMV can order a re-examination of any person who may not be fit to drive. An individual's driving privileges may be suspended if the re-examination finds they are physically or psychologically unable to drive safely.
- Non-Driving Reasons for License Suspension. A variety of non-driving violations or issues can result in your license being suspended. These include: not responding to a DMV notice or not appearing in court; failing to pay traffic tickets, fines or surcharges; and not paying child support.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR RHODE ISLAND DRIVER'S LICENSE IS SUSPENDED
Having your Rhode Island driver's license suspended is a serious matter, and it is essential to adhere to State law in the event that your license is suspended. If you believe your license may be suspended due to one of the reasons listed above it is advisable to speak with a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer.
APPEALING A SUSPENSION
If you receive a notice of suspension from the DMV, and you wish to challenge the suspension, you may request a hearing in court. An administrative law judge will hear your case, and determine whether your driver's license should be suspended or not. In addition, drivers whose license may be suspended may be eligible to enroll in a Driver Improvement Program. Completing a Driver Improvement Program can enable an individual to avoid having his license suspended.
It is also a good idea to seek the advice of a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer, based on the reason for the suspension.
RESTORING YOUR LICENSE
Once your suspension period is over, you are entitled to apply for reinstatement. Rhode Island Operator Control Division determines if you are entitled to resume driving. You should contact the Division by telephone (401) 462-0800 or by visiting:
Operator Control Division John O. Pastore Complex Harrington Hall - Lower Level 30 Howard Ave. Bldg. #58 Cranston, RI 02920
If the Operator Control Division determines that you are safe to resume driving, you must:
- Visit any DMV location.
- Show your reinstatement notice.
- Show one form of identification, your Social Security card and proof of your address.
- Pay the reinstatement fee of $75 by check or credit card.