Driving on a Suspended License in Rhode Island

If you are licensed to drive in Rhode Island, your driving privileges be suspended or revoked for a range of criminal convictions, driving offenses, or other reasons. Driving while your license is suspended or revoked is a crime.

Reasons for Suspension or Revocation

Certain criminal convictions may net you a license suspension or revocation. They include:

  • driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • three convictions for reckless driving within a year
  • a felony, if a vehicle was used
  • failing to stop if you are involved in an accident that kills or injures someone, and
  • using an altered or fake license to buy alcohol. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-11-6.)

Other driving-related issues may also result in suspension. They include:

  • committing driving offenses frequently enough that the state believes you disrespect traffic laws and the safety of others on highways
  • being a reckless or negligent driver, and
  • driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent. (R.I. Gen. Laws §  31-11-7(a).)

Your license may be suspended if you fail to pay traffic fines. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-11-25.)

Reinstating Your License

You should not drive while your license is suspended or revoked. After your period of suspension or revocation, you may have to pay a reinstatement fee or complete other conditions before your license is reinstated. The reinstatement fee may be:

  • $150, or
  • $350, if your driving privileges were suspended for alcohol-related offenses including DUI. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-11-10.)

You will not have to pay a reinstatement fee if your license was suspended because you were mentally or physically unable to drive and you have since been found competent to drive. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-11-10(a).)

Criminal Charges for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

If you drive while your license is suspended or revoked, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-11-18(a).) In general, for a first offense, you sentence may involve:

  • a fine between $250 and $500, and
  • up to 30 days in jail. (R.I. Gen. laws § 31-11-18(c).)

For a second or subsequent offense, your sentence may involve:

  • a fine between $350 and $1,000, and
  • up to one year in jail. (R.I. Gen. laws § 31-11-18(c).)

Your sentence may be different if your license was suspended or revoked for certain convictions, including:

  • operating under the influence
  • refusing to submit to a chemical test
  • manslaughter resulting from driving a vehicle, and
  • three moving violations within a year. (R.I. Gen. laws § 31-11-18.1(a).

In these situations, your first and second offenses may be a misdemeanor. (R.I. Gen. laws § 31-11-18.1(a).) A third or subsequent offense may be a felony. (R.I. Gen. laws § 31-11-18.1(a).)

A  first offense (misdemeanor) may involve a sentence of:

  • a mandatory $500 fine, and
  • a minimum 10-days in jail. (R.I. Gen. laws § 31-11-18.1(c).)

For a second offense (misdemeanor) within five years, your sentence may involve:

  • a $500 fine, and
  • six months to one year imprisonment. (R.I. Gen. laws § 31-11-18.1(2).)

For a third or subsequent conviction within five years, a felony, your sentence may involve:

  • a $1,000 fine, and
  • up to up to one year imprisonment, or participation in a public service program. (R.I. Gen. laws § 31-11-18.1(3).)

In addition, your license may be subject to additional suspension or revocations. (R.I. Gen. laws § 31-11-18(b), § 31-11-18.1(b).)

Legal Help for Charges of Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

If you are charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license, you may want to hire an attorney. A conviction comes with serious consequences, including fines, possible imprisonment, and further license suspensions or revocations. Your ability to get to work, stay in school, obtain or retain insurance, and other areas of your life may be affected. Pennsylvania law provides a range of penalties for a conviction, but your actual sentence will be determined by the view that your local judges and prosecutors have of the crime. A lawyer who is familiar with these charges in your area will best be able to advise you.

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