Knowing the Difference Between a DUI and an OUI in Rhode Island

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If you’ve come across these two acronyms, DUI and OUI, you will know that these are closely related but are not exactly alike. DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, and OUI stands for Operating Under the Influence. These two are both punishable by law as misdemeanors for the first two times and as a felony for the third time. The main difference between the two is that OUI doesn’t necessarily require the person to be driving for law enforcement to make a stop and an arrest. So what exactly is an OUI? If you were slapped with an OUI in Rhode Island, this means you were found behind the wheel of a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of higher than .08. You don’t need to be driving for this to happen. If you were parked on the side of the road or in a parking lot and your keys are in your car’s ignition while you are intoxicated, you can be arrested for OUI. The reason why you can be arrested for OUI even if you’re not driving, and are parked and sleeping the alcohol off, is because of the keys in the ignition. With your keys in the ignition, it indicates the intent to drive. If your keys are not in the ignition, this means you have no plan to drive off while you’re intoxicated.

What Happens When You Get Arrested for DUI or OUI in Rhode Island?

Whether you are stopped on the road for driving while intoxicated or for operating under the influence, the penalties are pretty much the same for both. Rhode Island follows a three-tier system when it comes to the penalties meted for such offenses. These are as follows: Tier 1 Offense – BAC is .08 to .10 – This can get you a fine of at least $100, possibility of up to a year in jail, suspension of your license of up to 180 days, and community service of up to 60 hours. You might also be asked to enroll in a driving school because of this and be asked to attend alcohol treatment programs. Tier 2 Offense – BAC is .11 to .15 – This can get you a fine of around $400 and possibly up to one year in jail. Just like with a tier-one offense, you can get your license suspended, be asked to take driving lessons, attend alcohol treatment programs, and do community service up to 60 hours. Tier 3 Offense – BAC is higher than .15 – This can get you a fine of upwards of $800 and a license suspension of up to one year. You can also expect the same penalties as the other two tiers, but with longer times for community service and up to one year in jail. Aside from this tiered approach to OUI and DUI, repeat offenders will find themselves being slapped with stiffer penalties and longer jail sentences if found guilty. First time and second-time offenders will go away with a misdemeanor but those who are arrested for a third time due to an OUI or DUI will be charged with a felony. This usually comes with higher fines and penalties plus possible jail time of more than a year. License suspension for those who are repeat offenders will also be longer, with third-time offenders getting up to three years suspension. Those who are arrested for second and third offenses will also be asked to attend mandatory drug and alcohol treatments. Fines for repeat offenders will also be higher, with the lowest possible penalty being $1,200 for second-time offenders and up to $5,000 for third-time offenders.