"Whether you’re drunk or high, it’s a DUI”: Public safety leaders and municipal leaders deliver a united message about impaired driving

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December 21, 2023


“Whether you’re drunk or high, it’s a DUI”

Public safety leaders and municipal leaders deliver a united message about impaired driving


Providence – At a news conference in Providence today, public safety leaders from around Rhode Island joined city and town leaders to deliver a strong message about impaired driving.


“Ensuring that everyone who lives, works, and visits Providence feels safe is my top priority,” said Mayor Brett P. Smiley. “Impaired driving poses a significant, often fatal risk to the safety and well-being of all members of our community. I am grateful to the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association for their efforts to raise awareness about this crucial issue and to all our police officers working on the frontline for their vigilance and dedication to keeping our community safe.”


“Driving under the influence, regardless of the substance consumed, is against the law and poses a serious threat,” said Colonel Darnell S. Weaver, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety. “We are committed to keeping our roads safe, and your cooperation is crucial. I hope everyone will listen to this message and join our collective efforts to enjoy the holiday season without the risk of tragedy.”


“This year we’ve lost 69 lives on our roadways,” said Gabrielle Abbate, Chief of Traffic Safety at the Rhode Island Department of Transportation Office of Highway Safety. “Impaired driving is a leading cause of crashes and we are grateful for our partnerships with NHTSA, our law enforcement agencies, and government leaders who help us remind Rhode Islanders to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” during the holidays – and every day.”


“Each decision we make on the road has an impact on our safety and the safety of those around us. Let us come together as a community to ensure that this holiday season is one of joy and celebration, free from the tragedy of crashes,” said Colonel Bradford Connor, Vice President of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association and Warwick Police Chief. “The holidays are a time of celebration, reflection, and unity, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that the roads remain safe for everyone.”


“The League of Cities and Towns represents all 39 municipalities in Rhode Island. On behalf of all these community leaders, we want to ensure everyone has a safe, happy, and healthy holiday.” said Ernie Almonte, Executive Director of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns. “We urge all Rhode Islanders and those gathered with loved ones to celebrate responsibly.”

There will be additional police patrols on duty throughout the state during over the holidays.


Background on impaired driving


The first offence for driving under the influence of liquor or drugs carries several penalties:


  • Possible jail sentence of up to one year at the ACI.
  • Mandatory license suspension from three to eighteen months.
  • Mandatory community service from 10 to 60 hours.
  • Fines of not less than $100, nor more than $500
  • Fees can easily reach a few thousand dollars.


Rhode Island law requires you to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the chemical content of your body fluids or breath.


If you refuse this testing, certain penalties can be imposed and include the following:


  • For a first offense, your Rhode Island driver’s license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle in this state can be suspended for six months to one year or modified to permit operation in connection with an ignition interlock device for a period specified by law; a fine from $200 to $500 can be imposed; and you can be ordered to perform 10 to 60 hours of community service and attend a special course on driving while intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance and/or alcohol or drug treatment.


  • If you have had one or more previous offenses within the past five years, your refusal to submit to a chemical test of breath or urine at this time can have criminal penalties, including incarceration up to six months for a second offense and up to one year for a third or subsequent offense, and can carry increased license suspension or ignition interlock period, fines, and community service.