Former RI State Prosecutor

I’m a former RI State Prosecutor with 20 years of courtroom experience. Prior to being sworn in as a Special Assistant Attorney General I was a Criminal Investigator in the RI Attorney General’s Office. I’ve prosecuted hundreds of DUI cases. My knowledge and experience as a State Prosecutor has been invaluable to me on the defense side where I’ve been very successful.

“I want to put that experience and knowledge to work for you” I bring a strong passion and work ethic to each case. When necessary I’ve called experts to testify at trial in defense of my DUI & Refusal clients. I’ve issued subpoenas to the police to produce training manuals and other relevant documents. I dig deeper that what is written in a police report.

Police Officers have hired me to defend them on their own DUI charges.

I don’t leave any stone unturned. I personally interview all potential witnesses. I personally visit the scene of the stop or accident. I carefully review everything the that the police did, or importantly didn’t do. Every detail is important, and cases can be dismissed based on what may seem like a small, but ultimately very important detail. I know where the weakness can be found and exploited in court to obtain a dismissal, not guilty verdict, or reduced charges. I have had cases dismissed at the pre-trial stage after convincing the court that the initial stop was illegal. I’ve done jury trials, for capital offenses, including first degree murder.

In addition to being a dui defense attorney, I serve as an Assistant Town Solicitor for the Town of Narragansett, RI where I continue to advise the police and prosecute DUI and other misdemeanor offenses for the Town. Again, the experience on both sides has proven to be invaluable.

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What is a DUI?

Driving under the influence (DUI) cases are very technical. They occur when a person is arrested for driving an automobile at a time when they were incapable of safely operating their motor vehicle due to intoxication by alcohol, drugs or some combination. There is a particular seriousness to it because a charge in this area of law can have enormous effects on one’s employment. Many people’s jobs are dependent upon their ability to have an active license. With DUI cases, they are looking at a ninety day minimum first offense as well as an automatic criminal conviction if they are found guilty. If you were to refuse, you are looking at a six month minimum loss of license, but not necessarily be facing a criminal conviction. If you were convicted and, in the next five years, you have another DUI, the second offense will still be a misdemeanor but you could get ten days in jail. Additionally, the third offense is a felony.

Oftentimes, in Rhode Island driving under the influence is combined with the charge of breathalyzer refusal. The first offense refusal is a civil infraction. If a person did refuse in a case, they are almost always charged with both DUI and refusal. If you have a second offense with a refusal, that actually becomes a criminal matter and is no longer just a civil matter. The bottom line here is that there are enhancements to DUI and Refusal laws.

In 2015 the new Ignition Interlock law went into effect.  This Law, found in RIGL 31-27-2.8, now provides for limited driving privileges if convicted of a DUI charge or a Chemical Test Refusal Charge.  This limited driving privilege is called a Conditional Hardship License.

Am I Eligible for a Rhode Island Conditional Hardship License?

The Rhode Island Ignition Interlock Law provides explicit criteria for who is eligible to obtain a Conditional Hardship License.  The Law allows the sentencing judge or magistrate to “grant the person a conditional hardship license during the period of license suspension.”  The license is only valid “for twelve (12) hours per day to get to and from employment” and it shall only be granted “in conjunction with the installation of an ignition interlock device.”  Furthermore, the limited privileges “must be set by the sentencing judge or magistrate after a hearing in which the motorist must provide proof of employment status and hours of employment.”

Eligibility Requirements

  • The Motorist must be “sentenced” by a Judge or Magistrate on a DUI or Refusal Charge;
  • The Motorist must have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle;
  • The Motorist must provide proof of employment status and hours of employment.

What Does a Conditional Hardship License Allow?

  • Only allows an individual to drive “to get to and from employment”;
  • During a set twelve (12) hour period per day;
  • While using an ignition interlock device.

When and How Can I Obtain a Conditional Hardship License on my DUI or Refusal Case?

Unfortunately, individuals are only eligible to obtain a Conditional Hardship License AFTER they are sentenced by a Judge or Magistrate.  This means that it can only be obtained when the case is resolved.  It is up to your defense lawyer to work out the terms and work to get you the right to drive with a Conditional Hardship License.

Can I Get A Conditional Hardship License During A Preliminary License Suspension?

When an individual is alleged to have refused to submit to a chemical test in Rhode Island, they will likely face what is called a preliminary license suspension at their first court date.  This preliminary license suspension is an absolute license suspension.  Currently, the Rhode Island Ignition Interlock Law does not provide or allow for Conditional Hardship Privileges during this preliminary license suspension.

What Do I Need to Do to Get a Conditional Hardship License?

While negotiating a resolution of your DUI or Refusal case, your lawyer must work to achieve favorable terms to the end of your case.  Part of this negotiation will involve advocating for the Court to grant a Conditional Hardship Privilege under the appropriate circumstances.  The granting of Conditional Hardship Privileges is discretionary; meaning that the Judge does NOT have to grant the privilege and makes a determination of the appropriateness of the privilege on a case-by-case basis.  To assist your defense lawyer in obtaining a Conditional Hardship License on your behalf, you will need to provide the following documents:

  1. An “Ignition Interlock Certificate” (which is provided by the ignition interlock service provider);
  2. A Letter from your Employer documenting your employment status and hours of employment;
  3. A Written Statement to your Lawyer explaining why a Suspended License will cause you a “hardship”.

What Happens In Court When I Am Seeking A Conditional Hardship License?

In some circumstances, you will enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendre (no contest).  After the Court accepts your change of plea, the Court is required to hold a brief eligibility hearing.  During the hearing, the Court will typically swear the Defendant/Motorist in under oath and ask a few questions.  Some of the typical questions you may face include:

  1. Did you have an ignition interlock certificate installed? When?  Do you have the Ignition Interlock Certificate?
  2. Where do you work? How long have you worked there?  What is your position?  What are your typical work hours?  Do you have an employment verification letter?
  3. Why would a suspended license cause you (and potentially your family) a “hardship”? How would a Conditional Hardship License alleviate that hardship?

What Happens After the Court Grants a Conditional Hardship License?

After you enter your plea and the Court is satisfied by the information presented at the Conditional Hardship Hearing, you will need to immediately visit the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles to begin driving with your Conditional Hardship Privilege.  You must bring the following documents to present to a Hearing Officer at the DMV:

  1. Proof of Installation of the Ignition Interlock Device (called an “Ignition Interlock Certificate”);
  2. Proof of an SR-22 Insurance Policy on your Drivers License (pink copy);
  3. Court Order that contains the requirements for the Conditional Hardship License, including the authorized hours of operation;
  4. $100.00 to pay the Ignition Interlock Fee at the Operator Control Division of the DMV;
  5. $6.50 to pay to update your license to add the Conditional Hardship restriction

What Do You Need to Do After the Hardship Period Ends?

After your period of Conditional Hardship License ends, you will again need to visit Operator Control at the Division of Motor Vehicles in Cranston.  For most people, the termination of the Conditional Hardship period leads to a period of restricted driving called the Ignition Interlock Period.  If this is the case, you will need to do the following at Operator Control:

  1. Pay the $351.50 License Reinstatement Fee;
  2. Pay the $350.00 DUI School Fee and Register for the DUI School;
  3. Provide proof of your completion of the Court-Ordered Community Service;

Experienced Rhode Island DUI and Refusal Representation

We know that the information described above is overwhelming.  We are providing it to you as a starting point for working through the problems you may be facing.  Navigating these confusing and complicated laws requires the assistance of an experienced Rhode Island DUI and Refusal attorney.