Rhode Islands Conditional Hardship Licenses for Alcohol Offenses

Published 10/13/2021

Rhode Island’s conditional hardship law was recently updated by the general assembly. Rhode Island General Law §31-27-2.8 governs hardship licenses for persons charged with and convicted of DUI's and Breathalyzer Refusal cases in Rhode Island. 

What Is a Conditional Hardship License?

A conditional hardship license is the court's permission to drive for specific reasons and for specific times during your initial license suspension prior to any ignition interlock sentence.

When Can I Apply for a Conditional Hardship License?

  • At the Initial Breathalyzer Refusal Appearance.

Rhode Island law allows the court to preliminarily suspend a motorists license after an initial hearing at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. However, the law allows motorists to petition the court to seek a conditional hardship license.  Rhode Island's updated hardship law effects this process.

  • At the Time of Disposition for a DUI or Refusal.

Hardship licenses allow a person with a pending Breathalyzer Refusal or conviction for DUI or Refusal to continue to drive for specific purposes during their period of loss of license suspension prior to the imposition of the ignition interlock.

What Does the Court Consider Prior to Granting or Denying a Conditional Hardship License?

  • Prior Alcohol Related Convictions

One of the main factors on whether the courts would allow a hardship license is the motorist's previous record for alcohol related offenses. The prior law allowed a 10 year look back window for these types of offenses. The prior law also allowed the use of prior reckless driving offenses to limit the hardship license.

The Courts are now allowed to look at the motorist's entire record (criminal and driving record) for any alcohol related convictions. If there are any, the court may exercise their discretion in the granting of the hardship license by imposing up to a 90 day loss of license prior to any imposition of the hardship license.

  • Finding of Need

A motorist must present to the court the reason for the need of the conditional hardship license, such as employment, medical appointments, job training, schooling, religious purposes etc. This is usually completed by preparing a sworn affidavit along with attaching other supporting documentation.

  • Proof of Installation of Ignition Interlock and/or Blood or Urine Testing

Depending on the nature of the case, the motorist may be required to show proof of installation of the ignition interlock system. This is usually completed by providing the installation certificate. 

While other cases will require compliance with blood and/or urine testing for controlled substances. This is usually completed with proof of screens and a letter from your treatment provider.  More information about this can be found here.

You need to have an Experienced DUI Defense attorney that has prosecuted and defended these types of cases. Attorney LaMountain has successfully done both over his 10 years of legal experience.

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