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DUI Legal Process in Rhode Island

When a person has been detained for an alleged DUI charge, then he or she will be immediately transported to a medical facility for treatment, followed by an arrest. Within 72 hours of the arrest, the individual will be brought before a magistrate. If the individual is charged with a misdemeanor, then he or she will be tried in district court, but if the person is charged with a felony, he or she will be tried in superior court. Trials held for misdemeanor violations for people who are 18 years old or over are in the district court, and those held for misdemeanor violations for those who are under 18 years of age are in the family court. For misdemeanor cases, an individual may petition for an appeal of the case within 5 days of the verdict.

The individual will appear in court for the first time regarding the DUI charge, where the individual will be formally advised of the charges against him or her, and the individual will be asked to plead guilty, not guilty, no contest. Since most individuals plead not guilty, the magistrate will decide whether to set bail or to release the person based on his or her promise to reappear in court. At the next court date, a pretrial conference is held, when the prosecutor provides its side of the evidence, such as police reports, video, and/or audio, to the individual. Finally, the case is set for trial. All trials related to DUI in the district and family court will be scheduled within 30 days of the individual’s first appearance in court.


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