In April of 2011, our client was charged by the South Kingstown Police Department with transportation of alcohol by a minor in violation of R.I.G.L. 3-8-9. Transportation of alcohol by a minor is defined as, "any person who has not reached his or her twenty-first (21st) birthday and who operates a motor vehicle upon the public highways, except when accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or another adult who is over the age of twenty-one (21) years and related."
If a person charged with transportation of alcohol by a minor is convicted, the penalties include:
(1) For a first offense, a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) and have his or her license to operate a motor vehicle suspended for not more than thirty (30) days;
(2) For a second offense, a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500) and have his or her license to operate a motor vehicle suspended for not more than ninety (90) days;
(3) For a third or subsequent offense, a fine of no less than five hundred dollars ($500) nor more than nine hundred and fifty dollars ($950) and have his or her license to operate a motor vehicle suspended for one year.
A transportation of alcohol by a minor charge is usually accompanied by civil traffic violations. Typically police observe a car committing a traffic violation, such as speeding, and they stop the car. It is during the stop, where police obtain the operator's driver's license and therefore their age and observe the alcohol in the motor vehicle. In addition to the criminal charge, the operator can also be charged with presence of alcoholic beverages while operating or riding in a motor vehicle. Although a civil violation, it has severe penalties. Pursuant to R.I.G.L. 31-22-21.1:
No person shall operate a motor vehicle upon the public highways with any unsealed alcoholic beverage container within the passenger section of the vehicle.
Any person found in violation of this section may be fined not more than two hundred dollars ($200) or have his or her driver's license suspended for up to six (6) months, or both, for the first violation, and for each subsequent violation may be fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500) or have his or her driver's license suspended for up to one year, or both.
In May of 2011, the transportation of alcohol charge was dismissed based upon our negotiations with the Prosecutor and Attorney Humphrey's experience, reputation and skill with alcohol offense cases. In June of 2011, the offense was expunged from our client's record. The expungement statute, 12-1.3-2, allows for any person who is a first offender may file a motion for the expungement of all records and records of conviction for a felony or misdemeanor by filing a motion in the court in which the conviction took place, provided that no person who has been convicted of a crime of violence shall have his or her records and records of conviction expunged.
This successful disposition and expungement allows our client to maintain his clean criminal record, to avoid disciplinary proceedings at his college and to avoid any license suspension.