In February of 2014, our client was arrested by the Johnston Police Department following an accident. While at the station, he refused to submit to the chemical test and was charged with drunk driving - first offense ("DUI") and refusal to submit to the chemical test - first offense. In March of 2014, due to legal issues raised by Attorney Humphrey, the drunk driving charge was amended to reckless driving and the refusal charge was dismissed.
A first offense drunk driving charge is a criminal misdemeanor, whereas a first offense refusal to submit to a chemical test charge is a civil violation. Both have similar penalites if convicted, which include a fine, court costs, community service, a period of license suspension, DUI school or alcohol counseling and assessments. A period of imprisonment may be imposed in a DUI charge but not a refusal charge.
However, a reckless driving charge is much different. Pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws 31-27-4, reckless driving is defined as any person who operates a motor vehicle recklessly so that the lives or safey of the public may be endangered, or operates a vehicle in an attempt to elude or flee from a traffic officer or police vehicle, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor for a first conviction and a felony for the second and each subsequent conviction.
Due to the amendment of the charge from drunk driving to reckless driving, our client never received a criminal conviction and he is eligible to have the charge expunged from his record in one (1) year.