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Rhode Island Alcohol Laws

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Private retail stores can sell alcohol in Rhode Island, and local ordinances rather than state law determine the hours and days that it can be sold.

Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol

Although you must be 21 to drink alcohol in Rhode Island, all other services that require handling or selling alcohol have a minimum age of 18.

Open Container Laws

Previously opened bottles of alcohol must be transported in the trunk of a vehicle so that the driver and passengers do not have easy access.

BAC Limits

Any driver who is chemically tested and returns a BAC (blood-alcohol content) level that is .08 percent or more is considered ‘per se intoxicated.’ The courts require no further evidence in order to charge the driver with DUI (driving under the influence).

If a driver has a chemical test showing a BAC level that is .15 percent or more over the legal limit, that driver is subject to more severe punishment by the courts.

‘Zero tolerance laws’ mean that a driver under 21 years of age will face DUI penalties even if the chemical test indicates the driver has only a .02 percent BAC level.


‘Implied consent laws’ govern the behavior of drivers who refuse to comply with chemical testing for intoxication levels. Refusing to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test when requested by a law enforcement officer mandates driver’s license suspension for up to one year.

The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) can suspend a driver’s license for 45 days for a first DUI conviction, one year for the second offense, and two years for the third offense. With a third offense, the state can confiscate the driver’s vehicle either permanently or temporarily.

An ignition interlock device attaches to the convicted DUI offender’s vehicle and requires a breath-test before the vehicle will start. This is a possible punishment in Rhode Island.

Free Online DUI Case EvaluationAlcohol education, treatment, or assessment for alcohol abuse can be required for DUI offenders in Rhode Island. These steps are often suggested instead of serving a sentence of incarceration or paying fines.

DUI is considered a felony after the third conviction within five years.