Rhode Island DUI Trial Process

Every DUI starts with an arrest.  The police or justice of the peace will provide the motorist with papers that contain the court dates. If you were charged with refusal or traffic offenses, you will have a separate court date for those offenses.

Rhode Island Arraignment or Re-Arraignment

In regard to a DUI charge, your first appearance will be in District Court. There are four district courts located in Rhode Island:

The first court appearance will be for your arraignment or re-arraignment. At that time, the judge will inform you of the charges and if it’s a misdemeanor charge. You will enter a plea of not guilty, then the judge will set bail.

Bail is determined by facts in the case, previous history, where you live and flight risk assessment. For example, the judge may set bail at $1000 PR, which means $1000 personal recognizance. You will not have to pay any money for bail, buts it’s your promise to keep the peace and appear at all your court dates. If you fail to appear then you would be indebted to the State for that amount. If surety bail is set, then you will have to post 10% of that amount in order to be released.

During your arraignment, the judge will ask your Rhode Island DUI attorney a bunch of questions. For example, do you waive the thirty-day rule? Do you want to keep the matter in District Court or waive it to Superior Court in order to get a jury trial? Your Rhode Island criminal defense attorney will be able to explain all of this in detail and go over your best options. The judge will then give you a date to come back to court to appear for a pre-trial conference.

Pre-Trial Conference

During a pre-trial conference, your attorney will meet with the prosecutor for the state or the town that you were arrested in. They will have discussions about the facts of your case, about defenses to the charge and your individual circumstances. At some point during the first pretrial or at a subsequent pretrial, the town or state will communicate an offer to resolve the matter.  Your attorney will have a lengthy discussion about all your options and then you and your attorney will decide how to proceed.

Many DUI cases have several pretrial conferences in order to fight and get the best offer. After several pre-trial conferences and discussions with your attorney, it may be determined that it’s in your best interest to proceed to trial.

At that point, your attorney would let the Court know that you would like to proceed to trial and will assign a trial date.


On the day of trial, your case may get resolved or trial may start. Witnesses will be called by the prosecution and you may or may not call witnesses for your case. In the end, the judge will decide if you are guilty or not guilty. If the judge rules not guilty, your case is over, and the charges are dismissed.

If the judge finds you guilty, the judge will impose a sentence. At that point, you can decide if you want to appeal. If you want to appeal, your case would start all over with a fresh slate in Superior Court.