Rhode Island Reckless Driving Laws

Rhode Island addresses reckless driving as a criminal offense, with first offenses carrying misdemeanor level penalties. However, contrary to many other state laws, a second offense reckless driving charge in Rhode Island is elevated to a felony. These criminal penalties also are coupled with any administrative action imposed by the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles.

Reckless Driving in Rhode Island

Rhode Island, per Chapter 31-27, Section 4, defines reckless driving as any operation of a motor vehicle, which encompasses any actions so reckless that they endanger the safety of other drivers, passengers or pedestrians. Any attempt to elude or flee law enforcement in a vehicle is also defined as reckless driving in Rhode Island.

Reckless Driving Penalties in Rhode Island



Criminal Penalties

Points Applied to License

Other Administrative Penalties

Reckless driving


Incarceration up to six months, with fines not to exceed $500

No point system in Rhode Island, classified as a major offense

Immediate license suspension three to 18 months, at discretion of courts

Impact on Your Driver's License

Without a points system, Rhode Island relies on a case-specific determination on the future validity of a driver's license. In any reckless driving case, drivers face the likelihood of license suspension of at least three months, but not more than 18 months. Rhode Island does not permit hardship or provisional licenses to drivers while serving a suspension period. However, utilizing a defensive driving course may be helpful in influencing the suspension sentencing amount determined by the courts, which may actually be prearranged as well.

Dealing with a Reckless Driving Charge in Rhode Island

Drivers charged with reckless driving must address both the criminal and administrative issues at stake. In many instances, drivers will initially attempt to obtain dismissal of the reckless driving charges, or if not feasible, arrange a plea agreement that reduces the reckless driving to a lesser, preferably non-criminal offense. On the administrative end, the discretion of the courts applied on a case-specific basis will dictate whether suspension of license occurs, and in turn, how long this suspension will last.

When to Get a Lawyer

In any reckless driving arrest, a driver should immediately consult with a Rhode Island attorney. The charges do carry the potential of incarceration, and although in practice this does not often occur, without the use of legal counsel, virtually any outcome can happen. If the reckless driving citation is issued relating to an accident causing injury or property damage, it will be imperative that a driver consult with a lawyer about mitigating the fallout a pending criminal case may cause and any ensuing civil litigation. For more information about your specific reckless driving case, consult directly with a Rhode Island reckless driving lawyer.

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