You should know the drug and alcohol laws of every state you visit for your own information. Rhode Island is no different.

Before you travel to Rhode Island, you should know the answers to these questions:

  • What is DUI law in RI?
  • What is Zero Tolerance in RI?
  • What are cannabis laws in RI?
  • What is considered a drug-related crime in RI?

Not only that, but you should know the penalties for breaking drug laws in RI. Depending on the offense, you could be facing fines, jail time, or a suspended license—or even all of the above.

We found the most important information about drug and alcohol laws in Rhode Island so you don’t have to:

DUI Laws in Rhode Island

You’re driving under the influence (DUI) in Rhode Island if you:

  • Have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or higher
  • Are intoxicated by any psychoactive substance
  • Have any amount of a scheduled (illegal) drug in your system

The threshold for DUI is lower if you’re underage or a commercial driver. For commercial drivers, you’re considered to be DUI if you have a BAC of 0.04% or higher.

For underage drivers, DUI is determined by Zero Tolerance laws instead.

Zero Tolerance Laws for Rhode Island

Zero Tolerance laws send a message to minors about driving under the influence.

If you’re under 21 years old, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.02% or higher.

That means any amount of detectable alcohol in your blood could lead to a positive BAC test, and that even a single drink isn’t worth the risk.

Is Marijuana Legal in Rhode Island?

Cannabis is legal for recreational use in Rhode Island, as long as you follow the law around its use.

Adults over 18 can possess up to one ounce of cannabis.

You may not:

  • Distribute cannabis
  • Smoke cannabis in public
  • Smoke cannabis in private places where smoking is prohibited
  • Drive under the influence of cannabis

Drug and Alcohol-Related Crimes in Rhode Island

Drug and alcohol-related crimes in Rhode Island consist of:

  • Cultivating or manufacturing
  • Distributing
  • Intent to sell
  • Intent to distribute
  • Possession
  • Possession of paraphernalia
  • Prescription fraud and forgery
  • Smuggling, trafficking, or transporting

Penalties for Drug or Alcohol Crimes in Rhode Island

Each kind of drug charge carries its own penalty. These penalties can include:

  • Felony charges
  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Misdemeanor charges
  • Suspended license

As of 2019, the penalties for drug crimes in Rhode Island include:

  • Cultivating or manufacturing: This depends on the drug schedule. Cannabis carries a prison sentence of 10 years to life, up to $100,000 in fines.
  • Driving under the influence: Prison sentence of up to one year, $100 to $500 in fines, license suspension.
  • Intent to distribute: Prison sentence of one to 30 years, $3,000 to $100,000 in fines.
  • Possession: Prison sentence of three years, $5,000 in fines.
  • Possession of paraphernalia: Prison sentence of up to two years, up to $5,000 in fines.
  • Smuggling, trafficking, or transporting: Mandatory minimum prison sentences of five to 10 years.
  • Zero Tolerance: License suspension for six to 18 months, $500 in fines.

Most of these are first-time penalties, so if you offend more than once, the penalties get steeper. Also, many penalties depend on the drug schedule.

For serious drug charges that carry a felony record, the consequences can be lifelong. If you have a drug felony on your record, such as distribution or smuggling, you may never be able to get public housing or assistance.

You’ll also be banned from government-run school aid, employment opportunities, serving in the forces, and even driving.

The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice. Consult with an attorney before making decisions that could result in drug or alcohol charges.

Get Treatment for Substance Abuse in Rhode Island

If you think you need treatment, you probably do. Drugs can upend your personal and legal life, but they don’t have to do that. You’re in control more than you think.

The first step is to take that control and enter recovery. A drug-free life can be yours—it’s in your hands.

Call Rehab Adviser today to learn more about your treatment options!


  1. First offense DUI in Rhode Island <>
  2. FindLaw: Rhode Island DUI laws <
  3. Visit Rhode Island: Marijuana in Rhode Island <
  4. NORML: Marijuana laws in Rhode Island <
  5. FindLaw: Drug possession penalties and sentencing <

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