Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Defense Attorneys

Rhode Island Motor vehicle laws govern the operation of vehicles on public roads.   These laws include felony and misdemeanor crimes that are prosecuted in Rhode Island Superior and District Courts, as well as civil violations or infractions that are adjudicated in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.

What are Motor Vehicle Offenses?

Examples include:

  • operating vehicles that are either unregistered or with expired registrations
  • uninsured or with expired insurance policies
  • illegal registration plates
  • without valid inspections
  • exhaust systems that create annoyances or disturbances from their loud sound
  • windows with dark tint

Other examples include operating a vehicle in a reckless or negligent manner so as to jeopardize the safety of others.

It is also illegal to leave or drive away from the scene of a motor vehicle accident in which you are involved. Fleeing or failing to stop for police for the police is a criminal act. Similarly, it is a crime for failing to yield to emergency vehicles or school buses.

A Motor Vehicle Offense may be characterized as a traffic violation, misdemeanor of felony offense.

Motor Vehicle Offenses, depending on type and severity, may have consequences ranging from license restrictions, fines and even jail. Such offenses may also impact you privilege to operating a vehicle or possess a driver’s license.

A few things to keep in mind when you get pulled over by a police officer

  1. First, pull over as soon as it is safe for you to do so, but not in a hurried or reckless fashion
  2. Second, shut off your radio, and leave your mobile phone alone. Prepare yourself by getting your license and registration ready for when the officer reaches your vehicle.
  3. Third, remain in your vehicle unless the officer asks you to step out of it, or it is on fire.
  4. Fourth, if it is dark outside, turn on your interior lights to be considerate to the officer.
  5. And finally, don’t say a word. Let the officer speak first and listen to what they are saying.

Aside from everyday civil vehicle offenses like parking tickets, speeding tickets, and other minor traffic infractions, drivers and pedestrians alike can be affected by the negligent, risky driving behavior of other motorists.

We have all had moments where our driving skills were less than perfect, however if you are operating a motor vehicle illegally, or under the influence of a controlled substance and you are pulled over by an officer, you stand to face substantial criminal charges, and will need the help of a lawyer to safely navigate your way.

Read our case results and testimonials for motor vehicle offenses.


Learn more about motor vehicle offenses below:

Other Common Motor Vehicle Offenses

Under Rhode Island law, there are other Motor Vehicle offenses for which a person may be charged criminally.   There is also a complex web of civil motor vehicle infractions that are not punishable criminally with potential terms of incarceration, probation, or otherwise.  However, if issued a citation and found responsible for a civil motor vehicle infraction, a motorist may be required to pay a civil assessment.

Traffic violations are handled in the Traffic Tribunal or the Municipal Court of the city or town that issued the citation.  Responsible findings are reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles and are reported on a motorist’s driving record. 

The more responsible findings that are reported, the more likely that a motorist may face an administrative license suspension imposed by the DMV.   Civil motor vehicle infractions are often charged in conjunction with DUI and other criminal motor vehicle offenses but may also be imposed individually such as when police stop a motorist and issue a ticket or citation.

Below is a list of common Motor Vehicle Offenses that a person may be charged with criminally under Rhode Island law.

  • Duty to Stop in Accidents Resulting in Personal Injury (R.I.G.L §31-26-1)
  • Duty to Stop in Accidents Resulting in Damage to Vehicle (R.I.G.L §31-26-2)
  • Duty to Give Information and Render Aid (R.I.G.L §31-26-3)
  • Reckless Driving (R.I.G.L §31-27-4)
  • Eluding a Law Enforcement Officer with Motor Vehicle (R.I.G.L §31-27-4.1)
  • Street Racing (R.I.G.L §31-27-22)

Below is a list of common Civil Motor Vehicle Infractions that a person may be cited for under Rhode Island law.

  • Duty to Stop in Accident Resulting in Injury or Death or Domesticated Animal (R.I.G.L §31-26-3.1)
  • Failure to Report an Accident (R.I.G.L §31-26-11)
  • Failure to File an Accident Report (R.I.G.L §31-33-2)
  • Operating After Denial, Suspension or Revocation of License (R.I.G.L §31-11-18)
  • Operating with Expired License (R.I.G.L §31-10-30)
  • Operation of Unregistered Vehicle (R.I.G.L §31-3-1)
  • Operating with Expired Registration (R.I.G.L §31-3-32)
  • Operating an Uninsured Vehicle (R.I.G.L §31-47-9)
  • Operation of Vehicle with Suspended, Canceled, or Revoked Registration (R.I.G.L §31-8-2)
  • Operation of Vehicle without Evidence of Registration (R.I.G.L §31-8-1)
  • Aggressive Driving (R.I.G.L §31-27.1-3)
  • Operating a Motor Vehicle on a Bicycle Lane, Trail or Path (R.I.G.L §31-27-19)
  • Multiple Moving Violations (R.I.G.L §31-27-24)
  • Speeding (R.I.G.L §31-14-1)
  • Leaving Lane of Travel (R.I.G.L §31-15-1)
  • Crossing Over Center Lane (R.I.G.L §31-15-3)
  • Overtaking in Prohibited Area (R.I.G.L §31-15-7)
  • Passing in a No Passing Zone (R.I.G.L §31-15-8)
  • Following too Closely (R.I.G.L §31-15-12)
  • Failure to Use Turn Signal (R.I.G.L §31-16-5)
  • Failure to Yield (R.I.G.L §31-17-1)
  • Failure to Stop at Stop Sign (R.I.G.L §31-20-9)
  • Child Car Seat Violations (R.I.G.L §31-22-22)
  • Seat Belt Violations (R.I.G.L §31-22-22)
  • No Inspection Sticker (R.I.G.L §31-38-3)
  • Littering (R.I.G.L §37-15-7)
  • Non-Transparent Window/Windshield Material (R.I.G.L §31-23.3-2)
  • License Plate Violations (R.I.G.L §31-3-18 & 31-24-9)
  • Traffic Light Violations (R.I.G.L §31-13-4)
  • Head and Tail Light Violations (R.I.G.L §31-24-4 & 31-24-7)
  • Stop and Turn Lamp Violations (R.I.G.L §31-24-12 & 31-24-13)

If you have been charged with a motor vehicle offense and need representation, contact the RI Criminal Defense Attorneys at Law Office of John L. Calcagni III by email or call today at (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation.