AG Kilmartin looks to General Assembly to stiffen DUI penalties

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s top prosecutor is pushing for legislation in connection to people convicted of killing or injuring people while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says driving while intoxicated or impaired is like playing with a loaded firearm.

“Every individual who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle while intoxicated is knowingly risking their own life and the life of others on the road,” Kilmartin said in a news release. “The penalties for such a deadly and callous decision should reflect the seriousness of the act, and there can be nothing more serious than taking the life of another.”

Kilmartin proposes several pieces of legislation including increases in the length of imprisonment for DUI death resulting or serious bodily injury; creating a criminal offense of driving under the influence resulting in injury; and extending the “look back” period.

In Rhode Island, anyone convicted of DUI with death resulting currently serves a maximum of 15 years in prison. Under new legislation, that punishment could be a much as 30 years behind bars, as well as a maximum fine of $20,000, and license revocation for up to 10 years.

Anyone convicted of DUI resulting in serious bodily injury, you could face 20 years behind bars. You’ll also see a fine up to $10,000 and license revocation up to five years.

Legislation would also increase imprisonment sanctions for driving to endanger resulting in death. The penalty for that would be 20 years.

A second piece of legislation Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is proposing is to create a criminal offense for DUI resulting in injury. The attorney general said the primary goal is to address situations where injury results from driving under the influence.

If passed, those in violation could face three years and have his or her license suspended up to a year.

The final piece of legislation being proposed is to extend the “look back” period.

The “look back” would increase to 10 years in alcohol-related offenses. In the Ocean State, the current “look back” period is five years.

“One of the toughest jobs for a prosecutor or victim advocate for these measures is to explain to a family who lost a loved one at the hands of an impaired driver,” Kilmartin says.