Fight Traffic Ticket in Rhode Island

Did you receive a traffic ticket in Rhode Island? Do you believe you have the means to prove it was issued unfairly? If so, keep reading for guidance on how you can fight your RI traffic citation.

Plead Not Guilty to Your RI Traffic Ticket

In order to plead not guilty to your Rhode Island traffic ticket, you must show up to your arraignment on the date printed on your citation. The following Rhode Island agencies oversee traffic violations:

  • Traffic Tribunal: State-level traffic charges.
  • Municipal courts: City-level violations.

Once you've pleaded not guilty, the court will assign you a date to return for trial.

If you miss your trial date, you could face consequences such as:

  • The court automatically finds you guilty of the traffic charge(s) you're contesting.
  • Driver's license suspension.
  • Car registration being suspended or revoked.
  • Warrant issued for your arrest.

If you still have questions about pleading not guilty to your citation, contact the RI Traffic Tribunal office or Rhode Island municipal court in charge of your case.

Implications of Pleading Not Guilty

A “not guilty" plea affirms that you are accepting your right to prove your innocence in court.

You're also confirming to the court that you:

  • Are willing to commit the time required to appear in court (possibly multiple times).
  • Acknowledge you could face jail time if found guilty of a serious charge, like DUI or DWI.
  • Are aware points could be added to your record.

Still wondering whether your ticket is worth the fight? Check out our guide on When to Fight a Traffic Ticket for help.

Contest Your RI Citation in Court

BEFORE heading to trial, consider hiring a RI traffic ticket attorney. In Rhode Island, the courts are not legally required to appoint you counsel for traffic violations, so if you don't hire your own lawyer, you'll have to represent yourself.

At trial, the process for contesting your RI traffic ticket before a judge will typically consist of the following:

  • Opening arguments from you (or your attorney) and the Rhode Island state prosecutor.
  • Both sides present evidence AND witnesses (if applicable).
  • Closing arguments from both sides.
  • You (or your attorney) and the state prosecutor have the opportunity make motions to dismiss the case.
  • Judge's verdict (if the case isn't dismissed).
    • If you're found guilty, you (or your lawyer) will have the chance to make a final statement to the judge before sentencing (i.e. penalties are assigned).
Guilty Verdicts & Your Car Insurance

A traffic conviction could lead to a major increase in your car insurance rate. Although court-induced penalties may be at the forefront of your mind, don't forget to read up on how traffic tickets can affect how much you pay for auto insurance.

Filing an Appeal in Rhode Island

If you're found guilty of your traffic charge(s) and want to contest the verdict, you can submit a Notice of Appeal to the RI Traffic Tribunal within 10 days of your conviction.

After Fighting Your RI Traffic Ticket

There are various outcomes to your traffic ticket fight, depending on whether you were found guilty or not.

Guilty Verdict

Depending on the seriousness of your traffic charges, once the judge finds you guilty, you could face any of the following penalties:

  • Suspended driver's license.
  • Fines.
    • Usually, you'll be expected to pay the entirety of your traffic fines on the day you receive a guilty conviction. The court may allow you to pay in installments if you can prove financial duress.
  • Points added to your RI driving record.
  • Jail sentence.

NOTE: If you're a commercial driver, you're required by federal law to notify your employer of traffic violations within 30 days of conviction.

TIP: Stay in (Traffic) School!

You may be required to complete a Rhode Island defensive driving course, depending on your violation. Check out our guide to traffic school in your state to find a course near you.

Not Guilty Verdict

If the judge finds you to be not guilty of the traffic violation(s), congrats! As a result, you can expect the following:

  • Your traffic ticket is dismissed.
  • No fines or penalties to deal with.
  • Auto insurance rates don't increase.
  • No points added to your record.

Your final step is to check your driving record to ensure that your RI traffic ticket doesn't still appear. Any errors on your driver history could lead to massive consequences down the road, including license suspension.

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