Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney Praises Bill That Would Toughen State’s Drunk Driving Laws

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Legislation recently introduced in the Rhode Island Senate would help to reduce state’s ‘epidemic’ of drunk driving accidents and fatalities, Providence lawyer Mark Gemma says.

Let’s face it: We have an epidemic of drunk driving accidents and deaths in this state, and this bill represents the type of aggressive action we need in order to cure it.

A bill recently filed in the Rhode Island Senate would decrease the risk of drunk-driving accidents by increasing the state’s DWI penalties, Providence car accident attorney Mark Gemma said this week.

“Let’s face it: We have an epidemic of drunk driving accidents and deaths in this state, and this bill represents the type of aggressive action we need in order to cure it,” said Gemma, a lawyer with the firm of Gemma Law Associates, Inc., who represents DUI / DWI accident victims and their families throughout the state of Rhode Island.

“This bill, in particular, would crack down on repeat offenders who either don’t care or don’t realize that they’re putting so many innocent motorists at risk with their reckless conduct,” Gemma said. “Hopefully, knowing the penalties they will face if they’re caught will get these habitual drunk drivers off our roads and eliminate the car accidents they cause.”

State senators from Smithfield, Johnston and Pawtucket introduced the bill, S.B. 0028, at the start of this year’s session to revise Rhode Island’s DWI laws. The bill would:

  •     Strengthen the penalty for a person with a suspended or revoked license who is caught driving intoxicated or refusing a breath test. The punishment would include a fine of up to $3,000 and up to three years in prison.
  •     Establish a minimum 30-day prison sentence for anyone who is convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or higher.
  •     Impose greater punishment for those who repeatedly refuse to give breath tests. An offender would face a mandatory six-month prison sentence for two refusals within a 10-year period and could face a felony charge and up to five years in prison for a third refusal within a 10-year span.
  •     Require certain convicted drunk drivers to have ignition interlock devices installed in their cars in order to get their driver’s license back. This device involves a breath test. If the test registers a BAC above a certain level, the car will not start.

“These are stiff penalties, and it’s about time,” Gemma said. “Our law firm has represented many families through the years whose lives were devastated by drunk drivers. The victims of drunk drivers are the ones we’re most concerned about protecting.”

As recently as 2004, Rhode Island ranked first in the country in the percentage of traffic fatalities related to drunk driving. The latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that drunk driving contributes to 40 percent of the state’s annual traffic fatalities.

“If a negligent driver injures someone while driving drunk, they need to be held accountable,” Gemma said. “Our law firm also believes strongly in making sure that drunk driving victims and their families are fully and fairly compensated for their financial losses, physical pain and emotional suffering.”

About Gemma Law Associates, Inc.

Gemma Law Associates, Inc., is a Providence, R.I. personal injury law firm that has represented the people of Rhode Island for more than 48 years while earning a reputation for success in several practice areas, including drunk driving accidents (DWIs / DUIs), car accidents, personal injury, workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, divorce, criminal defense and bankruptcy law. The law firm’s staff works as a team to ensure success in cases and is backed by a state-of-the-art collection of resources, including an advanced computerized case management system and an extensive legal library.

The firm represents clients throughout the state of Rhode Island, including Providence, Pawtucket, Warwick, Washington County and Newport County. To learn more about Gemma Law Associates, Inc., call (401) 467-2300 or use the firm’s online contact form.

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