Rhode Island Court Records

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What Are Rhode Island Traffic Court Records

Rhode Island traffic court records refer to documents related to traffic violations tried under the state’s traffic laws by the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal (RITT) or Municipal Court. In addition to traffic tickets, they also include arraignments, motions, trials, and citations that concern the case. There are over a hundred thousand traffic violations in Rhode Island every year. For each of these violations, traffic tickets are issued. The Rhode Island Judiciary maintains these traffic records whether they are resolved in court or by fine. The state’s traffic records are available to members of the public.

Which Courts in Rhode Island Have Jurisdiction to Hear Traffic Violation Matters?

Rhode Island Municipal Courts and the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal are the two courts tasked with hearing traffic violation matters in the state. The state’s Division of Motors and Vehicles handles issues involving driving and vehicle licenses and records. However, the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal is the main court with jurisdiction over traffic offenses.

The Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal was established in 1999 by the General Assembly to oversee all traffic-related cases. Prior to its creation, the Administrative Adjudication Court had general jurisdiction over such cases. The Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal is presided over by the chief magistrate. While it receives direct cases, it also has an appellate panel that hears appeals from the Tribunal and Municipal Courts.

What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Rhode Island

When a motorist violates a Rhode Island traffic law, they are liable to receive a ticket.After receiving a Rhode Island traffic ticket, the ticketed individual can:

  • Pay the ticket
  • Request a dismissal of ticket
  • Request a mitigation hearing
  • Contest the ticket in court

Pay The Ticket

The quickest way to resolve a traffic ticket is by paying the ticket. This option is, however, only available for minor traffic offenses. A traffic offender can either pay the fine online, in person or with a check sent by mail.

However, paying a traffic ticket is an admission of guilt and removes the right of the individual to challenge the ticket. Furthermore, paying the ticket may add points to the motorist’s driving record for a period of three years. A motorist that receives three traffic tickets within a year must appear before the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.

The Tribunal may recommend other penalties including the suspension of the offender’s driving license for a short while. License suspension may extend to a year if the number of tickets increases to four within an 18-month window. Additional penalties include 60 hours of driver training classes and 60 hours of community service.

Request a Dismissal Of Ticket On Grounds Of Good Driving Record

In accordance with the provision of Rhode Island General Law, a motorist with a good driving record can file for dismissal of a ticket. This clause can only be invoked if the motorist doesn't have any record of violations within the past 3 years. Also, this plea can only be made at the RITT, and the motorist must be present at the hearing.

Request a Mitigation Hearing

A ticketed motorist may request a mitigation hearing after pleading guilty to a traffic violation. If granted, the court may offer them any of the following mitigated penalties:

  • Reduced fine
  • Installmental payment of fine
  • Community service

Challenge the Ticket at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal

The last option available is to fight the ticket at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal or Municipal Court. Each traffic ticket includes details of court venue, court appearance date, and other information needed to initiate a court challenge to a ticket.If the traffic court reaches a not-guilty verdict, it will invalidate the ticket and remove it from the motorist’s driving record.

How Do I Look Up My Traffic Ticket in Rhode Island?

If the traffic ticket names the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal as the adjudication body, visit the Rhode Island Judiciary Public Portal to search for details of the ticket and associated case files. For a ticket listing a Rhode Island Municipal Court, visit the website of the city where the court is located and navigate to the Municipal Traffic Court page. If the city’s website does not provide an online lookup for traffic tickets, call the Municipal Traffic Court using the listed phone number.

How Do I Pay a Traffic Ticket in Rhode Island?

  • If the ticket lists the RITT as the hearing location, pay the fine amount online by visiting the Rhode Island Judiciary Public Portal or following the payment instructions on the ticket
  • To pay a ticket listing a Rhode Island Municipal Court, visit the website of the city where it is located and find the Traffic Court pages. Most Municipal Traffic Courts in the state allow motorists to pay their tickets in person, by mail, online, and by calling toll-free lines

How Do I Find a Rhode Island Traffic Court Record?

To access a traffic court record in person, visit the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal or the Municipal Court where the case was tried. The Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal is located at:

670 New London Avenue
Cranston, Rhode Island 02920
Clerk's Office - Second Floor, Room 2005
Telephone: (401) 275-2700 or (401) 275-2379 (TTY)
Fax: (401) 275-2359

Alternatively, contact the Judicial Record Center by calling or visiting:

5 Hill Street
Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02860
Telephone (401) 721-2641 or (401) 721-2640
Facsimile (401) 721-2653

Additionally, publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:

  • The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
  • The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name

Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.

How Can I Access Rhode Island Traffic Court Record Online

Records of traffic tickets in Rhode Island can be accessed online through the Rhode Island Judiciary Public Portal. This portal offers two ways of accessing records online

  • Smart Search: To access any traffic record through this medium, enter the record number or the name of the traffic offender
  • Search Hearing: This allows more advanced searches. Simply select the court where the case was heard, type of case, and court dates

How to Contest a Traffic Ticket in Rhode IslandCourts

To contest a traffic ticket, a motorist must appear at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal or the Municipal Court named on the ticket. The individual must appear on the court date listed on the ticket and plead not guilty at the arraignment. Following this, the magistrate/judge will set a date for the trial.

The accused and the law enforcement officer who issued the ticket must be present at the trial. While ticketed motorists can represent themselves in Rhode Island Traffic Courts, hiring attorneys specialized in the state’s traffic laws is highly recommended especially for serious traffic violations. If the law enforcement office that issued the ticket fails to show up at the trial, the accused and/or their legal counsel can file a motion to dismiss the case and nullify the ticket.

Even when the law enforcement officer who issued the ticket shows up, the accused can still reach an agreement without a trial. This outcome is referred to as disposition. It can lead to an an outright dismissal of the ticket or mitigated penalties like:

  • Reduction of fine
  • Driver retraining
  • Community service
  • Works of charity

After the agreement, the accused and the officer would proceed to the magistrate/judge for the disposition to be approved. The magistrate/judge may fix a new date to ascertain that the accused meets the conditions of the disposition. In other instances, the disposition may be approved without any further hearing.

If the accused fails to show up at the trial, the magistrate can give a default judgment to the accused in absentia. The judgment will include a fine, court fee, and any other penalty the magistrate/judge deems fit.

If the trial proceeds, the prosecutor will call the ticking officer to testify and present evidence justifying the charges on the ticket. Other witnesses may be called to support the prosecutor’s claims. The accused or his legal counsel may then cross-examine the officer and the prosecutor’s witnesses. Following this, the defence team will present their arguments, evidence, and witnesses. The judge will then rule after both parties present their claims.

If the judge finds the accused not guilty, the case will be dismissed. Also, the fine will not stand; no court fee will be paid, and the charges won’t appear on the accused’s driving record.

If, however, the accused is found guilty, a sentence will be passed. It will include fines, court fees, license suspension, community service, and/or, driver retraining. If the accused is dissatisfied with the ruling, he/she can choose to appeal the court’s ruling at the appellate arm of the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.

How To File An Appeal Against A Traffic Violation Ruling In Rhode Island

The appeal must be filed within ten days of the judgment. The following are needed for the appeal:

  • A completed Notice of Appeal sent to the appellate panel
  • An appeal fee of $25
  • Transcript of the trial which costs $10 per recording
  • Certified copy of the appeal notice submitted to the police department where the ticket was issued
  • A written brief submitted to the court where the case was tried

The appellate panel will review the case files and ascertain the judgment was right or not in accordance with the state’s traffic laws. However, there will be no new trial. The appellate will reach a decision solely from the available record and the law.

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