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Criminal Defense Lawyer S. Joshua Macktaz, Esq.

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Top RI Traffic Violations Lawyer Ready to Defend Your Charges

If you have received a Rhode Island speeding ticket or traffic citation for one of the many traffic offenses under Rhode Island traffic law, it is important to hire a law firm with the experience, knowledge and skills to defend you in traffic court (or municipal court) in order to avoid potentially harsh penalties. 

As a Rhode Island speeding ticket attorney for 27+ years, I have handled every single traffic violation in the state, multiple times. 

All RI speeding ticket attorneys are NOT the same, and the results in traffic court violations vary greatly depending on your lawyer’s effectiveness or ineffectiveness.  Getting a speeding ticket or other Rhode Island traffic violation is never fun, but hiring the right traffic violation lawyer to represent you will make the court process much easier.

Call Rhode Island Speeding Ticket Attorney S. Joshua Macktaz, Esquire today at 401.861.1155 for the best defense of your traffic violation

There are numerous Rhode Island traffic offenses which you must be aware of as a licensed driver, but a speeding violation is certainly the most common traffic offense charged by law enforcement. 

As an experienced and aggressive Rhode Island traffic violation lawyer I will give you the best chance at avoiding a traffic fine, and a driver’s license suspension, at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.


RI Speeding Ticket: Reasonable and Prudent Speeds 

§ 31-14-1 Reasonable and prudent speeds. – No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event, speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care. Violations of this section are subject to traffic fines enumerated in § 31-41.1-4.

RI Speeding Tickets: Speed Limits

§ 31-14-2 Prima facie limits.

(a) Where no special hazard exists that requires lower speed for compliance with § 31-14-1, the speed of any vehicle not in excess of the limits specified in this section or established as authorized in this title shall be lawful, but any speed in excess of the limits specified in this section or established as authorized in this title shall be prima facie evidence that the speed is not reasonable or prudent and that it is unlawful:

  • (1) Twenty-five miles per hour (25 mph) in any business or residence district;
  • (2) Fifty miles per hour (50 mph) in other locations during the daytime;
  • (3) Forty-five miles per hour (45 mph) in such other locations during the nighttime;
  • (4) Twenty miles per hour (20 mph) in the area within three hundred feet (300′) of any school house grounds’ entrances and exits during the daytime during the days when schools shall be open.
  • (5) The provisions of subdivision (4) of this subsection shall not apply except when appropriate warning signs are posted in proximity with the boundaries of the area within three hundred feet (300′) of the school house grounds, entrances, and exits.

(b) Daytime means from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. Nighttime means at any other hour.

(c) The prima facie speed limits set forth in this section may be altered as authorized in §§ 31-14-4 – 31-14-8.

RI Speeding Ticket: Conditions Requiring Reduced Speed

§ 31-14-3 Conditions requiring reduced speed.

(a) The driver of every vehicle shall, consistent with the requirements of § 31-14-1, drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hillcrest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, when special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions and in the presence of emergency vehicles displaying flashing lights as provided in § 31-24-31, tow trucks, transporter trucks, and roadside assistance vehicles displaying flashing amber lights while assisting a disabled motor vehicle. Violations of this section are subject to a traffic fine enumerated in § 31-41.1-4.

(b) When an authorized vehicle as described in subsection (a) is parked or standing within twelve feet (12′) of a roadway and is giving a warning signal by appropriate light, the driver of every other approaching vehicle shall, as soon as it is safe, and when not otherwise directed by an individual lawfully directing traffic, do one of the following:

  • (1) Move the vehicle into a lane that is not the lane nearest the parked or standing authorized emergency vehicle and continue traveling in that lane until safely clear of the authorized emergency vehicle. This paragraph applies only if the roadway has at least two (2) lanes for traffic proceeding in the direction of the approaching vehicle and if the approaching vehicle may change lanes safely and without interfering with any vehicular traffic.
  • (2) Slow the vehicle, maintain a safe speed for traffic conditions, and operate the vehicle at a reduced speed until completely past the authorized emergency vehicle. This paragraph applies only if the roadway has only one lane for traffic proceeding in the direction of the approaching vehicle or if the approaching vehicle may not change lanes safely and without interfering with any vehicular traffic.

Violations of this section are subject to traffic fines enumerated in § 31-41.1-4.

RI Speeding Ticket: Reduction of Speeds at Intersections or Residential Areas

§ 31-14-5 Reduction by local authorities of speed limits at local intersections and streets within business or residence districts.

Whenever local authorities within their respective jurisdictions determine upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that the prima facie speed permitted under this chapter at any intersection or local street within a business or residence districts is greater than is reasonable or safe under the conditions found to exist at the intersection, or local street within business or residence districts, the local authority, subject to § 31-14-8, shall determine and declare a reasonable and safe prima facie speed limit at that place, which shall be effective at all times or during hours of daylight or darkness or at any other times that may be determined when appropriate signs giving notice of it are erected at the intersection or local street within a business or residence district or at its approaches.

RI Speeding Tickets: Minimum Speeds

§ 31-14-9 Minimum speed.

(a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

(b) Police officers are authorized to enforce this provision by directions to drivers, and in the event of apparent willful disobedience to this provision and refusal to comply with direction of an officer in accordance with this section, the continued slow operation by a driver shall be a civil violation and is subject to a traffic fine as enumerated in § 31-41.1-4.

RI Speeding Ticket: Speed Limits on Bridges and Structures

§ 31-14-12 Speed limits on bridges and structures.

(a) No person shall drive a vehicle over any bridge or other elevated structure constituting a part of a highway at a speed which is greater than the maximum speed which can be maintained with safety to the bridge or structure, when the structure is signposted as provided in this section.

(b) The state traffic commission upon request from any local authority shall, or upon its own initiative may, conduct an investigation of any bridge or other elevated structure constituting a part of a highway. If it shall find that the structure cannot with safety to itself withstand vehicles traveling at the speed otherwise permissible under this chapter, the commission shall determine and declare the maximum speed of vehicles which the structure can withstand, and shall cause or permit suitable signs stating the maximum speed to be erected and maintained at a distance of one hundred feet (100′) before each end of the structure.

(c) Upon the trial of any person charged with a violation of this section, proof of the determination of the maximum speed by the commission and the existence of the signs shall constitute conclusive evidence of the maximum speed which can be maintained with safety to the bridge or structure.

(d) Violations of this section are subject to traffic fines enumerated in § 31-41.1-4.

If you have been issued a traffic citation for any of the above speed limit violations, an experienced and knowledgeable traffic violation attorney can help you avoid a costly traffic fine, insurance premium increases and a suspended license.  


  • Using the breakdown lane for travel: This lane is exclusively for motorists who cannot safely operate a vehicle and need to pull over for assistance.  Operating in the breakdown lane will result in a traffic citation being issued by police or law enforcement.
  • Failing to halt at stop signs or red lights or other traffic devices: Not following all the signs, especially regulatory signs, can cause fatal accidents and disrupt the flow of traffic for hours.
  • Aggressive driving: Not conducive to safe passage while sharing the road with others. This traffic ticket requires the operator of a motor vehicle commit multiple traffic offenses at same time, including exceeding the speed limit.  A conviction for aggressive driving will always result in a loss of driving privilege.  Further, an aggressive driving traffic ticket could also lead to the criminal offense of reckless driving.
  • Failing to use turning signals: Punishment for this traffic ticket may seem unfair, however, using a turn signal properly alerts others to your intended actions.
  • Lane roadway violations: Swerving between lanes, splitting lanes, and other inappropriate use of the lane can affect how others react to your erratic driving.  Multiple lane roadway violations can also amount to the criminal offense of reckless driving.
  • Following too closely: Not only is following too closely perceived as aggressive, but it can also cause you to rear-end someone who has to stop short, resulting in personal injury. Allow for plenty of space in front of you to avoid rear-end collisions.
  • Failure to yield the right of way to another vehicle: Other motorists have the right of way depending on the nearby signs, or the emergency status of the motor vehicle.  A failure to yield right of way will result in a Rhode Island traffic ticket.
  • Crossing over a median: Drivers must not cross areas expressly intent for official use at any time.
  • Failure to use a seat belt: A seat belt can save your life and is mandatory for all occupants of the motor vehicle.
  • Illegal window tint: Only legal tint, as described in RIGL 31-23.3, is permissible.
  • Failure to yield to pedestrians: Pedestrians and bicyclists have rights to access the road, which drivers must share at all times. A violation of this traffic law can result in personal injury and a suspended license.
  • Failure to secure a load to your vehicle: If you are transporting any sort of cargo, ensure it is secure before taking to the streets.
  • Illegal use of the carpool lane: Carpool lanes are solely for vehicles with two or more passengers within.
  • Distracted driving: Text messaging, surfing the web, or doing anything that takes your attention from the road is illegal.  Depending on the Judge or Magistrate hearing your case in traffic court, a conviction for distracted driving can result in loss of driver license.
  • Driving outside of license stipulations: Whether you do not have a driver’s license or your driving privilege is suspended, you may not operate a motor vehicle.  Operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license leads to traffic fines and a further suspension of your driver’s license.  Further, if a person is caught driving with a license that is suspended for a DUI, breathalyzer refusal or other drunk driving criminal offense, the Court will impose a mandatory 10 days in jail.
  • Driving in a bus lane: Lanes marked for bus use only do not permit personal motor vehicles within.
  • Failure to stop after a car accident: Rhode Island traffic law requires anyone involved in a motor vehicle collision must stay at the scene of the accident. Failure to do so will result in a criminal offense of leaving the scene of an accident.


In 2015, Rhode Island traffic law added what is known as the Colin B. Foote Law.  Rhode Island traffic courts and municipal courts now impose harsh penalties for driver’s who commit multiple moving violations in a short period of time.  If you have been charged with a Colin Foote citation, you need the best Rhode Island traffic violation lawyer to help avoid these penalties.  This is the Colin B. Foote Law:

§ 31-27-24. Multiple moving offenses.

(a) Every person convicted of moving violations on four (4) separate and distinct occasions within an eighteen (18) month period may be fined up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), and shall be ordered to attend sixty (60) hours of driver retraining, shall be ordered to perform sixty (60) hours of public community service, and the person’s operator license in this state may be suspended up to one year or revoked by the court for a period of up to two (2) years. Prior to the suspension or revocation of a person’s license to operate within the state, the court shall make specific findings of fact and determine if the person’s continued operation of a motor vehicle would pose a substantial traffic safety hazard.

(b) At the expiration of the time of revocation as set by the court pursuant to subsection (a) above, the person may petition that court for restoration of his or her privilege to operate a motor vehicle in this state. The license privilege shall not thereafter be reinstated until evidence satisfactory to the court, following a hearing, establishes that no grounds exist which would authorize refusal to issue a license and until the person gives proof of financial responsibility pursuant to chapter 32 of this title.

(c) For the purposes of this section only, the term “moving violations” shall mean any violation of the following sections of the general laws:

  • (1) 31-13-4. Obedience to devices.
  • (2) 31-14-1. Reasonable and prudent speeds.
  • (3) 31-14-2. Prima facie limits.
  • (4) 31-14-3. Conditions requiring reduced speeds.
  • (5) 31-15-5. Overtaking on the right.
  • (6) 31-15-11. Laned roadways.
  • (7) 31-15-12. Interval between vehicles.
  • (8) 31-15-16. Use of emergency break-down lanes for travel.
  • (9) 31-17-4. Vehicle entering stop or yield intersection.
  • (10) 31-20-9. Obedience to stop signs.
  • (11) 31-27.1-3. “Aggressive driving” defined.


In addition to the above, there are more severe, criminal offense major moving violations which can result in expensive fines and an increase in jail time. They are also more likely to result in a fatal accident.

  • Driving under the Influence: Regardless of whether you have drugs or alcohol in your system, the criminal charge of driving under the influence, or breathalyzer refusal, come with severe moving violation penalties.  Check out DUI for more information about Rhode Island DUI charges.
  • Reckless Driving: This encompasses many actions such as speeding, following too closely, aggressive driving, swerving in and out of lanes, honking for any reason other than to warn others, and so on.


Rhode Island traffic law actually looks to give a break to motorists who have a good driving record.  Under this law, if you have had no moving violations within the past 3 years, certain traffic violations including some speeding tickets, can be dismissed by the Court without penalty, and without going on your good driving record.  A person is then only responsible to pay court costs.  This law is available to a Rhode Island driver or an out-of-state driver.  As an experienced and knowledgeable traffic ticket attorney, I am able to tell you over the phone if you are eligible to have your traffic offense dismissed under this RI traffic law.  This is the Rhode Island Good Driving Law:

§ 31-41.1-7 Application for dismissal based on good driving record. – (a) Any person who has had a motor vehicle operator’s license for more than three (3) years, and who has been issued traffic violations which are his or her first violations within the preceding three (3) years, may request a hearing seeking a dismissal of the violations based upon the operator’s good driving record.

(b) Upon submission of proper proof that the operator has not been issued any other traffic violation within the past three (3) years, the charge shall, except for good cause shown or as otherwise provided by law, be dismissed based upon a good driving record; provided, that the operator pay a thirty-five dollar ($35.00) administrative fee for court costs associated with the dismissal.

(c) The traffic tribunal may not dismiss a charge pursuant to this section after six (6) months from the date of disposition. For purposes of this section, a parking ticket shall not constitute a prior violation.

(d) The following violations shall not be dismissed pursuant to this statute:

  • (1) Any violation within the original jurisdiction of superior or district court;
  • (2) A refusal to submit to a chemical test of breath, blood or urine pursuant to § 31-27-2.1;
  • (3) Any violation involving a school bus;
  • (4) Any violation involving an accident where there has been property damage or personal injury;
  • (5) Any speeding violation in excess of fourteen miles per hour (14 m.p.h.) above the posted speed limit;
  • (6) Any violation involving child restraints in motor vehicles pursuant to § 31-22-22;
  • (7) Any violation committed by a holder of a commercial license as defined in § 31-10.3-3 or any violation committed in a commercial motor vehicle as defined in § 31-10.3-3 by an operator who does not hold a commercial license.

(e) If the charge is dismissed pursuant to this section, records of the dismissal shall be maintained for a period of three (3) years.

(f) The judge or magistrate shall have the discretion to waive court costs and fees when dismissing a violation pursuant to this section, with the exception of the mandatory thirty-five dollars ($35.00) administrative fee provided for in § 31-41.1-7(b).


  • Former Rhode Island State Prosecutor
  • Judges, Lawyers and Police Officers refer family and friends to my law firm for representation
  • 27+ years of experience in Rhode Island traffic law and criminal law
  • 300+ Five Star online reviews across all platforms
  • Aggressive, experienced and personal representation of all clients 
  • Strong and long-standing relationships with all Rhode Island Judges and prosecutors 
  • My goal in every case is DISMISSAL of the traffic citation
  • I will be the lawyer reviewing and overseeing your case and I will be the attorney standing next to you in court.  Unlike so many other RI criminal defense law offices, I do NOT send associates to do my job.  I am in traffic court every week, and I strongly believe each client deserves this personal service.
  • I copy every client on every single document coming into the law office, or leaving the office, regarding their case.  I think it is critical for every client to be well-informed and fully engaged in the process.  Defending your Rhode Island traffic violation is truly a team effort.
  • All calls and emails will be returned by me, not an associate, within a few hours of receiving the email or call.  
  • I provide a free and comprehensive initial consultation in all new cases.
  • I am available 24/7/365

Call S. Joshua Macktaz, Esq. today for a free consultation at

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