By News Staff

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – A new law has taken effect in Rhode Island to increase the penalty for being convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child in the vehicle.

The General Assembly said Friday it was one of many bills the governor signed this week. It took effect immediately.

The legislation adds an immediate license suspension and fine for a first offense. The violation had already triggered an additional sentence of up to a year in prison that can't be suspended or deferred.

A subsequent conviction would become a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, license suspension, fines and other penalties.

Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, a Providence Democrat, and Rep. Robert Nardolillo, a Coventry Republican, sponsored it, saying there needs to be more serious consequences for the offense.

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