Arkansas DWI 1st Offense – All You Need to Know 2024

Kevin M. Lemley

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is never a safe option. Many harmful things could happen while you are behind the wheel if your judgment is impaired. If you are pulled over and charged with a DWI, your life could take a negative turn. You need the help of an Arkansas DWI attorney to pursue a favorable outcome in your DWI case.

DWIs can result in jail time, fines and fees, and the revocation of your driver’s license for a set period of time, depending on how many offenses you’ve had in the past. Jail time, fines, and time without your license will only increase as you incur more DWI charges. An attorney may help reduce your time in jail or even prove your innocence in court.

What Happens After Your First DWI Offense?

You could be arrested for three different blood-alcohol concentrations (BACs), depending on your age and what vehicle you drive. If you are over 21, your BAC cannot be 0.08% or higher. If you are under 21, your BAC cannot be 0.02% or higher. Finally, if you are driving a commercial vehicle, your BAC cannot be 0.04% or higher. If you reach these BACs on a breathalyzer test, you could be arrested and charged with a DWI.

After your first offense, you could spend anywhere from one day to one year in prison or receive a public service sentence. The fine is anywhere from $150-$1,000, and your license will be revoked for six months.

Fortunately, your first DWI is likely only considered a misdemeanor, not a felony. Your first three DWIs are misdemeanors. If you incur a fourth charge or more within ten years, they are considered felonies. These felony charges result in higher fines and more prison time than misdemeanors.

What to Do Next

Once you are arrested, it’s time to hire an attorney. A DWI is considered a strict liability offense, meaning the prosecution doesn’t need to prove whether you meant to drive under the influence or not. Strict liability, more specifically, means the court does not have to prove whether you had the actus reus (guilty act) or mens rea (guilty mind) to commit the crime of driving under the influence. If you are found to have driven while intoxicated, that is enough to convict you.

You need an attorney who can protect your rights during the legal process. Unfortunately, the charges cannot be reduced, but the consequences could be.

Your attorney can look at the evidence, call witnesses, and have your arrest examined for any mistakes or errors. If any of these options are able to prove your innocence, you could be found innocent of the charges. The attorney can also help you argue for favorable sentencing should you be found guilty.

What Happens if I Get Another DWI Charge?

After your first DWI charge, your fines, prison time, and period of time without your driver’s license only increase. Below is a list of how these penalties increase in severity:

  • Second offense: It is still a misdemeanor, but your potential prison time increases to at least one week and up to one year. You could receive community service instead of prison time. Your fines also increase to $400-$3,000, and your license is revoked for two years.
  • Third offense: This is the last misdemeanor charge. Imprisonment increases to at least 90 days and up to one year. Just as before, you could receive community service instead. The fines will increase to $900-$5,000, and you lose your license for 30 months.
  • Fourth offense and up: You have finally graduated to a felony charge. You could spend anywhere from one to six years in prison, and you could pay $900-$5,000 in fines and fees. You lose your license for four years.
  • When you incur your fifth and sixth offenses, you could spend up to twenty years in prison and pay up to $15,000 in fines and fees.

These charges stay on your driving record for five years. However, when you are charged with a DWI, any prior offense within the last ten years will be considered in regard to your charges and penalties. The charges will remain on your criminal record after those ten years, but they will no longer count against each other.


Q: What Happens After a First-Offense DWI in Arkansas?

A: On your first DWI offense, you receive a fine of anywhere from $150-$1,000, and you could spend a day or up to a year in prison. Instead of prison, you could also receive a public service sentence. After all of this, your driver’s license could be revoked for six months.

Q: How Do You Beat a DWI in Arkansas?

A: For a first-offense DWI, your attorney can check any equipment used during your arrest, such as body cameras, view the footage of your arrest, or call in witnesses to see how the arrest happened and what you were doing while driving. If there are any errors or mistakes that were made, you could be found innocent.

Q: Can a DWI Be Reduced in Arkansas?

A: If you had hoped to have your DWI reduced to a reckless driving charge, that, unfortunately, is not an option. A DWI charge in Arkansas cannot be reduced. Since it is a strict liability offense, it cannot be changed once it has been proven by a chemical test that you were driving under the influence.

Q: Do You Need a Lawyer for DWI in Arkansas?

A: An attorney is helpful when it comes to any legal matter. They can help ensure your rights are protected during the legal process. They can also help you fight for a shorter sentence if you are found guilty. Trying to go about your case alone could result in a less favorable outcome for you later on.

Contact an Experienced Arkansas DWI Attorney From Lemley Law Partners

The long-lasting effects of a DWI charge can completely change your life. You need an experienced attorney to help you see the results you deserve. Contact Lemley Law Partners today to see what we can do to help you after a DWI arrest.