Arkansas DWI Laws and Penalties – All You Need to Know

Kevin M. Lemley

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol creates danger, so DWI is taken very seriously by the State of Arkansas and carries significant penalties. DWIs aren’t treated as a traffic violation but rather as a crime. Anyone charged with a crime is given the presumption of innocence, and it is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove that there was a violation of these laws. You can offer a strong defense against these accusations by working with a Cabot, AR, DWI attorney.

DWI Criteria in Arkansas

A DWI is a charge levied when a driver’s ability to control their vehicle and drive safely is impaired by alcohol or a drug. Generally, there are two ways that someone could be charged with a DWI. One way is if it can be shown that intoxication of some sort was inhibiting a driver’s motor functions in a way that would inhibit their ability to operate their vehicles safely and would create danger for others.

The other possible path to a DWI is a “per se” DWI. This means that, regardless of their ability to operate a vehicle or not, a driver is presumed to be a risk because their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) meets or exceeds a particular threshold. A driver’s BAC is determined by a chemical test. There is an implicit understanding that by driving on Arkansas roads, drivers consent to a BAC upon request. The thresholds for a DWI are:

  • For drivers the age of 21 or older: a BAC of 0.08%
  • For drivers under the age of 21: a BAC of 0.02%
  • For commercial vehicle operators: A BAC of 0.04%

DWI Penalties in Arkansas

DWI penalties in Arkansas can consist of an array of different things, including license suspensions, fines, and jail time. The specifics of potential penalties depend primarily on the number of prior offenses a person has had within the look-back period. In Arkansas, the look-back period is now ten years. If this is a driver’s first, second, or third DWI in a ten-year period, then it is a misdemeanor with the following penalties:

  • 1st Offense A six-month license revocation, a fine of $150 to $1,000, and a jail term of between one day and one year
  • 2nd Offense – A 24-month license revocation, a fine of $400 to $3,000, and a jail term of between seven days and one year
  • 3rd Offense – A 30-month license revocation, a fine of $900 to $5,000, and a jail term of between 90 days and one year

If the driver has a fourth or greater DWI, then that will be considered a felony charge. In addition to greater fines and longer prison terms, felony DWI charges all carry a four-year revocation of the driver’s license. The penalties for these charges are:

  • 4th Offense – A fine between $900 and $5,000 and a prison term between two and six years
  • 5th Offense – A fine between $900 and $5,000 and a prison term between three and ten years
  • 6th Offense – A fine of as much as $15,000 and a prison term between five and twenty years

FAQs About Arkansas DWI Laws and Penalties

Do You Have to Take a Chemical Test in Arkansas?

Getting pulled over for a DWI can be a tense situation. It’s important to remember, though, that you cannot refuse to take a chemical test in Arkansas. By driving on roads in the state, there is an implicit assumption that you consent to take the test when it is requested.

Refusal to take the test can cause problems. Firstly, it will do nothing to stop you from getting a DWI charge, and the refusal can be brought up in the attempt to prosecute you. Refusal will also carry an automatic license suspension.

What Are Defenses Against DWI Charges?

There are a variety of different ways that you may be able to defend against DWI charges. The burden of proof in a DWI is on the prosecution, who must be able to make the case that your guilt is beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, defending against the charges can consist of trying to create reasonable doubt about your guilt.

The defense that is most appropriate for your case will have to be something that your lawyer decides. In some cases, there is some kind of technical or procedural issue that could lead to the charges being dismissed altogether. In other cases, there may be cause to challenge the validity of the chemical test.

When Do You Have to Get an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device is required after the period of license revocation for any felony DWI conviction. However, in misdemeanor cases, it is up to the discretion of the judge to decide whether or not an IID will be required.

What Does a DWI Defense Lawyer Do?

A DWI lawyer is responsible for representing you throughout the legal process. One important element of this is protecting your rights against self-incrimination, a fair trial, and other constitutional rights. They will also investigate the circumstances around the charges against you, looking for angles that weaken the prosecution’s case and strengthen your position. If a plea deal is offered, they can attempt to negotiate a favorable option.

They will also try, if there is sufficient reason, to get the charges dropped. If the case does end up going to trial, they will aggressively challenge the prosecution’s case while also proactively arguing in your defense.

Let Us Help Defend You Against DWI Charges in Arkansas

It’s critical that you work with a Cabot, AR criminal lawyer you trust when facing DWI charges. The penalties that a conviction could result in are significant. Fines, jail time, and license suspensions can cause significant issues in your life. Even if you feel like your case is a lost cause, there are more ways to take these charges on than you might realize.

At Lemley Law Partners, we understand what it takes to challenge DWI charges and are ready to do that for you. If you are looking for someone to represent you in fighting DWI charges, then contact us today.

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