Arkansas DWI Laws & Penalties

Arkansas Drunk Driving Laws Explained in Easy to Understand Simple Terms. This is Information You Must Know

Arkansas DWI Laws and Consequences: An In-Depth Guide

Arkansas DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) laws are designed to punish and deter driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Arkansas takes DWI offenses seriously, and the laws are designed to penalize offenders severely to deter dangerous driving behaviors. It’s important for drivers in Arkansas to understand these laws and the potential consequences of driving under the influence.

Key Points of Arkansas’s DWI Laws:

  • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits: Like most states, Arkansas has set the standard BAC limit at 0.08% for drivers 21 years and older operating regular passenger vehicles. For commercial drivers, the limit is lower, at 0.04%. Drivers under the age of 21 are subject to a zero-tolerance policy, where any detectable amount of alcohol in their system can result in a DWI charge.
  • Implied Consent Law: By driving on Arkansas roads, drivers automatically give consent to chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine) to determine BAC or presence of drugs. Refusal to submit to testing when requested by a law enforcement officer can lead to automatic license suspension and other penalties.
  • Penalties: The consequences of a DWI in Arkansas depend on the driver’s BAC level and the number of prior offenses. Penalties can include fines, jail time, community service, DWI education programs, and the installation of an ignition interlock device on the offender’s vehicle. For a first offense, penalties might include a fine of up to $1,000, jail time from 24 hours to one year, and license suspension for six months. Penalties increase with subsequent offenses, and having a BAC of 0.15% or higher can result in enhanced penalties.
  • License Suspension and Revocation: Arkansas law provides for the administrative suspension of a driver’s license if they fail or refuse a BAC test. This is separate from any criminal charges for DWI and can lead to the immediate suspension of driving privileges.
  • Ignition Interlock Requirement: Depending on the offense, Arkansas may require an ignition interlock device to be installed in the vehicles of those convicted of DWI. This device prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath.
  • Underage DWI: For drivers under 21, Arkansas enforces stricter BAC limits under its zero-tolerance policy. Penalties for underage DWI can include license suspension, fines, and mandatory alcohol education or treatment programs.
  • Aggravated DWI: Certain circumstances, such as causing an accident that results in injury or death while DWI, can lead to aggravated DWI charges with more severe penalties.

Table of Contents

There is a lot of information to cover when it comes to a DWI offense in Arkansas, so we have provided you with a quick reference table of contents so you can jump to the section you need more information on, or you can read through the entire page.

Penalties for a First Offense DWI in Arkansas

For a first offense DWI in Arkansas, the penalties are designed to punish and deter driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the penalties one might face:

1. Criminal Penalties:
  • Jail Time: The law mandates a jail sentence ranging from 24 hours to 1 year for a first offense DWI. However, for cases involving aggravating circumstances, such as having a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle, the minimum jail time increases to 7 days.
  • Fines: Individuals convicted of a first offense DWI are subject to fines ranging from $150 to $1,000. This does not include additional court costs or fees that may also be imposed.
  • Community Service: Instead of jail time, the court may order community service. The specifics of this service, including the duration and type of service, are at the discretion of the court.
2. Driver’s License Suspension:
  • The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration is responsible for imposing a driver’s license suspension for six months for a first DWI offense. This suspension is administrative and separate from any court-imposed penalties.
3. Ignition Interlock Device (IID):
  • Arkansas law may require the installation of an ignition interlock device on the offender’s vehicle as a condition for reinstatement of driving privileges. This requirement is determined based on the specifics of the offense and the discretion of the court.
4. Alcohol Education or Treatment Program:
  • Offenders may be required to complete an alcohol education program or undergo an alcohol treatment program. Participation in such programs is at the offender’s expense and is often a condition for reinstating driving privileges or as part of probationary terms.
5. Probation:
  • First-time offenders may be placed on probation, subject to the court’s conditions. Probation conditions might include regular check-ins with a probation officer, maintaining employment, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and not committing more crimes.
6. Insurance Ramifications:
  • Following a DWI conviction, the offender’s car insurance rates may increase significantly. Additionally, some insurance companies may cancel the policy, or the offender may be required to obtain SR-22 insurance (a form of high-risk insurance filed with the state proving that the minimum liability coverage is in place).

These penalties reflect the state’s zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence and aim to reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses. It’s important for those facing DWI charges in Arkansas to consult with a legal professional to understand fully the charges against them, the possible defenses, and the potential impact on their future.

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Penalties for a Second Offense DWI in Arkansas

In Arkansas, for a second DWI offense within the past 10 years, the penalties increase significantly compared to a first offense, underscoring the state’s commitment to discouraging drunk driving and ensuring public safety. Here’s a detailed overview of the penalties for a second DWI offense:

1. Criminal Charges:
  • The offense is considered a misdemeanor, which carries with it a criminal record.
2. Jail Time:
  • The law requires a minimum jail sentence of seven days, but the term can extend up to one year. If the DWI offense involved a passenger under the age of 16, the minimum jail sentence increases to 30 days.
3. Fines:
  • The fines for a second DWI offense range from $400 to $3,000. These fines are exclusive of any court costs or other fees that may be imposed.
4. License Suspension:
  • A second DWI offense results in a 24-month (2 years) driver’s license suspension. This suspension period is a direct administrative action taken by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, separate from any criminal court penalties.
5. Probation:
  • Judges often place DWI offenders on probation as part of their sentence, which may include specific conditions such as alcohol treatment programs, community service, or other requirements.
6. Ignition Interlock Device (IID):
  • The court may require the installation of an ignition interlock device on the offender’s vehicle as a condition for reinstating driving privileges. This device requires the driver to pass a breathalyzer test before the vehicle can start.
7. Alcohol Education or Treatment Program:
  • Offenders are typically required to complete an alcohol education program or undergo treatment. These programs are designed to address and mitigate the risk of repeat offenses.
8. Insurance Ramifications:
  • A second DWI conviction will likely lead to higher car insurance rates. Offenders may also be required to file an SR-22 form, a certificate of financial responsibility, to reinstate their driving privileges, indicating high-risk auto insurance.

These penalties reflect the severity with which Arkansas treats repeat DWI offenses, emphasizing rehabilitation through mandatory education and treatment programs, alongside punitive measures like jail time, fines, and license suspension​ (​.

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Penalties for a Third Offense DWI in Arkansas

For a third DWI offense in Arkansas within the past 10 years, the penalties become even more severe, emphasizing the state’s commitment to deterring and punishing driving under the influence. Here’s a detailed overview of the penalties:

1. Criminal Charges:
  • A third DWI offense is still considered a misdemeanor, but it carries significant legal and financial consequences.
2. Jail Time:
  • Offenders are subject to a jail sentence ranging from 90 days to one year. If the offense involved a passenger under the age of 16, the minimum jail sentence increases to 120 days, highlighting the increased penalties for endangering minors.
3. Fines:
  • The fines for a third DWI offense range significantly from $900 to $5,000, not including potential court costs or other related fees.
4. License Suspension:
  • A third offense results in a substantial 30-month driver’s license suspension. This suspension is a direct action by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, separate from any criminal court penalties.
5. Ignition Interlock Device (IID):
  • The court may require the installation of an IID on the offender’s vehicle as a condition for reinstating driving privileges. This device requires the driver to pass a breathalyzer test before the vehicle can start, serving as a physical deterrent against future DWI offenses.
6. Alcohol Education or Treatment Program:
  • Offenders are typically mandated to complete an alcohol education program or undergo treatment. This requirement is aimed at addressing the underlying issues contributing to alcohol abuse and preventing future offenses.
7. Probation:
  • Offenders may be placed on probation with specific conditions that could include regular check-ins with a probation officer, maintaining employment, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and not committing more crimes.
8. Insurance Ramifications:
  • Following a third DWI conviction, offenders can expect a significant increase in car insurance rates or even policy cancellation. The requirement to file an SR-22 form, proving the possession of high-risk insurance, is also a common repercussion.

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Penalties for an Underage DWI in Arkansas

In Arkansas, the penalties for underage DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) are distinct and specifically tailored to drivers under the age of 21. If an underage driver is caught with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or more but less than 0.08%, they can be cited for underage DWI. The state imposes different levels of penalties based on the offense number:

  • First Offense: The individual faces fines ranging from $100 to $500, alongside a 90-day license suspension. An alcohol and driving education course is also a mandatory requirement​ (​​ (​.
  • Second Offense: Penalties include fines from $200 to $1,000, at least 30 days of community service, a one-year license suspension, and the requirement to complete an alcohol and driving education course​ (​.
  • Third Offense: The consequences become more severe with fines ranging from $500 to $2,000, at least 60 days of community service, a complete license revocation for three years or until the individual turns 21 (whichever is longer), in addition to completing an alcohol and driving education course​ (​.

Furthermore, if an underage driver refuses to test for alcohol, similar suspension periods apply for DUI/BUI (Driving/Boating Under the Influence) offenses: a 90-day suspension for a first offense, one year for a second offense, and a three-year revocation or until age 21 for a third offense​ (AR DFA)​.

For drivers who find themselves facing these penalties, it’s important to know that completing a state-sanctioned Drug and Alcohol Education or treatment program, attending a Victim Impact Panel class, and paying a reinstatement fee are part of the requirements for license reinstatement. For certain offenses, individuals might also be eligible for a Restricted Driving Permit during the suspension period​ (AR DFA)​.

This framework reflects Arkansas’s commitment to reducing incidents of underage drinking and driving, emphasizing both punitive and rehabilitative measures. If you’re dealing with such a situation, consulting with a DWI lawyer in Arkansas can provide guidance specific to your case.

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Arkansas CDL DWI Penalties

In Arkansas, the penalties for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders convicted of DWI offenses are stringent and aimed at maintaining high safety standards on the roads. The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for CDL holders operating commercial vehicles is lower than for regular drivers, set at 0.04% compared to the standard 0.08%. Here are the key penalties and regulations:

  • For the First Major Offense: There’s a one-year disqualification from holding a CDL. If the offense involved transporting hazardous materials, the disqualification period extends to three years. After the disqualification period ends, the licensee is required to re-test for their CDL​ (AR DFA)​.
  • For the Second Major Offense: CDL holders face permanent disqualification. Additionally, if the offense occurs in a non-commercial vehicle but the individual holds a CDL, similar statutory requirements and disqualification measures apply, and the individual must downgrade their license status to meet specific DWI/BWI Alcohol offense requirements​ (AR DFA)​.
  • Specific Violations: It’s unlawful and punishable for a person to operate or be in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle if their BAC is 0.04% or more. Violations also include leaving the scene of an accident involving a commercial vehicle, using a commercial vehicle in the commission of a felony, and refusing to submit to a chemical test to determine BAC​ (Justia Law)​.
  • Penalties: Conviction for driving a commercial motor vehicle while intoxicated, with a BAC of 0.04% or more, or for other specified offenses, is considered a Class B misdemeanor. This results in disqualification from driving a commercial motor vehicle as specified in the law​ (Justia Law)​.
  • Repercussions of Refusal: Refusing to submit to a chemical test upon request while driving a commercial vehicle will lead to disqualification from driving a commercial motor vehicle​ (Justia Law)​.

Arkansas DWI laws prohibit plea bargaining in DWI cases, meaning charges cannot be reduced through pre-trial negotiations. A first-time DWI conviction may lead to a jail sentence ranging from 24 hours to one year, or at least 24 hours of community service, with fines between $150 and $1,000. Subsequent offenses within five years result in increased penalties, including longer jail times, higher fines, and more extended periods of community service for those with repeated violations​ (Findlaw)​.

These penalties reflect Arkansas’s commitment to road safety, particularly concerning commercial vehicle operation, emphasizing the serious repercussions for DWI offenses among CDL holders.

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Arkansas Aggravated DWI Circumstances

In Arkansas, aggravated DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) refers to circumstances that increase the severity of a standard DWI charge. These circumstances can significantly affect the penalties faced by an offender. The following conditions are considered aggravating factors in Arkansas:

  • Driving with Minors: Operating a vehicle while intoxicated with minors present in the vehicle.
  • Subsequent Convictions: Having multiple DWI convictions, especially subsequent convictions following the first.
  • Causing Serious Injury or Death: A first DWI that results in severe physical injury or the death of another person.

For DWI offenses, the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit in Arkansas is 0.08% for drivers 21 years and older. However, a BAC of 0.15% or higher is considered an “Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit,” indicating a more severe offense with potentially harsher penalties​ (Findlaw)​​ (Arkansas Court Records)​.

Penalties for DWI in Arkansas can range from fines and jail time to license suspension and mandatory alcohol education, assessment, and treatment. The presence of aggravated circumstances can lead to increased penalties, including longer jail sentences, higher fines, and extended periods of license suspension​ (Findlaw)​​ (Arkansas Court Records)​.

It’s important to note that DUI (Driving Under Influence) is used contextually to refer to juvenile drivers under the influence, while DWI is used for adult drivers. Regardless, both DUI and DWI offenses are taken seriously, with strict penalties to discourage impaired driving and ensure road safety​ (Arkansas Court Records)​.

For more detailed information about DWI laws and penalties in Arkansas, you can visit FindLaw’s overview on Arkansas DWI Laws and ArkansasCourtRecords for a comprehensive guide.

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Additional Consequences

In Arkansas, getting a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) comes with several penalties and long-term consequences beyond the immediate legal ramifications. Here are some additional outcomes to consider:

  • Impact on Driving Record and Points: A DWI conviction leads to 14 demerit points on your driving record. These points can influence insurance rates and eligibility for certain driving privileges​ (​.
  • Record Duration: For adults, a DWI stays on your record for 5 years after the completion of your sentence. For drivers under 21, the charge is removed right after the punishment ends. The only way to remove a DWI from your record outside of this timeframe is by going to court and being found not guilty​ (​.
  • License Suspensions and Restrictions: First-time offenders face a 6-month suspension, with subsequent offenses leading to longer suspensions. There’s also the possibility of obtaining a restricted license, which limits where and when you can drive, such as only to and from work or essential errands. Violating these restrictions can result in further penalties​ (​​ (​.
  • Implied Consent Law: Arkansas adheres to the implied consent law, meaning if you’re lawfully arrested for a DWI, you’re required to submit to a chemical test. Refusal to do so can lead to the temporary suspension or permanent revocation of your driving privileges​ (​.
  • Legal Representation: While not every DWI case may require an attorney, having legal representation can be beneficial, especially in complex cases. An attorney can challenge test results, argue for lesser penalties, and navigate the legal system more effectively​ (​.
  • Community Service and Education Programs: Depending on the offense and the court’s decision, you might be required to complete community service or attend an alcohol education program. These are designed both as punitive measures and to prevent future offenses​ (​.

Each of these consequences reflects the seriousness with which Arkansas treats DWI offenses. The legal, financial, and personal impacts are significant and can affect various aspects of your life, from your ability to drive to your financial situation and even your employment opportunities. It’s clear that the state aims to deter impaired driving through these strict penalties and long-term consequences.

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DWI Education Classes

In Arkansas, individuals convicted of DWI/DUI, Public Intoxication, and Minor in Possession of Alcohol are required to complete a Drug and Alcohol Safety Education Program (DASEP). Arisa Health, along with affiliate agencies like Counseling Associates and Ozark Guidance Center, is contracted by the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Aging, Adult & Behavioral Health Services to provide these educational services.

The DASEP is designed to serve various counties in Arkansas. If you were sentenced in a county within the Arisa DASEP catchment area, you would need to complete your program through them or another designated provider if sentenced outside their area. The program includes screenings and classes aimed at addressing and educating on the risks and legal consequences of substance use related to driving.

For detailed information on the DASEP, including FAQ, class registration, and how to obtain replacement certificates, you can visit Arisa Health’s dedicated page for the program​ (Arisa Health)​. Additionally, guidelines and further information about the program can be found through the Department of Human Services​ (Arkansas Department of Human Services)​.

This program is part of Arkansas’s effort to reduce the incidence of drug and alcohol-related offenses on the road by educating offenders on the dangers and legal implications of their actions. It’s important for those convicted to complete these programs not only to comply with legal requirements but to gain valuable insights that could prevent future offenses. For more specific information or if you have questions about the DASEP, you can directly contact the program providers or refer to the provided resources.

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Ignition Interlock Requirements

In Arkansas, after a DWI conviction, an offender might be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle. An IID is a breath alcohol analyzer connected to the vehicle’s ignition system; it prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver’s breath alcohol content exceeds a preset limit. The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration manages the issuance of Ignition Interlock Restricted Driver Licenses for those who’ve violated specific alcohol-related laws.

Here’s a brief overview of the ignition interlock requirements in Arkansas:

  • Mandatory Interlock Time: Depending on the DUI offense count, the required time for having an IID installed ranges from 6 months for the first offense to a lifetime requirement for the fourth offense and beyond.
  • Interlock Restricted Driver’s License: This license allows you to drive non-commercial vehicles equipped with an IID during your suspension time for an alcohol-related offense. It’s not available for DUI Drugs related offenses or for second or subsequent refusal to test.
  • Cost: The offender is responsible for all costs associated with the IID, including installation, monthly lease, and maintenance. Costs vary by manufacturer and installer.
  • Violations: Tampering with, circumventing, or bypassing the device, operating a vehicle without the IID, or violating the terms of the ignition interlock limited license could result in the revocation of the interlock restricted license.

For commercial drivers, being convicted of a DWI can result in the disqualification of commercial driving privileges, and they must downgrade to a non-commercial license to obtain an interlock restricted license.

Arkansas uses the IID as part of its measures to reduce drunk driving by ensuring that offenders can drive safely without further endangering themselves or others. It’s essential for those required to install an IID to follow all guidelines and regulations to avoid additional penalties or extended suspension times.

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Implied Consent Law

Arkansas’s implied consent law mandates that anyone who operates a vehicle within the state is presumed to have consented to chemical testing (such as breath, saliva, or urine tests) if lawfully arrested on suspicion of DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). This law is designed to facilitate the collection of evidence in DWI cases. However, while blood tests require either a warrant or the express consent of the driver, refusal to undergo these tests results in automatic penalties, primarily affecting the driver’s license. For example, refusing to take a lawfully requested test for the first time leads to a 180-day license suspension, with subsequent refusals resulting in longer suspensions or even a lifetime revocation for the fourth offense. Notably, even if someone refuses testing, this act can be used against them in court, potentially indicating an attempt to hide intoxication. Drivers with a first-time refusal may request a restricted license equipped with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), but this is not available for drivers with a second or subsequent refusal​ (​​ (Findlaw)​​ (​.

It’s important to understand that the consequences of refusal are administrative and separate from any criminal penalties that might arise from a DWI conviction itself. Thus, individuals facing such situations are often advised to seek legal counsel to navigate these complexities effectively.

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Driver License Hearings

In Arkansas, if you’re facing a suspension of your driving privileges due to a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) charge, you have the right to an administrative hearing. This hearing is conducted by the Office of Driver Services or its authorized agent. It takes place in the county where the arrest occurred or, by agreement, in another county. The hearing can be scheduled and conducted over the telephone if necessary.

The main issues addressed during the hearing include whether the officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was operating a vehicle while intoxicated, whether the person refused a chemical test, and if the arrest was lawful. If the suspension is based on a chemical test result indicating intoxication, the hearing will also cover whether the person was properly advised of the consequences of the test results, whether the test was administered within the proper criteria, and whether the test procedures were correctly followed.

For first-time refusals to take a chemical test, drivers might be eligible for a restricted license with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), but this option is not available for second or subsequent refusals. The hearings also touch upon vehicle registration suspensions for those with a second or subsequent alcohol or drug offense within the past five years.

If you’re appealing a license suspension, it’s crucial to request an administrative hearing promptly. This request should clearly state your intention to contest the suspension. Even if it seems like the evidence against you is strong, the hearing offers a chance to examine some of the evidence or possibly delay the suspension. Representation by an attorney can be beneficial, and in many cases, your attorney can attend the hearing on your behalf without you needing to be present.

The outcome of these hearings can vary, including continuing with no license, having driving privileges restored, or receiving a “Restricted Arkansas License” depending on your charges and criminal history. It’s essential to understand that driving after the suspension period without proper authorization can lead to severe penalties, including mandatory jail time.

For detailed guidance and to ensure all your rights are protected during this process, it’s advisable to consult with a legal professional experienced in Arkansas DWI laws.

For more information, you can refer to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration and insights from King Law Group, PLLC on navigating the administrative hearing process. Additionally, the Office of Driver Services provides resources and contact information for further assistance.

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DWI Lawyers

Hiring a DWI lawyer in Arkansas, like Moffitt & Phillips, is crucial as they provide aggressive representation, ensuring all possible defenses are explored. Their expertise covers complex issues such as field sobriety testing, breathalyzer accuracy, and legal implications of a DWI charge. They emphasize the importance of a rigorous defense strategy and are prepared to take cases to trial to protect your rights. For more detailed insights, visit their website at Moffitt & Phillips.

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Additional Arkansas DWI Resources
  • Arkansas DWI First Offense – Detailed first offense information, including punishments after a first offense DWI in Arkansas.
  • Arkansas DWI Classes – Get signed up to complete your required DWI class online today.
  • Arkansas SR22 Insurance – Learn everything you need to know about Arkansas SR22 filing requirements with the DMV and find out how you can save hundreds of dollars each year on your Arkansas SR22 insurance.
  • Arkansas DWI Lawyers – Contact one of our Arkansas DWI lawyers today to discuss your pending DUI case.
  • Arkansas Bail Bond Agents – Contact an Arkansas bail bond agent to get out of jail now.
  • Arkansas Non-owner Insurance – If you need an SR-22 filing, but don’t own a vehicle, you need to get a non-owner policy.