Arkansas First Offense DWI

Arkansas First Offense DWI Laws Explained in Easy to Understand Simple Terms. This is Information You Must Know

In Arkansas, an individual is legally defined as driving while intoxicated (DWI) if their blood alcohol concentration is .08% or higher. According to Arkansas Code 5-65-104, anyone arrested for DWI must relinquish their driver’s license to the arresting officer. Additionally, the state considers minors to be driving while intoxicated if their blood alcohol level reaches .02% or more. It is also noted that the term DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is sometimes used instead of DWI when referring to minors. This differentiation is important because it acknowledges the stricter standards imposed on younger drivers to discourage any level of drinking and driving.

Key Aspects of a DWI in Arkansas

  • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits: For adults, Arkansas law considers a BAC of .08% or higher as driving while intoxicated. For minors, the threshold is much lower at .02%, reflecting zero-tolerance policies for underage drinking and driving.
  • License Surrender: Upon arrest for a DWI, the driver must surrender their driver’s license to the arresting officer. This is mandated by Arkansas Code 5-65-104 and serves as an immediate administrative penalty.
  • Legal Distinctions for Minors: Minors caught driving with a BAC of .02% or greater are also considered to be driving while intoxicated, although the term “DUI” (Driving Under the Influence) may sometimes be used in these cases to differentiate from adult DWI charges. This distinction highlights the stricter standards and penalties for underage drivers.

Table of Contents

First Offense DUI Penalties

For a first offense DWI in Arkansas, the complete range of penalties typically includes:

  • Jail Time: Offenders can be sentenced to anywhere from 24 hours to one year in jail. If there was a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle, the minimum jail sentence is seven days​ (​​ (​.
  • Fines: The fines range from $150 to $1,000​ (Lemley Law)​​ (​.
  • License Suspension: The offender’s driver’s license is suspended for six months. If the offender wants to regain driving privileges during this period, they might be eligible for a restricted license which could require the installation of an ignition interlock device​ (​​ (​.
  • Community Service: The court has the option to order community service as a substitute for or in addition to other penalties​ (​​ (​.
  • Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment: Offenders are required to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and follow through with any recommended treatment programs or educational courses​ (​.
  • Probation: Judges may place the offender on probation, mandating compliance with specific conditions like treatment and maintaining sobriety​ (​.
  • Victim Impact Panel: Offenders may need to attend a victim impact panel, which involves presentations by victims of drunk driving​ (​.

These penalties aim to both punish and rehabilitate offenders, and to deter future DUI offenses. The specific circumstances of the case can affect the severity of the penalties. It is highly advisable for anyone charged with a DWI in Arkansas to consult a qualified attorney to help navigate the legal process and potentially mitigate the penalties.

Top of page

Underage First Offense DUI

For underage drivers in Arkansas, the penalties for a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) or UDD (Underage Drinking and Driving) when the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is between 0.02% and 0.08% are designed to be educational and corrective, while still enforcing strict consequences. Here’s a breakdown of the penalties for underage DWI offenses:

  • First Offense:
  • Second Offense:
    • Fines: $200 to $1,000.
    • Community Service: At least 30 days.
    • License Suspension: One year.
    • Education Requirement: Mandatory attendance at an alcohol and driving education course.
  • Third Offense:
    • Fines: $500 to $2,000.
    • Community Service: At least 60 days.
    • License Suspension: Complete revocation until the offender reaches 21 years of age or for three years, whichever is longer.
    • Education Requirement: Mandatory attendance at an alcohol and driving education course.

These penalties highlight the state’s focus on preventing underage drinking and driving through both punitive and educational measures. It’s important for underage drivers and their guardians to understand the serious nature of these offenses and the long-term impact they can have on a young driver’s future.

Top of page

CDL First Offense DUI Penalties

For a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) holder in Arkansas, the penalties for a first offense DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) are particularly strict due to the higher safety standards expected from professional drivers. Here’s a breakdown of the consequences:

  • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limit: CDL drivers are held to a stricter BAC limit. While the limit for standard drivers is 0.08%, it’s 0.04% for those holding a CDL.
  • License Suspension: Upon a first DWI conviction, a CDL driver faces an automatic one-year suspension of their commercial driver’s license. This is true even if the driver was operating a non-commercial vehicle at the time of the offense.
  • Jail Time, Fines, and Other Penalties: Like other drivers, CDL holders face potential jail time and fines which can vary widely but generally include at least 24 hours of jail time and fines ranging from $150 to $1,000. These penalties can be more severe based on the specifics of the incident and any additional charges levied.
  • Employment Impact: Beyond the legal ramifications, a DWI conviction can severely impact a CDL driver’s career, as many employers in the transportation sector have zero-tolerance policies for alcohol-related offenses.
  • Mandatory Programs: CDL drivers may also be required to complete substance abuse evaluation and treatment programs as dictated by the court.

These heightened penalties reflect the serious responsibility CDL drivers have in maintaining safety on the roads. If you’re a CDL holder facing a DWI charge, it’s crucial to consult with a legal professional who specializes in DUI/DWI and transportation law to understand your rights and options.

Top of page

Ignition Interlock Requirements First Offense DUI

In Arkansas, ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are often required for DWI offenders, including those committing a first offense, but their use is generally at the discretion of the court. Here are the key points regarding IID requirements for first offense DWI offenders in Arkansas:

  • Court Discretion: The judge may order the installation of an IID as part of the sentencing for a first offense DWI, especially if the circumstances of the case warrant such a measure.
  • License Reinstatement: For those whose licenses are suspended following a DWI conviction, obtaining a restricted license during the suspension period may be contingent upon the installation of an IID. This allows the offender to drive under specific conditions while ensuring compliance with sobriety.
  • Mandatory for High BAC or Refusals: In cases where the offender had a particularly high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or refused to submit to chemical testing, the court is more likely to require an IID as part of the conditions for reinstating driving privileges.
  • Duration: The duration for which the IID must be installed can vary based on the judge’s orders and the specifics of the case. Typically, it could be for the entire period of license suspension or for a specified time after the license is reinstated.
  • Cost and Maintenance: Offenders are generally responsible for all costs associated with the IID, including installation, monthly rental, and maintenance fees.

The requirement for an IID, even on a first offense, underscores the seriousness with which Arkansas treats impaired driving offenses. If you are facing a DWI charge, consulting with a legal expert can help you understand how these laws may apply to your specific situation.

Top of page

Implied Consent Law

Arkansas’s “Implied Consent” law plays a crucial role in the enforcement of DWI regulations. Under this law, any person who operates a motor vehicle in the state implicitly agrees to submit to chemical testing (like breath or blood tests) to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or the presence of drugs. Here’s how it works for a first offense DWI:

  • Testing Requirement: If lawfully arrested for a DWI, the driver must submit to a chemical test. The choice of test and the timing are generally determined by the arresting officer.
  • License Consequences of Refusal: Refusing to submit to a chemical test upon request can lead to immediate administrative penalties. For a first-time refusal, the driver’s license is typically suspended for 180 days​ (​.
  • Evidence in Court: The fact that a driver refused to take a chemical test can also be used as evidence in court, potentially supporting the prosecution’s case for a DWI charge.
  • Additional Penalties: Besides license suspension, refusal to take a chemical test does not directly impose additional criminal penalties but it does affect the legal proceedings and can lead to harsher sentencing under the DWI charge if convicted.
  • Restoration of Driving Privileges: To restore driving privileges after a suspension for refusing a test, the offender typically needs to complete certain requirements, which might include a substance abuse evaluation and education program.

The Implied Consent law is intended to facilitate the enforcement of DWI laws by ensuring that officers can obtain the necessary evidence to prosecute intoxicated driving offenses effectively. If you are facing a situation involving a DWI charge in Arkansas, it might be beneficial to consult with a legal expert to fully understand the implications of the Implied Consent law on your case.

Top of page

DUI Class Requirements

In Arkansas, DUI offenders are often required to attend DWI education classes as part of the penalties imposed for driving under the influence. These classes focus on the dangers of impaired driving and aim to prevent future offenses. Here’s an overview of what these classes generally entail:

  • Substance Abuse Evaluation: Before attending classes, offenders usually undergo a substance abuse evaluation. This helps determine the level of alcohol or drug education, treatment, or both that might be necessary.
  • DWI Education Program: The actual education program typically covers topics such as the effects of alcohol and drugs on the body and mind, the impact of DUI on driving abilities, legal consequences of a DUI, and strategies to prevent future DUI incidents.
  • Program Length: The duration of the DWI education classes can vary depending on the specific requirements set by the court or the severity of the offense. Classes might range from a few sessions to more extensive programs spread over several weeks.
  • Completion Requirement: Successful completion of the DWI education program is often a mandatory part of the sentencing. Failure to complete the program as ordered can result in additional penalties or an extension of the probation period.
  • Additional Treatments: Depending on the outcomes of the initial evaluation, additional treatments such as counseling or participation in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous might be required.

These educational classes are integral to the rehabilitation process for DUI offenders, emphasizing not just punishment but also recovery and prevention of future offenses. If you are involved in a DUI case in Arkansas, it’s important to comply with all court-ordered programs, including DWI classes, to mitigate further legal consequences.

Top of page

Driver License Hearing

In Arkansas, if you’re arrested for a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), you’ll have to deal with not only the criminal court process but also a separate DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) hearing. This administrative hearing is crucial because it determines the fate of your driving privileges. Here’s an overview of what to expect in these hearings:

  • Purpose of the Hearing: The DMV hearing focuses specifically on your driving privileges and the circumstances of your arrest, not on whether you are guilty of a DWI. The primary issues usually include the legality of the DWI stop and arrest, and whether you were driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit.
  • Requesting the Hearing: You must request a DMV hearing typically within a specific period after your arrest (usually within 7 days) to challenge the suspension of your license. If you do not request a hearing within this timeframe, your license will be automatically suspended.
  • Conduct of the Hearing: The hearing is less formal than criminal court proceedings and is conducted by a DMV official rather than a judge. Evidence such as police reports, test results, and witness testimony can be presented. You can also bring an attorney to represent you.
  • Potential Outcomes: If the DMV finds that the stop and arrest were conducted legally and that you were driving with a BAC above the legal limit, your license will be suspended. The length of the suspension can vary depending on whether it’s your first offense or if you have prior DWIs.
  • Impact of Hearing on Criminal Case: The outcome of the DMV hearing is independent of the criminal DWI charges. Even if your license is suspended at the DMV hearing, you could still be found not guilty in criminal court, and vice versa.
  • Appeals: If the decision at the DMV hearing is not favorable, you typically have the right to appeal the decision. The appeal process might involve a higher level within the DMV or a court.

These DMV hearings are crucial because losing your driving privileges can impact your ability to work, attend school, and meet other personal obligations. It’s often beneficial to have legal representation at these hearings to ensure that your rights are protected and to argue effectively for the retention of your driving privileges.

Top of page

Final Thoughts

Facing a first offense DWI in Arkansas can have serious consequences that impact various aspects of your life. Beyond legal and administrative repercussions, a DWI can have long-lasting effects on your employment, especially if your job requires driving. The DWI will also be part of your driving record, potentially increasing insurance premiums.

Given the complexities and potential impacts of a DWI charge, consulting with a qualified attorney who specializes in DWI cases is advisable. An attorney can help navigate the legal system, possibly reduce penalties, or challenge the charges based on the specifics of the arrest.Each DWI case can vary based on its details, so personalized legal advice is crucial. It’s important to take swift action, including requesting a DMV hearing promptly, to protect your rights and minimize the consequences of a first DWI offense.

Top of page

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.