Arkansas Drunk Driving Laws and Penalties

Learn about the penalties—including fines, jail, and license suspension—for a DWI/DUI conviction in Arkansas.

Arkansas law prohibits driving while intoxicated (DWI). The offense is also commonly called “driving under the influence” (DUI).

Driving. “Driving,” as it relates to a DWI, refers to the operation or actual physical control over a vehicle (including all-terrain vehicles and motorboat). While operation is self-explanatory (it refers to actual driving), “actual physical control” does not require a running engine or a vehicle in motion—the driver just needs to have the ability to exert control over the vehicle.

Intoxicated. For purposes of Arkansas’s DWI laws, “intoxicated” means the person has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater or the person’s reaction and motor skills are substantially altered as the result of ingesting alcohol, a controlled substance, or any other intoxicant.

The amount of alcohol a person must consume to be over the legal BAC limit depends on a number of factors such as gender, the person’s body type, and the type of drinks consumed. Our BAC calculator and BAC table can give you an estimate of where your BAC might be at after a certain number of drinks.

Arkansas DWI Penalties

When convicted of a DWI, the judge decides how much jail time and fines to impose but is required to stay within certain parameters. These guidelines are based upon how many prior DWI convictions a person has within the last five years—including Arkansas DWI convictions, as well as DUI and DWI convictions from other states. A first, second, or third offense DWI is a misdemeanor and usually entails jail time, fines, and license suspension.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense


24 hours to 1 year (minimum 7 days if minor under 16 years old present)

7 days to 1 year (minimum 30 days if minor under 16 years old present)

90 days to 1 year (minimum 120 days if minor under 16 years old present)


$150 to $1,000

$400 to $3,000

$900 to $5,000

Community service. If the judge finds good cause to do so, he or she can order community service instead of incarceration. However, the judge must explain the reasons for not ordering jail time and order community service within the following guidelines:

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Community Service

Minimum 24 hours (7 days if minor under 16 years old present)

Minimum 30 days (60 days if minor under 16 years old present)

Minimum 90 days (120 days if minor under 16 years old present)

Driver’s License Sanctions

The suspension periods for a DWI depend on how many prior DWI suspensions and convictions the driver has had in the last five years (this includes any DWI related suspension). Here are the suspensions for a first, second, and third offense.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Suspension Period

6 months

24 months

30 months

Restricted license. A driver can request a restricted license during the suspension period. With a restricted license, the motorist has limited driving privilege but, depending on the circumstance, may have to install an ignition interlock device (IID).

Implied Consent and Refusing a Chemical or Breath Test in Arkansas

Arkansas’s “implied consent” laws require all drivers lawfully arrested for a DWI to submit to a chemical or breath test. Motorists who refuse testing face similar revocation and IID periods as they would for a DWI conviction.

Underage DWI

Drivers who are under the age of 21 at the time of arrest can be cited for an “underage DWI” for driving while under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicant or have a BAC of .02% or more but less than .08%. Convicted drivers will be required to complete an alcohol education course and face the following penalties:

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Community Service

None required

At least 30 days

At least 60 days


$100 to $500

$200 to $1,000

$500 to $2,000

License Suspension

90 days

1 year

3 years or until 21 years old (whichever is longer)

Plea Bargaining in Arkansas DWI Cases

While you may be hoping to have the DWI charge diverted or dismissed, Arkansas strictly prohibits the dismissal or “pleading down” of a DWI. However, due to the impact a DWI can have on a person’s life and license, it is always a good idea to speak to a qualified DWI attorney about your situation.


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