Arkansas Drugged Driving Laws

Learn about the penalties for drugged or high driving in Arkansas.

Like all states, Arkansas prohibits driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (called "driving while intoxicated" (DWI) in Arkansas). But there's sometimes confusion as to how the state's DWI laws apply to drugs, especially the legal and medical use of marijuana and other prescription medications. This article explains how the law defines drugged driving and how legal drug use can lead to DWI charges.

Level of Drug Impairment That Can Lead to a DUI/OUI

Arkansas prohibits driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated. For purposes of the DWI laws, "intoxicated" means that the driver's reactions, motor skills, and judgment are substantially altered due to alcohol or drug use.

Proving intoxication. Arkansas doesn't have a testing threshold for the consumption of controlled substances (such as an ng/ml limit for consumed THC) like some other states. So, in order to get a DUI conviction for drugged driving, the prosecutor must prove the driver's abilities were substantially altered. During the investigation, the officer will typically note indicators of intoxication such as the driver's appearance, balance, speech, and eye movements. The prosecutor might then use the officer's testimony along with chemical test results (like blood test results) and expert testimony to prove intoxication.

Intoxicating substances. The substantial impairment required to prove intoxication can be caused by the ingestion of alcohol, controlled substances, or other intoxicants. The list includes substances like chemical inhalants and illegal drugs like cocaine but also many prescription drugs such as medical marijuana and benzodiazepines. The fact that the driver had a valid prescription for a medication isn't a legally valid excuse for intoxicated driving.

Arkansas DWI Penalties

The penalties for drugged driving are the same as those for drunk driving and are based on the number of prior DWI offenses within the last 5 years. The offender must also complete a substance abuse evaluation, which the court can consider in setting the penalties and deciding whether drug education classes, treatment, or other programs are appropriate for the offender.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

24 hours to 1 year

7 days to 1 year

90 days to 1 year

Fines

$150 to $1,000

$400 to $3,000

$900 to $5,000

License Suspension

6 months

24 months

30 months

Restricted license. If the driver's license suspension results in hardship, the driver can apply for a restricted license. This type of license can be used to go to and from places like work and school but might require the use of an ignition interlock device.

Reinstatement. After the suspension period, the driver must provide a treatment complete certificate prior to license reinstatement.

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