What to Expect for a First DWI/DUI in Arkansas

The criminal and administrative penalties for a first DUI/DWI conviction in Arkansas.

A first DWI (sometimes called "DUI") is a misdemeanor in Arkansas. The penalties for a first DWI in Arkansas are serious but not as bad as you'd get on a second or third offense.

This article covers the basics of Arkansas's DWI laws and the consequences of a first DWI conviction.

Arkansas's DWI Law

In Arkansas, it is illegal to operate or have actual physical control of a vehicle or motorboat while intoxicated or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater. The term "actual physical control" doesn't require movement or operation but simply having the ability to exert control over the vehicle.

What Counts as a 1st DWI in Arkansas

If the driver has no prior DWI convictions within the last ten years, a DWI conviction is considered a first offense (the lookback period is five years for license-related penalties).

Penalties for a First DWI in Arkansas

A first DWI in Arkansas will generally result in fines, some time in jail, and possibly having to complete some sort of treatment program.

Jail Time for a 1st DWI in Arkansas

A first-offense DWI carries at least 24 hours imprisonment with a maximum sentence of one year in jail. This minimum increases to seven days in jail if the driver had a passenger who was under 16 years old. However, the judge can order community service in lieu of jail time.

Fines for a 1st DWI in Arkansas

A person who's convicted of a first DWI faces fines of $150 to $1,000. In addition to fines, drivers may be required to pay reinstatement fees, supervision fees, and treatment costs. (DWI convictions come with lots of hidden costs.)

Substance Abuse Treatment for Arkansas DWI Offenders

Before sentencing, the convicted motorist must obtain a drug and alcohol evaluation from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The judge will review the screening report and may consider the report in deciding on the sentence.

License-Related Penalties for a First Arkansas DWI

At the time of a DWI arrest, the officer will seize the driver's license and issue a temporary permit. After the expiration of the temporary permit, the driver's license will typically be suspended for six months if the driver has no prior DWI suspensions within the last five years.

During this revocation period, the licensee may be able to obtain a restricted license. However, depending on the circumstances, the restricted license might require the use of an ignition interlock device.

The convicted driver is also required to complete an alcohol education or treatment program provided by the Department of Human Services. Unless acquitted of the DWI charge in court, the driver must complete the required program to be eligible for license reinstatement.

First Underage DWI in Arkansas

Drivers who are under the age of 21 at the time of arrest can get an "underage DWI" for operating or being in actual physical control of a car or motorboat while intoxicated or having a BAC of .02% or more (but under .08%).

If convicted, the driver will be subject to a 90-day license suspension and a fine of $100 to $500. The underage motorist will also have to complete an accredited alcohol education program.

Talk to an Arkansas Attorney

While you may be hoping to have the DWI charge diverted or dismissed, Arkansas strictly prohibits the dismissal or "pleading down" a DWI charge. Due to the impact that a DWI can have on a person's life and license, it is always best to talk with a qualified DWI attorney to consider one's options.

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