Arkansas's DWI (driving while intoxicated) laws prohibit operating or having actual physical control of a vehicle or motorboat while intoxicated or having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater. A driver can be in "actual physical control" of a vehicle without being in motion: simply having the ability to exert control over the vehicle is sufficient for a conviction.
To determine whether a DWI is a first, second, or subsequent offense, all DWI convictions—including out-of-state DWI and DUI convictions—are counted. If the driver has two prior DWI convictions within the last ten years, a new charge is considered a third offense (the lookback period is five years for license penalties). A third offense DWI is a misdemeanor. Convicted motorists are typically looking at several months in jail, a large fine, and a substantial license suspension.
This article discusses the specific penalties you'll face if convicted of a third DWI in Arkansas.
Jail time. A third-offense DWI carries at least 90 days imprisonment with a maximum sentence of one year in jail. This minimum jail sentence is increased to 120 days in jail if the driver had a passenger who was under 16 years old in the car. However, the court can—for "good cause"—order community service in lieu of jail time. If ordered, the offender must perform 90 days of community service (or 120 days if a passenger was under the age of 16 was in the vehicle).
Fines. A person who's convicted of a third-offense DWI faces $900 to $5,000 in fines. In addition to fines, the judge may require the motorist to pay a variety of fees and treatment costs. (The court has the option of ordering increased public service work in lieu of a fine if the defendant is indigent.)
Pre-sentence report. Prior to sentencing, the convicted motorist must complete a drug and alcohol evaluation at the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The judge can then consider the evaluation report in determining how to sentence the defendant.
When a person is arrested for a DWI, the officer seizes the person's license and issues a temporary driving permit. Once the temporary permit expires, the driver's license is usually suspended for 30 months if the driver has two prior DWI suspensions or convictions in the last five years.
Convicted drivers are additionally required to complete an alcohol education or treatment program at the Department of Human Services. Unless found not guilty of the DWI, the driver must complete the required program before being eligible for license reinstatement.
Motorists who are under the age of 21 at the time of arrest can be convicted of an "underage DWI" for driving while under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicant or having a BAC of .02% or greater (but less than .08%). An underage DWI conviction will subject the driver to:
However, the specific penalties might vary depending on the circumstances.
A fourth or subsequent DWI is a felony in Arkansas. Anyone convicted of a felony DWI is looking at a four-year license revocation (without the possibility of a restricted license) and the possibility of spending multiple years incarcerated.
The consequences of a DWI conviction in Arkansas are severe. If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, get in touch with a qualified DUI attorney.