Arkansas’s DWI Implied Consent Law: Penalties for Refusing Alcohol Testing

Arkansas law requires all drivers lawfully arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) to submit to blood alcohol testing.

Although not required for a conviction, the key evidence in a DWI prosecution is usually chemical test results showing the amount of drugs or alcohol in the suspect's body. In order to make it easier for police to obtain this type of evidence, Arkansas has an implied consent law that generally requires drivers to test if asked to do so by an arresting officer.

This article gives an overview of what Arkansas's implied consent laws say about DUI chemical testing and the penalties a driver might face for refusing to take a test.

Arkansas's Implied Consent Law

Arkansas's implied consent laws specify that any person who operates a vehicle within the state is deemed to have consented to DWI (driving while intoxicated) chemical testing.

Consequently, any person who has been lawfully arrested on suspicion of DWI is required to submit to a breath, saliva, or urinary test. However, police must obtain a warrant to require a person to take a blood test. (Drivers who refuse to submit to a blood test but consent to breath, saliva, or urine testing, will not be punished for the blood-test refusal.)

This "implied consent" also applies to any person involved in a vehicle accident, even if rendered unconscious.

Consequences of Refusing a Breathalzyer or Other DWI Alcohol Test in Arkansas

Motorists who refuse to take a lawfully requested breath, saliva, or urine test generally can't be forced to test but will get their license immediately seized and face the following consequences.

Implied Consent Violations Lead to License Suspension in Arkansas

Drivers who refuse DWI chemical testing generally face a:

  • 180-day suspension for a first offense
  • two-year suspension for a second offense
  • three-year suspension for a third offense, and
  • lifetime revocation for a fourth offense.

In determining whether a refusal is a first or subsequent offense, prior offenses that occurred within the last five years (including any DWI and chemical-test refusal suspensions) are counted.

Getting a Restricted License Following an Implied Consent Suspension in Arkansas

Generally, motorists who get their license suspended for a DWI are eligible for a restricted license during at least part of the suspension period.

However, the rules for test-refusal suspensions are less lenient. Drivers with a first refusal can request a restricted ignition interlock device (IID) license but not drivers who have a second or subsequent refusal.

These license consequences are separate from any criminal consequences resulting from a DWI conviction and can be imposed even if the DUI charge is ultimately dismissed.

Arkansas Prosecutors Can Use Evidence of a Breathalyzer or Other Test Refusal in Court

The fact that a driver refused to submit to testing can actually be used against the driver at trial. While refusal doesn't exactly prove intoxication, prosecutors often argue a refusal is indicative that the person was trying to hide intoxication. So, even without a chemical test, a driver can still be found guilty of DWI.

Arkansas Police Can Apply for a Warrant to Test a Driver for Alcohol and Drugs

Although consent for other tests is implied, officers have the option of obtaining a warrant to draw blood. Once the police have a warrant, the driver no longer has a right to refuse testing—police can even do the blood draw by force if necessary.

Talk to an Arkansas DWI Attorney

If your license has been seized or revoked for refusing a chemical test in Arkansas, it's a good idea to talk to a DWI lawyer. License revocations must be appealed promptly to dispute and a qualified DWI attorney can tell you how the law applies to your case and help you decide on the best course of action.

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