Although not required for a conviction, the key evidence in a DWI prosecution is usually a chemical test showing the amount of drugs or alcohol in the suspect’s body. Depending on the situation, police might employ a blood, breath, urine, or saliva test to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or the amount of drugs in the suspect’s system. This article gives an overview of what Arkansas’s implied consent laws say about DUI chemical testing.
Arkansas’s implied consent laws specify that any person who operates a vehicle within the state is deemed to have consented to DWI chemical testing. Consequently, any person who has been lawfully arrested on suspicion of DWI is required to submit to a breath, salvia, 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.
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.
License suspension. Drivers who refuse DWI chemical testing generally face a 180-day suspension for a first offense. In determining whether a refusal is a first or subsequent offense, prior offenses that occurred within the last five years (include any DWI and chemical-test refusal suspensions) are counted. A second offense will result in a 2-year suspension, a third offense results in a 3-year suspension, and a fourth offense will result in lifetime revocation.
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.
Evidentiary uses. 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.
Warrants. Although consent for other tests is implied, officers have the option of obtaining a warrant to draw blood. Once 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.
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.