Arkansas law prohibits all motorists from operating or being in actual physical control of a vehicle or motorboat while intoxicated or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. To be in "actual physical control" of a vehicle doesn't require that the car actually be in motion—the driver having the ability to exert control over the vehicle is enough for a conviction. Arkansas's statutes use the term "driving while intoxicated" (DWI), but many people still refer to the offense as "driving under the influence" or "DUI."
Arkansas looks at a person's criminal history for the last ten years to determine if a DWI is a first, second, or subsequent conviction (the lookback period is five years for license penalties). If the driver has one prior DWI conviction within the last five years, a new charge qualifies as a second offense. DWI offenses in Arkansas, as well as other states, count as prior convictions. A second offense DWI is a misdemeanor. Motorists convicted of a second offense typically face several days in jail, a fine, and license suspension.
This article discusses the specific penalties you'll face if convicted of a second DWI in Arkansas.
Jail time. A second-offense DWI carries at least seven days imprisonment with a maximum sentence of one year. The minimum jail time increases to 30 days if the driver had a passenger under 16 years old at the time of the offense. However, for "good cause," the court can order community service in lieu of jail time. If granted, the convicted motorist must perform 30 days of community service (60 days if there was a passenger under 16 years old in the car).
Fines. A person who's convicted of a second-offense DWI faces fines of $400 to $3,000. In addition to fines, drivers may be required to pay various fees and treatment costs.
Pre-sentence report. Before sentencing, the convicted must complete a drug and alcohol evaluation with the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The judge reviews the screening report and may consider the report in determining the sentence.
At the time of the arrest, the officer seizes the driver's license and issues a temporary permit. After the expiration of the temporary permit, the driver's license is ordinarily suspended for 24 months if the driver has one prior DWI suspension or conviction within the past five years.
Convicted motorists are also required to complete an alcohol education or treatment program provided by the Department of Human Services. Unless acquitted for the DWI, the driver must complete the required program to be eligible for license reinstatement.
Underage motorists (those who are under the age of 21) 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 more (but under .08%). An underage DWI carries a one-year license suspension, fines of $200 to $1,000, and 30 days of public service work. The motorists will also need to complete an accredited alcohol education program.
While you may be hoping to have the DWI charge diverted or dismissed, Arkansas strictly prohibits the dismissal or "pleading down" of a DWI charge. The court is also barred from deferring the sentence via probation but can order probationary supervision in addition to other required penalties. Because of the severe consequences of a DWI in Arkansas, it is always best to talk to a qualified DWI attorney about your options.