What Is a Felony DUI/DWI in Arkansas?

Aggravating factors that can lead to felony DWI charges and the penalties that can follow.

Like all other states, Arkansas prohibits driving while intoxicated (DWI)—operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Most Arkansas DWIs are misdemeanors but criminal history and other aggravating factors can elevate a DWI to a felony. Here are some examples of what qualifies as a felony DWI in Arkansas and the possible penalties for a conviction.

Habitual DWI Felony

Arkansas has a five-year lookback period for DWIs. So, generally, only DWIs occurring in the prior five years are counted for sentencing purposes.

If an impaired driver has three or more prior DWIs in the last five years, he or she can be charged with felony DWI as a habitual offender. Here the possible penalties for a fourth, five, and sixth DWI.

4th Offense

5th Offense

6th Offense

Prison

1 to 6 years

2 to 10 years

5 to 25 years

Prison (if DWI with passenger under 16)

2 to 6 years

3 to 10 years

5 to 25 years

Fine

$900 to $5,000

$900 to $5,000

Up to $15,000

Minimum and maximum penalties are sometimes misleading because there are often ways (such as probation) that allow the offender to avoid jail time. But for these felony DWIs, the minimum prison sentences are generally mandatory.

After conviction, the driver’s license will also be revoked for four years and revoked drivers are precluded from obtaining a restricted driving permit. The driver must complete an approved alcohol education program prior to reinstatement. The court can also order that the driver’s vehicle be forfeited.

A felony DWI can also affect an offender’s career opportunities. In Arkansas, persons with a felony DWI conviction are often precluded from holding public transportation jobs, commercial driver’s licenses, and some other public service positions.

Felony Charges for DWIs Involving Deaths

A DWI can also be charged as a felony if it results in a fatality. An intoxicated driver who negligently causes the death of another person can be charged with negligent homicide, a class B felony. A conviction will result in five to 25 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

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