DWI in Arkansas

What is a DWI in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, it is against the law for motorists to operate a vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08% or greater. This offense is referred to as "driving while Intoxicated" (DWI), an alternative to "DUI" (driving under the influence), which is often used in other US states. Arkansas DWI laws are operational on highways, neighborhood roads, private lots, and off-road-rails, whether or not a license is required.

Arkansas courts are tasked with enforcing state laws and determining the penalties of road traffic offenders. To help recurring offenders with behavioral challenges, the state operates a DWI Courts program, a specialized, post-adjudicated court program dedicated to facilitating a change of behavior among alcohol or drug-dependent offenders arrested for driving while intoxicated. Like other Arkansas criminal records, Arkansas DWI records are available to interested and eligible members of the public.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Arkansas?

While most states use both terms interchangeably, there's a difference between a DWI and a DUI charge in Arkansas. DUI is an acronym for "Driving Under the Influence," while DWI means "Driving While Intoxicated".

In Arkansas, the term DWI is more often used to refer to an adult who has a BAC of 0.08 or more, while a DUI refers to an underage driver (younger than 21) with a BAC of between 0.02 and 0.08

Arkansas DWI Laws

Arkansas drunk driving laws are outlined in Section § 5-65-103 of the state's statutes.

The following are a summary of the state's DWI laws:

  • It is unlawful to operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated.
  • It is unlawful to be in actual physical control of a motorboat on the waters of Arkansas or a motor vehicle when inebriated or with a BAC that is eight-hundredths (0.08) or more, according to the provisions of § 5-65-204.

To enforce the aforementioned laws, Arkansas operates administrative and judicial procedures. Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration and the courts ensure that DWI and other traffic-related offenses are penalized.

Like many states, Arkansas operates an "implied consent" law that allows law enforcement officials to conduct a chemical analysis of motorist's blood, breath, or urine to detect alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances.

After an arrest, the officer in charge will take the offender's Arkansas license and, in exchange, give an official driver's license receipt and notice of license suspension or revocation. The notice will state that the motorist has seven days to request an administrative hearing with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. The Office of the Revenue Division will organize the hearing. The presiding officer may schedule the hearing or any part of it by telephone, including conducting the hearing by telephone conference call.

If an individual is convicted of a DWI, the judge decides how much jail time and fines to impose on the offender. The penalties will depend on how many prior DWI convictions a motorist has had within the last five years, including Arkansas DWI convictions and convictions from other states. In Arkansas, first time, second, and third offenses are termed 'misdemeanors'.

DWI Penalties in Arkansas

The penalties for DWIs in Arkansas vary depending on the offense's severity.

Immediate Actions: The arresting officer will seize the driver's license and issue a temporary permit for 30 days following an arrest. After the temporary license expires, the driver's license may be suspended for six months (that is, if the driver has no prior DWI suspensions in the preceding five years).

During this revocation period, the motorist may obtain a restricted license. However, restricted licenses are typically only used along with an ignition interlock device.

  • Pre-sentence report:
    Before sentencing, the offender will be required to obtain an evaluation from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Subsequently, the judge will review the screening report and decide on the sentence.
  • Fines:
    First-time DWI offenders are liable to receive fines of $150 to $1,000. Aside from the fine, the drivers may be required to pay other fees, such as reinstatement fees, supervision fees, and treatment costs.
  • Jail time:
    A first-time DWI offender will likely face 24 hours imprisonment and a maximum sentence of one year in jail. If the offender had a passenger who was 16 years old or younger, this sentence would likely be increased.
  • Community service:
    The judge may opt to order community service instead of jail time. However, the judge must explain the reasons for not ordering jail time and order community service within the states' guidelines.

What Happens When You Get a DWI for the First Time in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, a first DWI offense arises when defaulting motorists are charged with DWI for the first time in their recorded history or for the first time in 5 years. Subchapter 3 of AR CODE 2019 § 5-65- details the penalties associated with first-time DWI offenses:

Prison time:
The amount of time in prison for a first offense charge ranges between 1 day up to 1-year; this may be extended if there was a passenger under 16 in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

The court may also assign community service instead of jail time for a first-time offense.

Fines:
The fines for a first-time offense range between $150 – $1,000. The actual amount of the penalty depends on the offender's history and the nature of the offense.

Alcohol Education:
A DWI offender may be required to attend a state-approved alcohol education and treatment program before the DMV reinstates their suspended license. Offenders may also be required to pay a $150 reinstatement fee to the DMV before issuing a new license.

In addition, the motorist's license may be revoked for six months if the driver declines and doesn't submit to a chemical test. In such a situation, The DMV will not grant a restricted license.

Ignition interlock:
If allowed to drive during a suspension period, the offender must install an ignition interlock to obtain a restricted license. If the driver does not install an ignition interlock, they will not be granted a restricted license and will not drive during the suspension.

License Suspension:
With a BAC of .18%, the offender's driver's license may be suspended for at least 120 days. However, where the BAC is .15% or above, and the offender refuses to submit to a chemical, they will face a license suspension of 180 days and no option of a restricted license.

What is the Penalty for a Second DWI in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, a second DWI charge connotes that the offender has more than one DWI conviction within five years. Second DWI charges are deemed misdemeanors, and offenders face the following penalties:

Prison time:
Jail time for second DWI offenses usually range between 7 days and one year - however, this may vary depending on the nature and severity of the offense.

Fines:
The fines for a second DWI charge are often between $400 – $3,000.

Alcohol Education:
A DWI offender must attend a state-approved alcohol education and treatment program. It is required for all offenders to do so before the DMV reinstates the suspended license. Aside from attending the program, the offender will pay a $150 reinstatement fee to the DMV before issuing a new license.

Ignition interlock:
If the driver desires to drive during the suspension period, an ignition interlock device must be installed in the vehicle(s) in order for the DMV to grant the driver a restricted license.

License Suspension:
The drivers' license will be suspended for two years with the possibility of receiving a restricted license after one year of suspension as long as BAC reading was below .15%. If the BAC reading was between .16% and .18% the license would be suspended for 2-years with no chance of a restricted license. If the BAC reading was above .20% the license would be suspended for 30-months with no chance of a restricted license.

What Happens After a Third DWI in Arkansas?

Third-time DWI offenders charged in Arkansas usually have two prior DWI convictions within five years of a first charge. A third DWI charge usually results in:

Prison time:
The amount of time in prison for a third DWI charge will be between 90-days and 1-year in jail. This may be extended to 365 days, and the court may opt to assign the offender 90 days of community service instead of jail time.

Fines:
The fines for a third offense often range between $900 – $5,000.

Alcohol Education:
The driver will be required to attend a state-approved alcohol education and treatment program.

Ignition interlock:
If the offender desires to drive during the suspension period, they will have an ignition interlock device installed in the vehicle(s) for the DMV to grant them a restricted license. If there's no ignition interlock installed, the driver will not be granted a restricted license and will not drive during the suspension period. The interlock requirement will continue for up to 1 year after the suspension period ends.

License Suspension:
The license will be suspended for 30-months with the possibility of receiving a restricted license after 1-year of the suspension period as long as the BAC reading is below .15%.

What Happens After a Fourth DWI in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, a fourth DWI offense often connotes that the offender had three prior DWI convictions within five years of a first conviction. A fourth DWI charge is considered a felony. It usually carries the following penalties:

Prison time:
Four-time DWI offenders in Arkansas face between 1 and 6 years in state prison. However, this may be extended depending on the offense and the offender's previous convictions. The court may also issue 1-year of community service instead of prison time and confiscate the driver's vehicle depending on the offender's prior offenses.

Fines:
Repeat offenders may face up to $5,000 in fines. However, the actual amount will vary depending on the offender's history and the nature of the crime.

Alcohol Education:
The offender may be required to attend a state-approved alcohol education and treatment program.

License Suspension:
Offender's licenses may be suspended for up to 4-years without a restricted license.

What Happens After a Fifth DWI in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, a fifth DWI offense within a 5-year period is deemed a felony. Offenders are likely to face the following:

  • A 2-year to 10-year prison term
  • fines of $900 to $5,000
  • license revocation of up to 4 years
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture

How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, a DWI offender remains under a probationary period for at least five years after their first conviction. If the offender does not commit another DWI within five years of the first, the probationary period ends. If not, subsequent charges are considered severe, often attracting more outstanding fines and imprisonment.

Essentially, A DWI will remain on an offenders' record for at least five years after committing the offense. At the expiration of the five years, the records no longer count in new hearings - if there are no subsequent charges in those five years.

DWI Expungement in Arkansas

In Arkansas, DWI records can be expunged. According to Ark. Code Ann. 16-90-1401, et seq, interested and eligible persons may petition the state's courts to have their misdemeanor or felony traffic offenses removed from public access. However, offenders are usually required to wait until five (5) years from completing their sentence for their DWI and at least sixty (60) days after the completion of their sentence to be eligible to petition for the expungement. The judge may not deny the petition for expungement unless there is "clear and convincing evidence" that the expungement should not be granted.

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Arkansas?

After a first DUI in Arkansas, jail time is very likely, but it will depend on the offender's conviction history and various other factors.

The minimum sentence for a First DWI offense is a mandatory 24 hours in the county jail.

However, in some courts, the standard sentence on every first DWI offense is more than one day in jail. If this is the case, the offender will return to the county jail to complete their sentence. The judge may sentence a DWI offender 1 - 365 days in county jail.

What is the Average Cost of DWI in Arkansas?

A DWI charge in Arkansas may cost the offender between $7,000 to $10,000, along with the immeasurable cost of a possible jail sentence.

It is common for the offending vehicle to be towed upon an arrest, and around $150 goes for vehicle recovery.

Offenders are also likely to spend a small fortune on attorney fees, depending on their legal defense expertise.

Court fines usually range from $150 to $1000 for the first offender and $300 for additional court costs. Other necessary fees include payment for installing an Ignition Interlock Device, which costs around $200, plus a monthly fee of $80 for the next six months making $480.

In addition, the court may require the convicted motorist to attend a DUI program, which costs an average of $269. After the suspension of a motorist's driver's license, it will cost about $150 to get the license reinstated. Medical expenses may also come up if the offender or a different party was injured following the DWI

How Much is Bail for a DWI in Arkansas?

The Bail set for DUI offenders in Arkansas often varies depending on the nature and severity of the offense. The amount may also be impacted by the offender's conviction history and their likelihood to flee in light of their financial capabilities and criminal tendencies. Essentially, DWI bail amounts in Arkansas will vary from case to case.

How to Get My License Back After a DWI in Arkansas?

Interested and eligible members of the public may have their Arkansas licenses reinstated by following the procedure outlined by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration:

  • Offenders must attend a Victim Impact Panel class and submit a completion certificate to the Driver Control.
  • Offenders may be required to pay a $150 reinstatement fee in person at a State Revenue Office or online at mydmv.arkansas.gov
  • Individuals with a "Revoked" license status will be required to pass all phases of the Arkansas Driver's License Exam.

How Does a DWI Affect Your Life in Arkansas?

When convicted of a DWI in Arkansas, the offender faces the prospect of jail time, especially after having one prior conviction. DWI offenders are often fined and will sometimes lose their driver's license for some time, depending on the nature of the offense and previous convictions.

Can You Get Fired for a DWI in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, DWI offenders are not likely to get fired unless their work is directly related to driving. Even though Arkansas operates a no fair employment law that generally restricts how employers consider a conviction record, relief mechanisms such as pardon and sealing are routinely available for all DWI offenders.

When convicted of a DWI, offenders may be disqualified from holding special driving licenses or obtaining professional licensure. However, a DWI does not automatically disqualify an offender from a job; most employers operate by unique employing policies.

How Do I Find DWI Checkpoints in Arkansas?

DWI checkpoints are legal and constitutional in Arkansas. To find a DWI checkpoint in Arkansas, interested persons may use search engines to locate DWI checkpoints in their areas.

When traveling, interested persons may search "DWI checkpoint" or "sobriety checkpoint" using a search engine and select news results to see the checkpoints along the road to their destination.

Which is Worse, DUI vs. DWI?

In Arkansas, DUI and DWI are two separate concepts; however, there are no apparent disparities between both. While DWI is often used to refer to an adult with a BAC of over 0.08, a DUI usually involves an underage driver with a BAC between 0.02 and 0.08%.