The Arkansas DWI Guide

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I just got arrested for a State of Arkansas DWI charge.  What happens next?


ISSUE ONE:  The Arkansas Implied Consent (Administrative License Suspension) Proceeding:  The most pressing matter may be requesting a hearing on your license revocation.  Your Arkansas driver's license (or your right to drive in Arkansas if you're not an Arkansas licensed driver) was most likely suspended for a specified time period for failing or refusing to take a breath or blood test. 


Typically, when you're arrested for an Arkansas DWI, your Arkansas license is confiscated (if you have one) and you're given an Official Driver's License Receipt and Notice of Suspension/Revocation of Driving Privilege.  If you would like to challenge this suspension, you generally must do so within seven days of arrest (please refer to the Notice you received when you were arrested).  If you represent yourself on this issue, make sure that you do not miss the deadline or you will waive your right to challenge your suspension.  If you hire an Arkansas DWI lawyer in time, your attorney can make this request on your behalf. 


The hearing on your appeal is typically held within twenty days of your arrest.  Meanwhile, if you had a valid Arkansas license at the time of your arrest, you can continue driving for thirty days.  On the 31st day, your suspension takes effect unless your appeal is successful.

ISSUE TWO:  The Arkansas DWI Criminal Case:  Separate from the implied consent suspension is the criminal charge for DWI.  In the State of Arkansas: 

(a) It is unlawful for any person who is intoxicated to operate or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle; and

(b) It is also unlawful for any person to operate or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle if at that time the alcohol concentration in the person's breath or blood is 0.08 percent or more as measured by a breath, blood, and urine test.  [This is sometimes known as a "per se DWI."]

The term "intoxicated" means influenced or affected by the ingestion or consumption of alcohol, a controlled substance, any intoxicant, or any combination of alcohol, a controlled substance, or an intoxicant, to such a degree that the driver's reactions, motor skills, and judgment are substantially altered.  See Section 5-65-102(2). 

Important:  The implied consent proceeding and the criminal DWI case are separate from one another in Arkansas.  However, if you are acquitted of you


Will my Arkansas driver license be revoked / suspended?


RELATED TO ISSUE ONE ABOVE:  Your Arkansas driver license (or your right to drive in Arkansas if you do not have a valid Arkansas license) may be suspended for failing or for refusing a chemical test for alcohol and / or drugs.  Again, you may challenge this suspension by requesting a timely hearing after your arrest.  Be sure to READ YOUR PAPERWORK CAREFULLY. 



RELATED TO ISSUE TWO ABOVE:  If you are convicted of the DWI charge, you will also lose your license (or your right to drive in Arkansas if you don't have a valid Arkansas license) for some time depending on your DWI history.  This suspension is separate and distinct from the implied consent suspension.  Talk to your Arkansas DWI lawyer for possible suspension lengths for your situation.



Also keep in mind that your license can be suspended for a variety of reasons unrelated to a DWI arrest e.g. excessive points, etc.


What happens if I get caught driving while my license is suspended / revoked?


Driving while your license is suspended or revoked should be avoided as it is a new crime.  Under Arkansas law, any person whose privilege to operate a motor vehicle has been suspended or revoked for a DWI related offense who operates a motor vehicle during the period of the suspension or revocation shall be jailed for ten days and may be fined up to one thousand dollars.

I really need to drive.  Will I be able to get a restricted / interlock / work / probationary permit?


An ignition interlock restricted license may be available to you in some circumstances.  Speak to your Arkansas DWI lawyer about whether you qualify and how to apply for this restricted license.  These licenses do not allow unlimited driving.  Generally, you may drive only (a) to and from your employment; (b) to and from an educational institution (school) for the purpose of attending class; (c) to and from an alcohol treatment / education classes; and (d) to and from the ignition interlock service provider.

The State of Arkansas does not issue any interlock / restricted license to operate commercial motor vehicles.  Also interlock licenses are not available for DWI-drug suspensions.

What is the difference between a DWI, DUI, OWI, OVI etc.?


These terms are all acronyms that refer to the offense commonly known as "drunk driving."  Different states have different names for the crime.  Arkansas law refers to "driving while intoxicated" or DWI. 

As noted above, there is a separate DUI offense in Arkansas that applies only to drivers under 21 years of age and is typically seen when the young driver has a BAC of 0.02 to 0.07 percent.

Is a DWI in Arkansas a misdemeanor or felony charge?


In Arkansas, a DWI is usually a misdemeanor crime.  However, a fourth or greater DWI conviction in five years is a felony crime.


What type of penalties might I face if I am convicted of an Arkansas DWI charge?


Upon conviction of an Arkansas DWI offense, a defendant can receive a variety of penalties including alcohol screening / treatment / education and attendance at a victim's impact panel class.  A range of minimum penalties is set forth below: 



1st DWI Conviction
·One day to 1 year in jail OR at 7+ days community service;
·four to six month license suspension;
·$150-$1,000 fine.
2nd DWI Conviction
(within five years)
·7 days to 1 year in jail OR at least 30 days community service;
·two year license suspension;
·$400-$3,000 fine;
3rd DWI Conviction
(within five years)
·90 days to 1 year in jail OR at least 90 days community service;
·30 to 36 month license suspension;
·$900-$5,000 fine.
4th DWI Conviction
(within five years)
·One to six years in prison OR at least one year community service;
·four year to life license revocation;
·$900-$5,000 fine.
5th DWI Conviction
(within five years)
·Two to six years in prison OR at least two years community service;
·four year to life license revocation;
·$900-$5,000 fine.

Note 1:  DWI convictions beyond the first are dated from within five years of the first offense, even if in another state (e.g., if you are arrested four years after your first offense, it is a second DWI offense).

Note 2:  All penalties are enhanced when a child under the age of sixteen was in the car at time of DWI offense.

Will my defense lawyer be able to plea bargain / negotiate my Arkansas DWI charge down to another (lesser) offense?

Possibly.  Plea bargaining and charge reduction are two areas that any experienced Arkansas DWI lawyer would discuss with the prosecutor on the client's behalf. 

Will an Arkansas DWI go on "my driving record?"

Yes.  A DWI conviction will go on your Arkansas driving record.  However, for a first DWI conviction you can bring an action to expunge your record if you have successfully completed all the terms of your sentence.  The court has the discretion to expunge your record.

Just how much jail / prison time will I have to do if I am convicted of a DUI in Arkansas?

The amount of incarceration (jail or prison) received will depend on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the following:

•  your prior driving record especially your DWI history within the last five years (including any DWI / DUI's outside of Arkansas);

•  your level of intoxication / BAC;

•  whether you refused a breath / blood test;

•  whether there was an collision involved;

•  whether there was bodily injury to another person in the collision;

•  which Arkansas county or court your case is in;

•  what judge you are sentenced by;

•  whether there was a passenger especially a child under 16 years of age in your car;

•  whether the sentencing judge feels you have accepted responsibility for your actions.


I am licensed to drive in a state other than Arkansas and I was cited for a DWI in Arkansas.  Will my driver license be suspended?

Arkansas only has the authority to suspend your right to drive in the State of Arkansas.  However, Arkansas and 44 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted an agreement known as the "Driver License Compact."  Arkansas will report a DWI conviction to the home state of the driver (assuming the home state has also adopted the Compact).  Your home state will then generally take action to suspend your license.

This also works in reverse.  If you are a Arkansas licensed driver and you are convicted of a DUI / DWI charge in another state, Arkansas will suspend your license if it learns of the conviction. 

Will I have to install an Ignition Interlock Device on my car?


An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breath alcohol measurement device that is connected to a motor vehicle ignition.  In order to start the motor vehicle, a driver must blow a breath sample into the device which then measures alcohol concentration.  If the alcohol concentration exceeds the startup set point on the interlock device (typically 0.02 percent), the motor vehicle will not start or will shut down if running.


If you are convicted of an Arkansas DWI, it is likely you will have to install and maintain an IID for some time.  Speak to your defense attorney about whether this requirement applies to your situation. 

What will an Arkansas DWI do to my insurability?

If your insurance company finds out about your DWI / DUI one of two things are likely to happen.  Either your Arkansas insurer will raise your rates or you may be cancelled or non-renewed. 

I'm not a U.S. Citizen.  Will an Arkansas DWI conviction result in my deportation from the country?

Probably not. Typically, first time DWI convictions are not considered aggravated felonies or “crimes of moral turpitude” resulting in removal.  However, it is important to consult an experienced immigration lawyer about your situation just as you should consult with an experienced Arkansas criminal defense lawyer about your pending Arkansas DWI charge.

Please, keep two points in mind.  First, it is very important to answer honestly all questions about prior arrests / convictions on immigration forms.  Lying on these forms is often considered more serious than any DWI conviction. Second, non-citizens must take extra care not to drive on a suspended or revoked license.

Are there special concerns for licensed pilots who get an Arkansas DWI?


Yes.  The FAA has special reporting requirements for certain Motor Vehicle Actions including Arkansas DWI convictions and implied consent suspensions.  Learn more here.

How does the Arkansas Point System work? 

In Arkansas, points are assigned for various traffic violation convictions.  A computer searches driver records each week and identifies drivers who have fallen within a preset range for sanctions.  After accumulating 10-13 points a warning letter is issued.  After accumulating 14 points or more a notice is sent to the driver advising him or her of a proposed suspension (see table below) and advising the driver of their right to a hearing.

Points Accumulated  Possible Suspension Length
14 - 17  three months
18 - 23 six months
24 or more one year

A hearing is automatically scheduled and a Hearing's Officer may:  take no action; place the driver on probation; restrict the driver's license; or impose a suspension.  If the driver fails to attend the hearing, the driver's license is automatically suspended.  In other words, don't miss your hearing.

I had an accident with my DUI.  Do I need to file an accident report?

Under Arkansas law, the driver of every moving vehicle who is involved in any accident within the State of Arkansas that results in damage to the property of any one person in excess of $1000 or that results in an injury or death of any person regardless of fault, must file a Arkansas Motor Vehicle Accident Report (SR-1) within 30 days.

I missed my Arkansas court appearance.  What do I do now?

Failing to appear (FTA) for court is to be avoided.  When you miss a court appearance, bad things happen.  At a minimum, the Arkansas court typically issues a warrant for your arrest (commonly known as a bench warrant).  Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.  Often, your only option is to turn yourself in on the outstanding warrant.  A new court date will then be scheduled.

Can I represent myself in court on my Arkansas DWI and / or other criminal charge(s)?

Yes.  You have an absolute constitutional right to represent yourself on any criminal charge no matter how serious including an Arkansas DWI offense.  Keep in mind that DWI defense is a complicated area of the law as shown by the information in this website.  If you cannot afford to hire your own lawyer, you definitely should apply for court appointed counsel to represent you.  You have no right to court appointed counsel at the implied consent license proceeding.

Copyright 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 by David N Lesh

Websites, including this one, provide general Arkansas DWI information but do not provide legal advice or create a lawyer / client relationship.  General information cannot replace legal advice specific to your case, problem, or situation.  Consult qualified Drunk Driving - DWI lawyers / attorneys for advice about any specific problem or DWI charge that you have.  Arkansas lawyers are governed by the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct.  This website may be considered an advertisement for services under these Rules.  Information contained in this website is believed to be accurate but is not warranted or guaranteed in any way.  No attorney associated with this website is specialized or certified in any way.  This site is not a solicitation for attorney services; rather, it is purely informational. 



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Arkansas DWI attorneys provide drunk driving (DWI) and criminal defense assistance to the communities of:  Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springdale, Jonesboro, Bentonville, and North Little Rock and Benton County, Craighead County, Pulaski County, Washington County.  Arkansas lawyers may accept Visa, American Express, Discover, and MasterCard credit cards. 


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