Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Arkansas

Almost nothing instills more fear in the heart of people who have been drinking than seeing the flashing lights of law enforcement behind vehicles they are driving. When that does happen, a series of events follows. The driver will usually have to perform a number of tests, known as field sobriety tests. A Breathalyzer test might be done to give law enforcement officers a blood-alcohol concentration level to determine if the driver is above Arkansas’ legal limit of .08 percent for leisure drivers who are at least 21 years old.

Drunk Driving Conviction Penalties

If it is found that the driver is above the legal limit, the driver will face drunk driving charges. These charges carry a host of consequences. Each conviction within a five-year period increases the severity of the consequences.

In Arkansas, there are minimum jail terms associated with each conviction. A first drunk driving conviction carries a 24 hour to a one-year jail term, a second carries a seven-day to a one-year jail term, a third carries a 90 day to a one-year jail term, and a fourth is a felony that carries a one to a six-year term. In some cases, community service can be ordered in lieu of jail terms, depending on the circumstances.

On top of the jail term, fines are imposed with each conviction. A first conviction carries a $150 to $1,000 fine, a second is $400 to $3,000, a third is $900 to $5,000, and a fourth is $900 to $5,000. The fine imposed is in addition to court costs.

License suspensions of six months to four years are possible, with a six-month suspension imposed on a first conviction, a two-year suspension on a second, a 30 month on a third, and a four year on a fourth. All drunk driving convictions require a person to use an ignition interlock device. In some circumstances, the ignition interlock device can be ordered in conjunction with a restricted license instead of a fully suspended license.

Drunk Driving Defense Rights

Anyone who is charged with a DUI or DWI in Arkansas has the right to present a defense against those charges. While it is possible that a lawyer might be able to get a person a lesser conviction or work out a deal with the prosecutor, that isn’t always possible. For example, Arkansas is a state that doesn’t allow defendants to enter a plea deal that reduces a drunk driving charge, which is known to some as a “wet reckless” charge, down to a reckless driving charge.

Non-standardized field sobriety tests, such as saying the alphabet backward, aren’t permissible as evidence of drunk driving in Arkansas. Even standardized field sobriety tests might be inaccurate in some instances. Improper Breathalyzer test methods, an unlicensed breath test operator, or inaccurate results can be used in some defense strategies. Determining the best strategy for each case involves knowing how to apply Arkansas drunk driving laws to each particular case.

When considering the severity of the consequences of drunk driving in Arkansas, it is easy to realize that a strong defense is necessary. An experienced drunk driving attorney can help defendants to determine how to enter a defense. There are many possible defenses, including whether the initial traffic stop was initiated illegally or not and how it was determined that a driver was intoxicated.