Individuals who are charged with breaking Arkansas DWI laws are often scared and worried about their future. They want to try and avoid jail time while also minimizing their financial liability. A person with little familiarity with the justice system may not know what exactly police officers or jail officials will do. Information is key to dealing with these charges. Anybody accused of a DWI needs to know their rights and the basics of the process before they make a cogent decision about how to continue.
What Is a DWI under Arkansas Law?
DWI is a charge of driving while impaired. The Arkansas DWI laws the same as in many other states. Arkansas’s legal limit for being impaired is a .08 reading on a blood alcohol content monitor or breathalyzer. Individuals can also be charged with DWI for driving under the influence of drugs. Multiple illegal and prescription drugs can impair a driver considerably enough to make them a danger on the roads that needs to be pulled over and charged.
Along with blood tests, that level of impairment can also be determined by a field sobriety test given by an arresting officer. A field sobriety test can detect the impairing effects of alcohol as well as the physiological effects of many other drugs. The DWI charge results either from the .08 breathalyzer test or the failing of the field sobriety test.
What Happens If I get Pulled Over?
Once an individual is pulled over under suspicion of DWI, the officer will ask the individual a few questions and determine if they could be charged with driving under the influence. The officer will then perform a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test. The results of these tests will determine the next step that the officer takes. If the individual fails the test and shows probable cause for drunk or drugged driving, the individual will be arrested and taken into police custody. Arrests for driving under the influence of drugs may also result in a urine or blood test at the police station to detect the presence of drugs.
Their car will be impounded if they are driving by themselves. Another sober passenger will be allowed to drive if they are in the car and have a driver’s license. If the individual being charged passes the tests to the satisfaction of the officer, he or she will be allowed to go home without incident.
Can I Refuse the Tests?
You are able to refuse the tests that are administered as part of Arkansas DWI laws.
What Happens If I Refuse Them?
The fact that you refuse these tests does not mean that you are able to avoid legal jeopardy. It simply means that you are refusing to submit to a particular test of bodily fluids or physical/mental acuity. Consequently, people who refuse a field sobriety or breathalyzer test are subject to immediate arrest and a DWI charge. When a person is tried after refusing a test, the burden of proof is on them to prove that they were not too drunk or drugged to drive. The case is much harder to prove in such an instance. Legal professionals advise against refusing a field sobriety test.
A refusal creates such certainty in the Arkansas DWI laws that the individual will have a hard time either winning the case or reducing any resulting penalties. There are simply too many ways that a breathalyzer test can be improperly handled to refuse one. Any problem with the transportation of evidence and the interpretation of that evidence can constitute a degree of reasonable doubt that might lead a person to win a case or a prosecutor to settle. Just a simple breathalyzer test can give an individual a chance of beating a case.
What Are the Penalties I Should Expect?
The penalties that come along with breaking Arkansas DWI laws vary depending on the criminal history of an individual. It is difficult to guess exactly how a judge or jury will react to a DWI case. Many circumstances surrounding the case and the people trying it can help to determine the eventual outcome. Most people can expect a combination of license suspension and fines for their first offense. This is especially true if they have any sort of extenuating circumstances in their case that may attract the sympathy of a judge.
What Happens If I Have a Child Passenger?
A child passenger greatly increases the possible risk associated with a DWI incident. It shows a reckless disregard for the life of the child. As a result, any individual who drives drunk with a child passenger may eventually receive the most severe penalties possible. These individuals will not receive any leniency when they are sentenced.
DWI First Offense
Penalties for a first DWI offense are often varied. They depend on a number of factors surrounding a person and their criminal history. However, an individual who is charged with a first offense may face jail time between 24 hours and a year. A clean criminal record will mean that they serve much closer to a day in jail or possibly no jail time at all. A lack of jail time does not mean that the individual gets off on the charges. They may face fines of between $150 and $1,000. Their license may be suspended for up to six months and they may have to use an ignition lock device.
If the individual tries to subvert this device in any way, they can face additional criminal penalties. On top of all of these official penalties, there is also the negative stain of having a criminal conviction on a person’s record. Such a conviction may prevent them from getting jobs or housing opportunities in the future. For instance, drugged driving may result in associated charges for drug possession.
DWI Second Offense
The second offense is considerably more important and serious than a first offense. With most second offenses, there is no leeway. Penalties for breaking Arkansas DWI laws are often enacted and not suspended like they may be in the case of a first offense. The possibility of jail time increases. Individuals can face between a week and a year in jail. Fines are increased to between $400 and $3,000. A person convicted of a DWI for the second time may have their license suspended for two years.
DWI Third Offense
The third offense is similar to the second. In this case, the minimum imposed jail sentence is often 90 days. The person may receive a fine up to $5,000, plus a license suspension for 30 months. Penalties only increase with every subsequent conviction for DWI. At a certain point, many judges will permanently revoke a license for an individual with a certain number of DWI convictions. A large number of convictions means that a person cannot be trusted to continue driving safely.
The breaking of Arkansas DWI laws is a serious matter. No individual should look at the case as a simple one or one that can be easily ignored. Defendants need to know their rights and acquire adequate legal representation in their cases. No matter their legal strategy or the outcome of the case, people charged with this crime need to know what might happen to them. They need to know all of the facts and liabilities before going into the trial process.