What is the maximum sentence for a first DUI conviction in the state of Arkansas?
Drunk driving in Arkansas is considered serious business. Also called driving with intoxication (DWI), Arkansas DUIs are considered serious and dangerous traffic violations.
Drivers that break the laws are liable to a range of penalties including certain demerit points added to their driving license, large fines, imprisonment and even suspension of their drivers’ license.
The reason for the strict approach of the Arkansas laws to drunk driving is because of the damage that can occur if it remains unchecked. According to the Center for Disease Control, 119,110 people lost their lives from drunk driving between 2003 and 2012.
In 2014, there were 6.3 deaths per 100,000 people between the ages of 21 and 34 in Arkansas, compared to the United States average (across all age groups) of 3.1 deaths per 100,000 people. This makes Arkansas the 13th most dangerous state for DUI-related car accidents.
Because of this, there are strict penalties for breaking the Arkansas DUI laws. The punishment that would be imposed on persons found guilty of a DUI vary however. They depend on the frequency of conviction especially compared to the time that has passed since committing the first offence.
Penalties for a first DUI conviction in Arkansas
There’s a range of penalties that can be imposed on a person convicted for a DUI for the first time in Arkansas. They include the following:
Under Arkansas law, a first DUI conviction is punishable with jail time. Upon conviction for the first time, an offender will be liable to at least 24 hours’ jail term. The maximum sentence available is 1 year in jail.
If the offender was driving with a passenger who was under 16 years old, the punishment is even more strict. The minimum jail term increases to 7 days but the maximum remains the same.
The judge has a discretion to impose a sentence of community service instead of imprisonment. However, the judge must explain their reasons for doing so. If imposed, the driver will be required to perform at least 7 days’ community service.
A first conviction may also attract fines of an amount between $150 and $1,000. These fines must also be paid alongside applicable court costs. The driver may also be required to pay reinstatement fees, supervision fees and treatment costs.
If a driver under the age of 21 is convicted for a DUI the first time, they will not ordinarily be subject to jail terms. Although, they will be liable to pay fines ranging from $100 to $500.
Drivers’ license sanctions
Along with a jail term or community service, persons found guilty of a DUI will also lose their drivers’ license for specified periods.
For a first offence, the driver’s license will be suspended for a period between 4 to 6 months. At the time of arrest, the arresting officer will issue the driver a temporary permit. After the expiration of the temporary permit, the suspension of license kicks into effect.
If the person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was greater than .08% but less than .15% at the time of arrest, their license will be suspended for at least 120 days. If the BAC at the time of arrest was .15 or greater, the license suspension will be for 180 days instead.
Under Arkansas laws, all drivers are presumed to have provided “implied consent” to a request to take a chemical or breath test when suspected of a DUI. This means that if you refuse to submit to a chemical or breath test when lawfully arrested on suspicion of a DUI you will be breaking the law.
Even without being found guilty of a DUI, your drivers’ license may be revoked for a period as long as would be imposed if you were found guilty of the offence. If convicted, the driver’s license may be suspended for up to 180 days (6 months).
For persons that hold a commercial drivers’ license, a first conviction for a DUI will result in a suspension of their license for a period of 1 year. It would not matter that the person was not driving a commercial vehicle at the time. If the materials being transported were hazardous materials, the driver could lose their license for up to 3 years.
For drivers under 21, a first conviction for a DUI will result in a suspension of their drivers’ license for up to 90 days.
Any driver that wishes to continue driving during the period that their license is suspended may apply for a restricted license. However, they will be required to drive with an ignition interlock device (IID) during the period.
Once the IID is installed in a vehicle, the vehicle will refuse operation until a breath sample is provided and the BAC found to be regular. If the driver’s BAC is above the legal limit, the vehicle will also refuse to start.
The court has the discretion to order that a person whose suspension period is over should drive with an IID for a period up to one year after expiration of the suspension period.
Alcohol education program
Drivers may also be required to attend an alcohol education class when facing a DUI charge for the first time. They may have to complete the Arkansas Drug and Alcohol Safety Education Program in order to prevent accumulating demerit points on their license.
Talk to a qualified Arkansas DUI attorney today
As a first time offender, there is every possibility that the courts will not be as strict with you as with other offenders. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may not need to serve the maximum punishments prescribed under the DUI laws.
However, you have every right to represent yourself, you may need the services of competent legal counsel in order to increase your chances of a lighter sentence.
Since qualified Arkansas DUI attorneys know all about the DUI laws and practice in the courts, they know exactly what facts need to be brought before the notice of the court for you to have the chance of a lighter sentence. This will depend on the circumstances of your case though.
If you want to know more about the possible punishments for a first time DUI offender in Arkansas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll be delighted to help.