Drunk driving laws vary all over the country. While federal law will come into play after the fourth offense, for the most part each state has its own individual laws, with its own individual details. So, if you are arrested in Arkansas for drunk driving, what can you expect? Do you have to take those tests? And, most importantly, what exactly are the consequences?
Like many other states, Arkansas automatically takes two steps when a DUI, or DWI, is filed there. First, a criminal case is filed and second, the DMV suspends the driver's license. Drivers can avoid losing their license if they request a hearing within seven days of the arrest.
Arkansas DUIs work like this: if the driver can be shown to have been impaired at the time of the arrest, he or she can be found guilty of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated. Courts do not require proof of a particular blood alcohol level (BAC), to prove impairment. The state police can infer impairment a number of ways, from field sobriety tests, erratic driving behaviors, physical appearance, and/or physical chemical test. The Arkansas government believes that variable amounts of various substances can impair people differently. The standard for what constitutes "under the influence" is more subjective than in some other states.
After arrest, a DWI suspect will likely be asked to undergo one of several tests to determine the level of intoxicants in his or her blood. The state may use a breathalyzer, blood sample, or urine sample in order to collect intoxication data. In Arkansas, the suspect has a right to refuse these tests. However, if a suspect refuses to take one of these tests, that refusal may be introduced at his trial. A court may assume that the defendant refused the tests because he or she was trying to conceal guilt, making it less likely that a verdict will be rendered in his or her favor. When it comes to testing, it's a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.
It is worth noting that the arresting officer has the authority to decide which test is to be administered. However, the suspect in a DWI case may decline a blood test if he is asked to take one, provided he submits to either the breath or urine test.
A conviction for a DWI in Arkansas carries heavy penalties. These penalties escalate for repeat offenders. A first time offender can expect between a day and a year of jail time, though the court may order community service instead. The fine for a first offense ranges between $150 and $1,000. The second offense carries a minimum of one week in jail or at least ninety days of community service and a fine between $900 and $5,000. Though the fine and jail sentences for the third DWI are not much greater than the second, after the fourth offense the DWI becomes a felony, punishable by one to six years in a federal prison.
While you now know what to expect from an Arkansas DUI or DWI, the oldest advice is still the best advice: don't drink and drive.