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Far away down in Arkansas…

Arkansas just might be one of the most quintessentially American places in all of, well, America. It’s home to rural, small-town comforts far and wide. It’s the birthplace of Bill Clinton. It’s where you can find one of the long-term studios of Ernest Hemingway. It’s where the first Walmart opened its doors in 1962. The only thing that isn’t terribly American about Arkansas is the fact that you can’t stroll into any old minimart to pick up a case of beer – it depends on what county you’re in. The state’s relationship with alcohol has been a tumultuous one ever since the founding of this country, and to this day, 35 of its 75 counties remain dry, meaning that alcohol can only be sold in a retail setting when it’s at a private club.

Let’s say that you live in one of these counties, and you’ve acquired a little liquor in some legal manner, and you feel like driving to a friend’s house. You’re good to drive. You’re not even that drunk. Do standard DWI laws even apply to you? First of all, shame on you. Second of all, yes. As with any other state in this great nation, the laws surrounding drinking and driving are not to be trifled with. Those in Arkansas are fairly standard, essentially meaning one thing: don’t do it. You could easily face long-term jail time, hefty fines, and a nasty stain on both your criminal record and your general reputation. Don’t let it happen to you! If you need any more of a deterrent – or if you’re in need of advice, bless your heart – read on.

Ya’ DMV and ya’ courts…a double-whammy

In the event that coasting shortly after toasting doesn’t work out in your favor, you’re probably going to start communicating with two state-based entities pretty damn soon. “Woah, woah, woah,” you might be thinking, “hold the phone. How do I even know that I’m breaking the law? How much is too much?” Fortunately, the laws governing levels of intoxication are clear-cut in the state of Arkansas. You are officially breaking the law if you are driving with a blood alcohol concentration of:

  • 08% if you are 21 years of age or older.
  • 02% if you are under the age of 21.
  • 04% if you are a commercial vehicle operator (and keep in mind, penalties are way worse if you are operating said commercial vehicle at the time of your arrest.)

Anyways, the first entity to which you will be answering is the criminal court system, as this is the one which vests power in the police officer who pulls you over, and who will undoubtedly ask you to walk in a straight line and test your breath if he or she considers your behavior to be probable cause. Now, if you think you have a good reason to refuse a blood or breath test, consider yourself warned: This will more than likely not work out in your favor. Since Arkansas is one of the many states that operates under an implied consent statute, you will face a six-month license suspension should you refuse to be chemically tested. (And the arresting officer is obligated to inform you of this if you don’t know.) If this is what you decide to do, your license will be revoked and replaced with a 30-day temporary permit on the spot. If you refuse a test a second time within five years of the first instance, you’ll be facing a two-year license suspension. For the third, it’s three years.

The second entity involved is the DMV. These are the guys responsible for managing the suspension, revocation, and reinstatement of all Arkansas driver’s licenses. As soon as you are arrested under suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the DMV is notified and will more than likely suspend your license, a decision which goes into effect 30 days following your arrest. If you want to appeal this decision, you only have seven days to do so. Hiring an attorney at this point in time is a great idea, since they can even make the hearing arrangements on your behalf. In short, losing your license really fucking sucks! There’s no reason to have it happen before you even go to trial. Be smart. Hire a lawyer.

A fairly lenient lookback

When it comes to DUI or DWI charges, all states operate under what’s called a “lookback period”, which is the length of time it takes to have your record refreshed. This doesn’t mean prior charges are expunged or anything glorious like that – just that any related crimes committed after that time has passed won’t count as your second or third offense in terms of consequences associated with a guilty verdict. In the state of Arkansas, this policy is comparatively lenient: The lookback period is just five years. In other words, if you manage to get a fourth or fifth DWI conviction in Arkansas – otherwise known as a felony – you might have a serious problem and should take advantage of any and all court-mandated treatment options.

So, what should one expect in terms of DWI convictions? In general, there’s always the possibility of drug and alcohol screening and treatment programs at the judge’s discretion. It’s also important to note that punishments are usually exacerbated by the presence of a child under the age of 16 in your car at the time of the arrest. For a basic breakdown in punishments by number of convictions, refer to the list below.

  • First offense:
    • Jail time for a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of one full year. Incarceration can, however, be substituted with community service on your first offense.
    • A six-month license suspension.
    • Fines ranging from $150 to $1,000, not including extra fees associated with IID’s (ignition interlock devices) and probation.
    • The possible installation of an IID in your vehicle.
  • Second offense:
    • Jail time for a minimum of seven days and a maximum of one full year. Again, this may be substituted with community service if you’re lucky.
    • A two-year license suspension.
    • Fines ranging from $400 and $3,000.
    • The installation of an IID in your vehicle, which you must pay for and maintain for two years following the reinstatement of your license.
  • Third offense:
    • Jail time for a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of one full year – or community service, usually set at a minimum of 90 days.
    • A 30-month license suspension.
    • Fines ranging from $900 to $5,000.
    • The installation of an IID in your vehicle.
  • Fourth offense:
    • Prison time for a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years, or a year’s worth of community service in its place if you’re really, really lucky.
    • Revocation of your license, to last anywhere from four years to the rest of your damn life.
    • Fines ranging from $900 to $5,000.
  • Fifth offense:
    • Prison time for a minimum of two years and a maximum of six years, or at least two years’ worth of community service.
    • Revocation of your license, to last anywhere from four years to the rest of your life.
    • Fines ranging from $900 to $5,000.

But wait…I need my license back as soon as possible

We understand that even in cases where you really fucked up, other aspects of your life are expected to go on as normal, and your inability to drive can really throw a wrench in things. Fortunately, the court system understands this as well. As one might expect, there are several requirements which must be fulfilled in order for you to be eligible for a restricted permit  – that is, one that will allow transportation related to only the most necessary avenues of your life, i.e. substance abuse classes, school, work, and doctor’s appointments. And, depending on the number of times you’ve been convicted of a DWI, the length of time you must wait before applying for a restricted license varies. Upon your first conviction, you must wait 30 days. For your second, it’s 45 days. For your third, it’s also 45 days. No restricted permits are allowed for fourth and subsequent offenses.

In order to successfully apply for a restricted permit, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • You must have an IID installed in your vehicle, to be maintained as long as you have a restricted permit instead of a regular license.
  • You must satisfy all related court requirements and pay any associated fees.
  • If required by the judge, you must complete a substance abuse treatment program as well as a driving skills and knowledge test.
  • You must file a SR22 insurance document, which serves as proof of insurance and your ability to pay for it.
  • You must pay all required reinstatement fees, which can be done in person or online.

Never fear…BernieSez is here

No matter how embarrassing or impossible the conditions surrounding your initial arrest may be, understand that the attorneys associated with BernieSez have seen it all – and they’re here to help. Simply upload your case today for a free consultation, or post a question to our discussion boards. Legal matters are tricky, and there’s no need to worry about your ability to defend yourself when so many other things are on the line following an arrest. Upload your case to BernieSez today and start moving towards the better side of justice.

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