In their eagerness to keep our roads safe from impaired drivers, law enforcement may overstep their boundaries when it comes to DWIs.
Defending a DWI In Little Rock
While law enforcement officer’s intentions may be noble, the misguided policing of overzealous officers can prove disastrous for those charged with drunk or impaired driving in Arkansas.
Most people think DWI charges are straightforward and easy; however, that is simply NOT the case. There are many legal hoops that law enforcement must jump through for any breath or blood test to be used against you in court, and there is always an argument if there is no such result from a chemical test.
Sometimes, it makes sense to negotiate a guilty plea to the DWI in exchange for dismissal of other charges, if there are other charges that have a more significant, negative impact that the DWI. But if all you are facing aside from the DWI is a traffic ticket, it rarely makes sense to plead guilty and miss any chance at beating the DWI charge. (You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!)
Defending a DWI requires the greatest amount of legal artistry compared to other criminal charges in Arkansas law. That is because DWIs are highly politicized. In Arkansas, a prosecutor has two options when dealing with a DWI charge:
1) get a guilty plea; or
2) go to trial.
Even if a prosecutor realizes that the DWI charge was filed erroneously, he/she may not reduce or dismiss the charge. This is the ONLY charge in Arkansas law where prosecutors lack such discretion. Even a capital murder can be reduced or dismissed if later determined to have been filed erroneously.
Regardless of whether you are a commercial driver, a soccer mom, or just a working stiff around the Natural State, you deserve representation from a knowledgeable and aggressive DWI attorney.
We’re Ready for Your DWI Case
When should I call an attorney?
Immediately. With a DWI, there are several important deadlines that happen very quickly. You have 7 days from the date of arrest to formally request a hearing with the Department of Finance & Administration to challenge your driver’s license suspension. This suspension will go into effect automatically 30 days after your arrest. You will need to be approved for a restricted license and in many circumstances, have your car outfitted with an ignition-interlock device (AKA a blow-and-go), in order to drive legally once that suspension goes into effect. All of this will likely happen BEFORE YOU EVER TO GO TO COURT on a DWI charge. Even crazier, you are facing a mandatory 10-day jail sentence if arrested for driving on a suspended license stemming from a DWI.
What sort of sentence am I facing?
For those convicted of a first DWI, the sentencing range is 1-365 days in county jail and a $100-1,000 fine, plus a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel, a drug and alcohol safety education course, and a six-month license suspension (which began 30 days after arrest). Most courts sentence first-timers to a fine and no additional jail time beyond the time they spent in custody during their arrest. However, some courts impose 1-2 days of county jail time, and there is a 7-day mandatory minimum for those convicted of DWI while a child under 16 is present in the car.
For those convicted of a second DWI within 5 years, the mandatory minimum goes up to 7 days county jail, and for a third DWI within 5 years, the mandatory minimum goes up to 90 days jail. Those charged with a fourth or greater DWI offense within 5 years or a sixth or greater within 10 years face felony charges with mandatory minimum prison time.
What is the difference between Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI)?
In Arkansas, a DUI refers to a charge involving someone less than 21 years old who is alleged to have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) above 0.02, but under 0.08. It carries less severe penalties than a DWI charge. Whether in a car or on a boat, whether alleging intoxication by alcohol or some other substance, everything else in Arkansas law is a DWI. Even those under 21 may be charged with DWI if their BAC is alleged to have been above 0.08.
Can I get probation for this type of offense?
No. Under Arkansas law, judges may NOT place anyone on probation for a DWI conviction. Just another way that DWIs are special.
Can I get my DWI acquittal sealed?
Yes, immediately after it is dismissed.
Can I get my DWI conviction sealed?
Yes, but you are not eligible to file a petition to do so until 5 years after the completion of the last part of your sentence. It will then be up to the sentencing judge to the make that decision.
I was probably guilty, and I’m just facing a fine and a few classes. Why hire an attorney at all?
1) You may not be. 2) Regardless, you may need assistance navigating the complex webs of administrative hearings and court appearances associated with a single DWI charge. In a state such as Arkansas, where being able to drive is almost necessary for anyone with a job and/or a child, you need to ensure you are able to drive legally and able to reinstate your license as quickly as possible. Also, without an attorney, you will likely be advised of the “standard” fines and fees; these are often negotiable with the assistance of an attorney.