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Driving while under the influence is never a good idea. Every state is cracking down on drunk drivers, and Arkansas is no exception. Drivers in Arkansas can be convicted of a DWI strictly on the basis of impaired driving, even in their blood alcohol limit is under the .08% legal limit. An officer can make an arrest strictly based on a person’s driving pattern and performance in field sobriety tests. Additionally, a driver may be convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol content of .08% or above, even if he is not driving erratically.
Basic DWI Laws for Arkansas
When an individual in the state of Arkansas is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he receives a DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction. A DWI in Arkansas is essentially the same as a DUI in any other state, and it carries severe penalties. Drivers are prohibited by law from operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) .08% or higher. Minors may be convicted if found driving with any alcohol or controlled substance in their system, and the legal BAC limit in a minor is .02%.
Arkansas drivers also give their implied consent, when accepting a driver’s license, to participate in chemical testing for the presence of alcohol when requested to do so by a police officer. A driver refusing to submit to testing will be subject to penalties, even if there is no DWI conviction.
Penalties Associated with a DWI in Arkansas
A first DWI offense in Arkansas carries several penalties. A driver loses his license for six months, and will be assigned to jail time for 24 hours up to one year, or a judge may require public service hours instead. Fines range from $150-$1,000, and some drivers may be required to use an ignition interlock device when their license is reinstated. Additionally, drivers may be required to attend a victim impact panel and a treatment or educational program for alcohol abuse.
Penalties increase substantially with each additional DWI a person receives, and on a fourth offense within five years, a driver will be charged with a felony. Jail time ranges from 1 to 6 years, fines start at $900 and go as high as $5,000. The license suspension period is four years. Drivers must also complete a treatment or education program for alcohol, perform at least one year of community service, and if the conviction comes within three years of the person’s first offense, his car may be seized.
DWI Accident Rates in Arkansas
According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, just under 30% of Arkansas’ annual traffic fatalities from 2005 through 2009 were caused by drunk drivers, which was slightly lower than the national average. However, the statistics were also adjusted to account for the different populations from one state to another. When reviewing the adjusted statistics based on accidents per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, traffic fatalities for drunk drivers were actually a bit higher than the national average.
SR-22 Requirements in Arkansas
The courts may require convicted DWI offenders to carry SR-22 insurance. SR-22 insurance is required for many high-risk drivers, including those with several speeding tickets or other points on their record. SR-22 insurance usually needs to be carried for three years for most violations, although in Arkansas a DWI conviction requires SR-22 insurance for five years. Additionally, if a driver is convicted of refusing a chemical test for alcohol, even if not convicted of a DUI, he will need to carry SR-22 insurance for five years as well. It is important not to let SR-22 insurance lapse, since the penalty period will restart from the beginning and the driver’s license will be immediately suspended until the insurance is reinstated.
Effects of a DWI on the Cost of Car Insurance
Unfortunately for any driver who has been convicted of a DWI, insurance is going to be very expensive for a while. In Arkansas, a DWI will stay on the person’s driving record for 10 years. Additionally, even though they only need to carry the minimum liability insurance required by the state, this coverage will be substantially more expensive because of the mark on the driver’s record. However, insurance companies base premiums on other factors besides just a driving record, such as person’s age, previous driving history, kind of car driven and gender, so insurance rates will vary because of those factors as well.
Upon being arrested for a DWI, a person may want to hire an experienced DUI attorney to help them. When arrested, a criminal case is created, and then another case is created with the Department of Finance and Administration Office of Motor Vehicles for Arkansas. Drivers must request a special hearing to ask if they can retain their drivers license after being convicted, and must request the hearing through the proper procedure within seven days of arrest or they will automatically lose their license. An attorney can help with this process, as well as getting penalties reduced and possibly even eliminated. This could make a substantial difference in insurance costs.
Arkansas Car Insurance Companies For High-Risk Drivers
Receiving a DWI conviction is not much fun for anyone, and the last thing a person probably wants to do is talk to a bunch of different insurance companies. However, taking the time to discuss insurance with several providers may be well worth the time investment, since premiums can vary substantially from one insurance company to another. Each insurer uses its own internal methods for calculating premiums, and some insurance companies specialize in providing coverage only for high-risk drivers, which enables them to keep their rates lower. Insurance companies such as Esurance.com, GEICO, The General Car Insurance or Progressive Insurance can provide quotes on affordable insurance that is especially geared towards high-risk drivers.