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Overview of the legal alcohol limits for drivers in Arkansas
Arkansas has strict penalties for drunk drivers. Find out how to avoid a drunk driving crash and what to do if you’re injured by a drunk driver.
Imagine driving home after a long day at work. You’re just a few miles from your home when suddenly, a car swerves into your lane and slams into your vehicle head-on.
You wake up in a hospital, severely injured and facing a long road to recovery.
You later learn that the driver who caused your car crash had been drinking heavily. The devastating consequences of this person’s actions have upended your life and left you with financial, physical, and emotional challenges.
This scenario is all too familiar to victims of drunk driving accidents in Arkansas and across the country. In this article, we’ll examine Arkansas’ drunk driving laws, the penalties for those who choose to drink and drive, and the rights of drunk driving victims. We’ll also discuss the steps you can take to protect yourself from the dangers of intoxicated drivers.
Legal alcohol limits for drivers in Arkansas
In Arkansas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense with potentially life-altering consequences.
The legal alcohol limit for driving in Arkansas depends on the age and type of driver:
|Drivers 21 years or older||0.08%|
|Drivers under the age of 21||0.02%|
Most people think they can have just one more drink without feeling any consequences. But how much is too much?
While it depends on many factors (such as your biological sex, your weight, how much you’ve eaten that day, etc.), here is a helpful chart to help you estimate whether you’ve had too much to drink. Cells highlighted in dark orange indicate being over the legal limit for individuals 21 and older who are not commercial drivers.
Approximate blood alcohol percentage
|Drinks||100 lbs.||120 lbs.||140 lbs.||160 lbs.||180 lbs.||200 lbs.||220 lbs.||240 lbs.|
Operating a motor vehicle with a BAC above the legal limit is considered a “per se violation,” which means no further evidence of intoxication or impairment is needed to be charged with a DWI. However, drivers in Arkansas can be charged with an impairment DWI even if their BAC falls under the legal limit.
To be charged with an impairment DWI, you must be “affected” by alcohol or drugs while operating a motor vehicle.
Evidence often used to support a decision that a person is affected by alcohol or drugs includes:
- Erratic driving
- Poor performance on a field sobriety test
- Slurred speech
- Odd behavior
- An admission of being impaired
Implied consent laws in Arkansas
Arkansas is an implied consent state. This means that when you receive your driver’s license, you automatically agree to submit to a blood, urine, or breathalyzer test if you’re suspected of driving under the influence.
If you refuse to take a test, your license will automatically be suspended for a period of 180 days to three years, depending on whether you’ve had any prior offenses. What’s more, evidence of your refusal can be used against you in a criminal trial.
Notably, DWI sobriety checkpoints are legal in Arkansas, but police must follow certain rules.
Penalties for driving while intoxicated in Arkansas
The penalties for DWI in Arkansas depend primarily on the number of prior offenses. However, it’s important to note that penalties can be enhanced based on other factors, such as the driver’s BAC level and whether or not anyone was injured in the crash.
Here’s a closer look at the penalties for driving while under the influence in Arkansas:
|Arkansas DWI penalties|
|1st offense||Up to $1,000||10 days to 1 year||180 days|
|2nd offense||Up to $2,500||1 to 5 years||1 year|
|3rd offense||Up to $5,000||1 to 10 years||At least 3 years|
|4th offense||Up to $5,000||1 to 20 years||At least 3 years|
Impact of drunk driving on an Arkansas personal injury case
If you’re injured in a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver, you can file an insurance claim just as you would in any other accident.
You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the intoxicated driver if:
- The intoxicated driver is uninsured and your uninsured motorist coverage won’t cover your damages,
- The intoxicated driver’s insurance company doesn’t offer you enough money to settle, or
- Your damages exceed the intoxicated driver’s policy limits.
Keep in mind that in order to recover damages, you’ll need to prove that the intoxicated driver caused your accident. You can’t, for example, recover damages if YOU caused an accident and the other driver involved happened to be intoxicated.
Be sure to call the police after an accident with an intoxicated driver. The police can conduct a field sobriety test and draft a report that may help support your claim down the road.
Dram shop laws in Arkansas
Dram shop laws hold establishments that sell alcohol (restaurants, bars, theaters, etc.) responsible for serving intoxicated patrons who later cause an accident.
Arkansas' dram shop law, as outlined in Arkansas Code § 16-126-103, establishes the liability of establishments that sell or serve alcoholic beverages in certain situations. Under this law, a person who is injured by an intoxicated individual may have a legal claim against the establishment if:
- The establishment sold or served alcohol to the intoxicated individual who was clearly intoxicated or under the age of 21, and
- The establishment's sale or service of alcohol was the proximate cause of the injury you sustained.
In other words, if an establishment sells or serves alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated or under the age of 21 and that person goes on to cause injury to another person, the injured party may have grounds to sue the establishment for damages under Arkansas' dram shop law.
How to spot a drunk driver
Some common signs that a driver may be intoxicated include:
- Swerving or weaving in and out of lanes
- Sudden stops or acceleration
- Driving too slowly or erratically
- Tailgating or following too closely
- Failing to use turn signals or using them inconsistently
- Driving without headlights at night
If you suspect someone of drunk driving, keep a safe distance and call 911 to report the driver. Be prepared to provide the vehicle's description, license plate number, and location.
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