In Arkansas, if you are stopped in traffic by the police for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, are you required to take a breathalyzer exam? Keep reading to learn the answer, but if you are charged with DWI for any reason, you must contact a Little Rock DWI attorney at once.

It is not difficult to be charged with DWI – driving while intoxicated – in this state. According to KTHV-TV News in Little Rock, police agencies in Arkansas make more than one thousand arrests every year for driving while intoxicated.

If you “refuse to test” – that is, if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer exam when a police officer suspects that you are driving while intoxicated, what are the consequences? It is a complicated question because the Arkansas law that governs DWI testing is complicated.

What is Implied Consent?

Like most states, the law about breathalyzer testing in Arkansas is an “implied consent” law, which means that if you are driving on any street or highway in Arkansas, you have already expressed your consent to taking a breathalyzer exam if a police officer requests one.

Anyone who has been arrested on a charge arising from the operation of a boat or motor vehicle, any driver who has been involved in an accident, and any driver stopped by the police for suspicion of DWI must, by law, submit to a breathalyzer exam if a police officer requests one.

A driver in Arkansas who refuses to take a legally requested breathalyzer test may have his or her driver’s license suspended. That begins when a police officer confiscates the license “on the spot.” When that happens, the officer will give the motorist an Official Driver’s License Receipt.

Can You Fight a License Suspension for Refusal to Test?

The driver will also receive a “Notice of Suspension/ Revocation/ Disqualification of Driving Privilege Form” which provides these details:

The motorist will be allowed to continue driving for thirty days with the Official Driver’s License Receipt, provided his or her current driver’s license is valid.

The motorist has the right to request an administrative hearing with a Driver Control Hearing Officer within seven calendar days to contest the (otherwise automatic) administrative suspension of his or her driver’s license.

You have the right to be represented by an Arkansas DWI attorney at an administrative hearing with a Driver Control Hearing Officer, but you must contact that lawyer immediately if your license has been confiscated. You and your lawyer have only seven days to request that hearing.

What Are the Penalties for Refusing to Take a Breathalyzer Test?

Apart from any related driving while intoxicated prosecution, Arkansas imposes the following penalties for refusal to test. The penalties listed here may be imposed even if the offender is acquitted of the underlying driving while intoxicated charge:

  • First offense: A 180-day driver’s license suspension
  • Second offense within five years of the first: A two-year driver’s license suspension
  • Third offense within five years of the first: A three-year driver’s license suspension
  • Fourth offense within five years of the first: A four-year driver’s license suspension

Can a Refusal to Test Be Used Against You?

Drivers in Arkansas should know that their refusal to submit to a breathalyzer exam will not prevent them from being convicted of driving while intoxicated. In fact, your refusal to test can be used against you in a DWI prosecution.

Prosecutors usually insist that if a driver refuses to submit to a breathalyzer exam, it is because that driver is intoxicated and trying to hide it. Nevertheless, and even without a breath, blood, or urine test, you can be found guilty of DWI on the basis of other evidence and testimony.

In the Little Rock area or anywhere in the state, if you have been charged with driving while intoxicated and/or refusal to test, or if your driver’s license has been confiscated or suspended for refusal to test, discuss your case with a Little Rock DWI lawyer as quickly as possible.

What Are the Penalties for Driving While Intoxicated?

Whether you take or decline to take a breathalyzer exam, driving while intoxicated is a serious criminal charge in Arkansas.

Listed here are the criminal penalties for a DWI conviction in this state:

  • First DWI convictions may be penalized with up to one year in custody and a $1,000 fine. Instead of time behind bars, the typical first-time offender is ordered to perform thirty days of community service.
  • Second DWI convictions within five years of the first may be penalized with up to one year in custody and a $3,000 fine. Instead of time behind bars, the court may order the offender to perform sixty days of community service.
  • Third DWI convictions within five years of the first may be penalized with up to one year in custody and a $5,000 fine. Instead of time behind bars, the court may order the offender to perform ninety days of community service.
  • Fourth and subsequent DWI convictions are felony convictions in Arkansas. A fourth DWI conviction may be penalized with up to six years in a state prison and a $5,000 fine.
  • A fifth DUI conviction within five years of the first may be penalized with up to ten years in a state prison and a $5,000 fine.

Aggravating Circumstances May Mean Harsher Penalties

The penalties listed here may be “enhanced” – that is, harsher – if driving while intoxicated causes an accident, injuries, property damage, or death, or if a passenger under 16 years of age was in the vehicle when driving while intoxicated occurred.

Arkansas takes DWI seriously. It is the only state that will not allow a first-time DWI offender to plead to the lesser charge of reckless driving or “wet reckless.” The best way to avoid this sort of legal trouble is by heeding the same advice you’ve heard again and again. Don’t drink and drive.

Plan ahead if you intend to drink away from home, and if necessary, use a ridesharing service, call a taxi, or have a trusted friend act as a designated driver. Sleep on a friend’s sofa or get a room for the night. Do whatever it takes to avoid getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

But if you are charged with refusal to test or with driving while intoxicated, contact a Little Rock DWI attorney at once – and fight the charge.