People are charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated (DUI/DWI) every day in Arkansas. However, for many first-time offenders, facing charges can seem particularly devastating. These offenders may be unsure as to how DUI/DWI charges will affect their driver’s license, as well as what the other potential penalties may include.

Typical criminal penalties for first-offense DUI/DWI

After any drunk driving arrest, there are two types of penalties that the offender will likely face: administrative penalties and criminal penalties. On the criminal side, first-time offenders typically will not face much jail time, although first offenses can result in up to one year in jail. Criminal penalties like potential jail time or fines will likely be enhanced in cases in which serious injury or property damage occurs, the motorist commits a dangerous traffic violation or when the driver is extremely intoxicated.

Administrative penalties

Administrative penalties following a DUI/DWI offense include the automatic suspension of one’s driver’s license. Following a first offense, this suspension period will likely last for six months. This automatic suspension of the driver’s license can also occur if the driver refused to consent to a breath or chemical test during the traffic stop, due to the state’s “implied consent” law. This refusal can result in an automatic 180-day license suspension.

Other penalties following a conviction can include the completion of a Drug and Alcohol Education or treatment program, the installation of an ignition interlock device and more.

Moving forward after a DUI/DWI

People have a lot to go through before their first DUI is behind them. First and foremost, people have to get the legal side of things out of the way. This involves attending an initial hearing, entering a plea and possibly standing trial.

Getting a DUI is an unpleasant setback, but it happens to people every day, and eventually, it will be in the past. Nevertheless, it is a serious situation, and people charged with DUI should consult an attorney who can help them through the process. For first-offense DUI/DWIs, hiring an attorney is the best thing people can do to minimize the potential penalties they face.