In Arkansas, when someone gets behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, they may face driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges. A DWI offense is typically a misdemeanor that may carry fines, jail time, community service and a license suspension. It will affect your insurance costs and possibly your professional license, especially if you drive for work.
However, sometimes Arkansas prosecutors pursue felony charges against someone accused of drinking and driving. Felony charges usually mean bigger penalties for the person accused and a more serious blemish on your criminal record.
In what circumstances would a DWI in Arkansas become a felony offense?
When a driver has numerous prior charges
When someone had three prior DWI convictions within five years, the fourth becomes a felony offense. The possible penalties include between one and six years in prison or public service, up to $5,000 in fines and a four-year suspension of their driver’s license.
Drivers could even lose their vehicles for four offenses in a three-year period. For fifth or subsequent offenses, the penalties increase to up to 10 years in prison. The increased penalties associated with repeat DWI charges could be a reason to defend yourself even against a first-time charge.
When the driver causes a fatal wreck
If a driver under the influence of alcohol causes a fatal crash, they could face a felony charge. Arkansas prosecutors could pursue either misdemeanor or felony negligent homicide. If it is a felony charge, the penalties include between three and ten years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Factors ranging from your driving record and your blood alcohol level to your actions after the crash will influence what degree of charges prosecutors seek after a fatal crash.
You can defend against DWI charges in criminal court
There are several ways that you might successfully defend against impaired driving allegations. You could provide an alternate explanation for a failed breath test based on your medical history. You might challenge the accuracy of the testing unit no. Some people can even fight back against DWI charges by showing that a police officer violated their rights by conducting an unfounded traffic stop.
Exploring all of your options for defending against DWI charges can help you avoid a criminal record and an increased risk of felony charges in the future.