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400 Ouachita Avenue, Hot Springs, Arkansas 71901

How Arkansas Law Has Gotten Tougher on DWI Repeat Offenders

If you’ve been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated in Arkansas, you’re understandably feeling stressed about the consequences. And you may have good reason. State law on DWI has become more intolerant in recent years, particularly for people with prior convictions. This makes it of critical importance to devise the strongest possible defensive strategy.

In 2021, Arkansas significantly toughened its laws on repeat DWI offenders by extending the look-back period for prior convictions. This means those offenses can come into play for a much longer time frame, potentially elevating your current charge to a more serious offense with harsher penalties.

Previously, only DWI convictions with the past five years could be considered. Now, for most misdemeanor DWI offenses, the look-back period has doubled to 10 years. This change can have a big impact. Let’s say you had a DWI nine years ago. Under the old law, that wouldn’t be considered a repeat offense. Today, it bumps your current charge up a notch, potentially leading to stricter punishments like increased jail time, higher fines and mandatory ignition interlock devices.

The law gets even tougher for those with multiple offenses. For a sixth or subsequent DWI, the look-back period extends a staggering 20 years. Imagine facing a DWI charge today, only to discover a youthful mistake from up to two decades ago now puts you in the category of a habitual offender. The potential consequences, including significant prison time, become much more severe.

Here is a summary of how the longer look-back periods can affect the penalties imposed:

  • 1st Offense — 24 hours to one year in jail and a fine of $150 to $1,000
  • 2nd Offense — Seven days to one year in jail and a fine of $400 to $3,000
  • 3rd Offense — 90 days to one year in jail and a fine of $900 to $5,000

These changes make it more critical than ever to seek proper legal representation if you’re facing a DWI charge. The new look-back periods do not guarantee a harsher sentence. There are often mitigating factors to consider. A skilled DWI defense attorney can analyze your specific situation, explore options to challenge the evidence against you, negotiate with prosecutors and potentially seek alternative sentencing options. 

At Schnipper, Britton & Stobaugh in Hot Springs, Arkansas, former prosecutor John S. Stobaugh knows how state authorities prosecute DWI cases and how to assert an aggressive defense that potentially can reduce your penalties. Call 501-762-0887 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.