Hot Springs DWI Lawyers Defend Your License and Your Liberty
Aggressive representation to protect your due process rights
If you are arrested for driving while intoxicated in Arkansas, you face harsh penalties that include jail time and heavy fines. A DWI conviction can cost you your license and can burden you with increased insurance premiums for years to come. But despite the stiff consequences, many drivers choose to rely on the mercy of the court rather than fighting DWI charges. At Schnipper, Britton & Stobaugh in Hot Springs, we believe in forcing the authorities to prove every element of their case. We take an aggressive posture, challenging police procedures and the evidence against you. In many cases, we can get charges dismissed or reduced, or obtain more lenient sentencing.
Understanding Arkansas’ DWI law
Arkansas has two ways of charging drunk driving. The first is DWI per se, which means the driver tested positive for blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. The second possibility is when a driver has consumed less alcohol (or drugs), but is still unable to operate a motor vehicle safely. An officer draws a conclusion based on erratic driving, obvious signs of alcohol (or drug) consumption, and poor performance on a field sobriety test.
You can also be charged with DWI even if you are not driving, as long as you are in physical control of a motor vehicle. If you pull off to the side of the road and sit in the driver’s seat with the engine off and the key in the ignition, you are liable to arrest for DWI.
Arkansas has an implied consent law, which requires drivers who are arrested for DWI to submit to a chemical test of blood, breath, or urine to determine their BAC. If you refuse this test, you face an automatic administrative suspension of your license, which you must appeal within seven days. However, if your license was valid at the time of your arrest, you can continue to drive for 30 days before the suspension begins.
Viable defenses to DWI in Arkansas
Our attorneys help drivers challenge DWI charges in a variety of ways, depending on the facts of their arrest. These include:
- No reasonable suspicion for traffic stop — An officer must have a lawful reason to pull a driver over, such as erratic driving, suspicious activity, or a moving violation. Pulling you over because you don’t look like you belong in the neighborhood is not a proper reason for a stop. If the stop was illegal, then the court must rule that any evidence against you is inadmissible.
- No probable cause for an arrest — If the stop was legal, and your behavior during the stop did nothing to arouse suspicion, the officer may not have had grounds to arrest you. An officer makes a judgment call on a field sobriety test, and often that judgment is wrong.
- BAC evidence is unreliable — Instruments that measure BAC must be regularly maintained and recalibrated. If the machine used on you has not been properly maintained, the evidence may be inadmissible. There can also be issues with chain of custody that make it impossible to know if the evidence presented in court is the evidence from your test.
Police officers and prosecutors do not like to be discredited in front of a judge. If our defense exposes weaknesses in their case, they often seek alternatives to moving forward with charges.
Penalties for DWI convictions in Arkansas
Arkansas law gives judges a great deal of leeway in sentencing for DWI. Here are the ranges of possible sentences for DWI, depending on prior convictions:
- First conviction — Misdemeanor offense results in a sentence of one day to one year in jail or seven or more days of community service; a four to six month license suspension; a $150-$1,000 fine.
- Second conviction (within five years) — Misdemeanor offense results in a sentence of seven days to one year in jail or a minimum 30 days of community service; a two-year license suspension; a $400-$3,000 fine.
- Third conviction (within five years) — Misdemeanor offense results in a sentence of 90 days to one year in jail or a minimum 90 days of community service; a license suspension of 30 to 36 months; a $900-$5,000 fine.
- Fourth conviction (within five years) — Felony offense results in a sentence of one to six years in prison or at least one year of community service; a license revocation of four years to life; a $900-$5,000 fine.
- Fifth conviction (within five years) — Felony offense results in a sentence of two to six years in prison or at least two years of community service; a license revocation of four year to life; a $900-$5,000 fine.
With such harsh potential penalties and so much discretion given to the judge, you need strong defense advocacy to help ensure a favorable outcome. An experienced criminal defense lawyer in Hot Springs is only a phone call away.
Contact an aggressive criminal defense lawyer for DWI in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Former prosecutor John S. Stobaugh knows how state authorities present DWI cases, and how to defend against charges. He provides an aggressive defense that protects your rights. To schedule an appointment, call Schnipper, Britton & Stobaugh at 501-762-0887 or contact our office online.