DWI Defense Attorneys
If you were arrested or charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of David L. Powell. We might be able to take your case and defend you in court.
The consequences of an arrest for DWI can be far-reaching and redirect the course of your life. If the jury convicts you of the crime, you face a possible jail sentence and fine. Even if the judge orders probation or dismisses your case, you could experience challenges just from getting arrested. You might lose your job and have difficulty finding another place of employment. The consequences could even extend to your family and cause them emotional or financial strain.
At the Law Offices of David L. Powell, our Fort Smith criminal defense attorneys fight for every client who hires us. We have a proven track record of success in handling DWI cases. You will have a dedicated and experienced legal team in your corner from start to finish of legal proceedings. We will tailor a strategy to meet the unique aspects of your situation and defend you to the best of our ability.
For a free case evaluation to learn more about your available options following an arrest in Arkansas, call the Law Offices of David L. Powell at 479-222-6773 today.
Legal Definition of Driving While Intoxicated
According to state law, driving while intoxicated (DWI) refers to a person who:
- Operates a motor vehicle or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while intoxicated
- Is in actual physical control of or operating a motor vehicle while their blood or breath alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or higher
Actual physical control is a term that does not require the offender to operate or move the motor vehicle but to have the ability to exert control over the vehicle.
How to Handle a DWI Arrest
Many people feel instant fear following an arrest. It’s not uncommon to panic and not know how to handle the situation. However, it’s critical to stay calm and think clearly during the entire process. You should invoke your rights when necessary to avoid making a mistake that negatively affects the future of your criminal case.
During the Arrest
You have the right to remain silent when law enforcement arrests you. You don’t have to talk to the officer about the alleged offense. Although you might think explaining your actions will resolve the matter, it could make things worse. The prosecutor can use anything you say against you during the trial. If you say something incriminating, you could face a conviction.
Even though you have the right to remain silent, it doesn’t mean you should disrespect the police. You should remain polite during your encounters with law enforcement. It’s best not to scream at them or try to run away. You could receive additional charges, such as resisting arrest or assaulting a police officer.
At the Police Station
The arresting officer will take you to the station and might question you about the crime. Another of your crucial rights is the right to speak with your lawyer. Once you invoke this right, law enforcement can’t continue the interrogation.
They must stop questioning you and let you contact your attorney. If they continue asking questions after you tell them you want to call your attorney, anything you say could be inadmissible during the trial.
If you can’t afford to bail yourself out of jail, you might have to stay there until your court appearance. Avoid conversations with others about the crime. You should only talk to your lawyer about your case. If you discuss the details with your cellmate, the prosecutor could call them as a witness to testify against you in court.
If you post bail and the court determines you can return home until your first appearance before the judge, it’s crucial to keep a low profile. Don’t talk to your friends and family about the case or post information about it on your social media accounts. Your posts could be valuable evidence for the prosecution to prove you’re guilty of DWI.
Arkansas Sentencing for DWI
The penalty you face will depend on the circumstances of the offense. Typically, a first-time DWI arrest is a misdemeanor. A second or subsequent conviction within five years of a previous conviction can result in a harsher punishment, including a longer jail sentence and expensive fine.
Sentencing guidelines for DWI in Arkansas are below.
- First Offense DWI
- A fine of $150 to $1,000
- 24 hours to one year in jail
- Six-month license suspension
- Second Offense DWI
- Between seven days and one year in jail
- A fine of $400 to $3,000
- Twenty-four-month license suspension
- Third Offense DWI
- No less than 90 days but no more than one year in jail
- A fine of $900 to $5,000
- Thirty-month license suspension
- A fourth or subsequent DWI conviction within five years of the last is a felony. It can result in these penalties:
- One to six years imprisonment
- Between a $900 and $5,000 fine
- License revocation for four years
The judge can use their discretion while imposing a sentence. They might determine that incarceration isn’t necessary and order you to complete community service instead. The hours you must complete depend on whether you have only one or multiple DWI convictions.
- First offense – At least 24 hours of community service
- Second offense – A minimum of 30 days of community service
- Third offense – Community service for at least 90 days
The officer will confiscate a person’s driver’s license after arresting them for DWI and issue a temporary permit. When the permit expires, a six-month suspension will begin. Subsequent offenders face a longer suspension period. Under special circumstances, it’s possible to obtain a restricted license to drive to work or school. However, the court might require installing an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
Anyone under 21 years old and arrested for DWI can face an underage DWI charge. State law allows a DWI charge if the offender has a BAC of 0.02 percent or more but less than 0.08 percent. If convicted, the court will require successful completion of an alcohol education course. Sentencing based on the number of prior offenses are:
- First Offense
- No community service required
- Between a $100 and $500 fine
- Up to 90 days of a suspended license
- Second Offense
- A minimum of 30 days of community service
- $200 to $1,000 in fines
- License suspension for no more than one year
- Third Offense
- Community service for at least 60 days
- Between a $500 and $2,000 fine
- Suspended license for three years or until turning 21 years old, whichever is longer
Common Defenses Against DWI Charges
At the Law Offices of David L. Powell, our criminal defense attorneys in Farmington, AR, know how to defend our clients charged with DWI. The defense strategy we use will depend on the factors involved in your case. The most common defenses are below.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement cannot pull a person over without a valid reason. Even if they see someone drifting onto the shoulder or swerving within the lane, they can’t justify searching your vehicle because they think you might be intoxicated. They must have just cause.
We could file a motion with the court to have the evidence the officer found suppressed if they violated your Fourth Amendment rights. The prosecutor won’t be able to present evidence obtained during their search to the jury during your trial.
You’re likely familiar with checkpoints. A sobriety checkpoint allows officers to stop every driver and check for signs of intoxication. They can ask to see identification and take a blood or breath test if necessary.
Law enforcement must follow all rules while conducting a lawful sobriety checkpoint. An officer can only set up the checkpoint if a supervising officer gives prior approval. There must also be a neutral objective for establishing a checkpoint plan. If officers don’t meet these requirements, it’s an unlawful checkpoint. The results of your breath or blood test could be inadmissible in court if the checkpoint was unlawful.
Field Sobriety Test
Law enforcement can ask a driver they believe has an illegal amount of alcohol in their system to complete a field sobriety test. However, misinterpreting a person’s performance is common. For example, someone with balance issues might not be able to stand on one leg or walk in a straight line.
The Law Offices of David L. Powell could argue against the result of your test for various reasons. You might have shown signs of intoxication despite not drinking alcohol. Maybe you lost your balance because you were wearing high heels or have a physical disability.
A breathalyzer measures a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Law enforcement could arrest and charge you with DWI if your BAC is at or above 0.08 percent. However, breathalyzers aren’t entirely accurate.
The device could display a higher reading if the officer hasn’t calibrated it properly. It can lead to inconsistent and inaccurate results. Additionally, residual alcohol in a person’s mouth can cause a higher BAC.
The Law Offices of David L. Powell is ready to represent you in your DWI case. Our criminal defense attorneys in Fort Smith, AR, will provide the best possible defense to try to secure your freedom and future.
If you were arrested or charged with DWI, call the Law Offices of David L. Powell at 479-222-6773 for your free consultation. We have offices in Fort Smith, Ozark, and Farmington, AR, and in Sallisaw, OK, for your convenience.