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To Blow or NOT to Blow: DWI Risks + Watch Outs in Arkansas

DWI stopIf you are pulled over in Arkansas, and the officer suspects intoxication, then the officer will most likely administer a field sobriety test and request a breathalyzer test to determine your condition. Refusing a breathalyzer test is becoming an increasingly common strategy when pulled over for a suspected DWI. Is it a good idea?

The short answer is: It depends on the facts and circumstances of your case.

First, you should understand that refusing a breathalyzer test is within your rights, but it is not without consequences. You should understand that when you apply for a driver’s license, you have indicated your consent to those tests. It is called implied consent. Almost all states have implied consent laws and because of those laws, you may have your license suspended and be required to pay a fine for refusing to take the test. The period of time and the amount of the fine varies from state to state, but in Arkansas, it is six months.

Know your rights if you are stopped for DWI:

You have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test or a blood sample test.

You have a right to refuse a field sobriety test.

Many attorneys will advise you to refuse all of the above. I have been a practicing attorney for over 43 years. I have worked in the criminal justice system as a city prosecutor; state prosecutor; defense attorney; circuit judge; and a state Supreme Court Justice. I have worked in and been involved in the criminal justice system most of my adult life.

MY ADVICE IS:
Rule #1 – You do not consume any amount of alcoholic beverage and/or impairing drugs, and operate a motor vehicle of any kind. Very simply, you do not want to be on the side of the road arguing about how many drinks you have had.

Now with that bit of advice out of the way:

What should you do if you’re pulled over for DUI?

  • Follow all lawful commands.
  • Always be polite, courteous and respectful.
  • Remember: The law enforcement officer does not know what he or she is walking up on.
  • That said, if you have not had any alcoholic beverages and/or impairing drugs, and you have no reason to believe you cannot pass a test… If you do not want to spend a miserable evening and possibly a lot of money… then my advice is to cooperate and take the field sobriety test, portable breathalyzer and breathalyzer test.
  • On the other hand, if you have consumed alcoholic beverages and/or impairing drugs, and you DO have reason to believe you cannot pass a test, then you should respectfully decline and respectfully tell the officer you want to talk to an attorney before you say anything.
  • You will most likely go to jail. And anything you say or do at that time will provide law enforcement with evidence they will use to convict you.
  • You will be charged with refusing the test, as mentioned earlier. You will most likely also be charged with a DWI.
  • The criminal penalty for DWI is much greater than refusing the test.
  • Before you make any admissions, just respectfully say: “I would like to speak with my attorney before answering any questions. I respectfully refuse to take any tests.”

Arkansas has very strict DWI laws.

For example, Arkansas is a state that does not allow defendants a plea deal to reduce a drunk driving charge. As said earlier, determining the best strategy involves knowing how to apply Arkansas drunk driving laws to each particular case. If you find yourself in this situation, I suggest you talk to an experienced DWI attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

In summary, because of the seriousness of the charge, I do not subscribe to the advice of some attorneys to always refuse any test. It depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.

What’s the difference between DWI and DUI?

DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” While these may sound like the same offense, many states treat these as separate crimes. If you live in a state that classifies them separately, it’s important to know the difference. DUI is the lesser charge, meaning the driver is less impaired than if it’s classified as DWI. In other states, DUI is used when the driver is under the influence of drugs.

Author: Paul Danielson

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