Arkansas police officers, prosecutors, and judges take driving under the influence seriously. Often, a judge will want to punish you in the hopes you will not do it again. They want to teach you a lesson. But a fair punishment does not always mean lengthy jail time.
Each court in each city handles DWI a little bit different: some have higher fines, some require more jail time: it is important to work with an attorney who has experience with these different courts, their prosecutors, and their judges, who can let you know what to expect and can work to get the best possible outcome for you.
With the help of an experienced DWI/DUI lawyer, you can show the judge you regret what you did and will not put yourself and others in danger again.
To talk with an Arkansas DUI defense lawyer, reach out to The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP at (479) 316-3760 or through our online form. We will carefully review your case and talk with you about the best strategy for minimizing, or potentially avoiding, jail time.
DWI/DUI Penalties in Arkansas
When the police charge you with a DWI/DUI in Arkansas, you need to know what might happen. Even a first DUI – a misdemeanor – can carry up to a one-year jail sentence.
Under AR Code §5-65-111, a judge may sentence you between 24 hours and one year in jail, or between seven days and one year if you had a passenger younger than 16-years-old in the vehicle at the time for a first DUI.
In Washington and Benton Counties, you are likely to do some amount of jail time. However, the statute gives the judge options. It says the court can order public service instead of incarceration.
That is still true if you have a previous DWI/DUI or two. In some cases, it may be possible to get community services instead of incarceration for a second or third conviction within the past five years.
Instead of jail time, a judge can order you to perform a certain number of days or hours of public service work. The amount of time is up to the judge for a first-time DUI.
For a second offense, you face at least 30 days of public service or at least 60 days if you had a passenger under 16-years-old in the car. For a third DUI, the judge may order you to at least 90 or 120 days of public service instead of imprisonment.
What public service you perform often depends on what is available in your community. Usually, you will work for a government agency or non-profit. You do not get paid for this work because it is part of criminal punishment.
How To Minimize or Potentially Avoid Jail Time for a DWI/DUI
The real question is, how can you convince a judge to give you community service instead of significant jail time. One way is to reach a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Your lawyer could work with the prosecutor to agree on an appropriate penalty if you were to plead guilty. If they recommend public service instead of jail, the judge may agree.
Another option is to plead guilty and ask the judge for a lenient sentence.
It would help if you showed that jail time is unnecessary to stop you from drinking and driving again. That begins with acknowledging your behavior and showing remorse. It can help to agree to alcohol and driving education programs and counseling. Your lawyer can talk with you about ways to prove your willingness to change your behavior.
Another possibility is agreeing to an ignition interlock device, even when you qualify for a waiver. An IID is inconvenient and costly, but it also holds you accountable, and may give a judge additional assurance you have learned your lesson.
Your attorney may argue that your future is better served by avoiding jail time, which would keep you out of school or away from work. Going to jail for weeks or months might be overly punitive if you fall behind in your college courses, which you have already paid for. Jail could be too harsh if you would be unable to provide for your family, or no one else could care for your children.
Call The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP for DUI Defense Today
Avoiding or minimizing jail time in a DWI/DUI case is about convincing the judge that you will not violate the law again, and incarceration would be overly harsh. This is not an easy task and not something you should attempt on your own. Instead, please talk with us at (479) 316-3760, or use our online form.