‘Tis the season for icing sugar cookies, wrapping gifts, enjoying hot cocoa, and celebrating with friends and family. Unfortunately, it’s also the season when more people drive while intoxicated or impaired.
The consequences can be devastating: in 2017, more than 10,000 Americans were killed in collisions with drunk drivers.
This is a serious problem that requires strict state laws. Are you familiar with the drinking and driving laws in Arkansas?
Legal Limits in Arkansas
You may be wondering what constitutes “drunk driving.” That’s a good question! Arkansas law is consistent with other states: if your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.08 or greater, you will be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). DWI is synonymous with drunk driving, and many people use the terms interchangeably.
A police officer may pull someone over if they show signs of impaired driving: stopping abruptly, weaving in and out of lanes, speeding up and slowing down repeatedly, or otherwise driving dangerously.
Alcohol isn’t the only issue; you can be charged for being under the influence of marijuana or prescription drugs. Arkansas law defines “intoxicated” as being under the influence of any combination of alcohol, illegal drugs, or controlled substances “to such a degree that the driver’s reactions, motor skills, and judgment are substantially altered and the driver, therefore, constitutes a clear and substantial danger.” See the full text of this section of the Arkansas Code here.
DWI vs. DUI
DUI is another term commonly used in conversations about drunk driving. DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, and it’s different than Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). In Arkansas, the term DWI refers to an adult (age 21 or older) whose BAC is 0.08 or greater. DUI, on the other hand, refers to an underage driver (younger than 21) with a BAC between 0.02 and 0.08.
Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving
Note that the legal definition of drunk driving is based on your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), not the number of drinks you’ve consumed or how “in control” you may feel. Based on weight and gender, two people could consume the same number of drinks but have a different BAC and, therefore, a different level of impairment.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission created these charts to help men and women know when they’ve had too much to get behind the wheel: Know Your Limit BAC Chart. The figures in these charts should be taken as estimates but can be a helpful starting point. Remember that drinking before driving can be dangerous long before your BAC hits the legal limit.
Of course, simply knowing the law isn’t enough. If you want to avoid drunk or impaired driving, you can start by 1) setting strict boundaries for yourself and asking a friend to help keep you accountable, and 2) making a plan long before you pick up a bottle or glass.
Make arrangements ahead of time for a sober friend to drive you, save the number of a taxi service in your contacts, carry bus fare, or download the Uber app. Many cities offer free ride services during the New Year’s weekend – check to see if yours is included! Don’t trust yourself to make these decisions with alcohol in your system.
Victim of Drunk Driving?
If you were the victim of a drunk driver, we know you may be facing serious personal injuries and property damage. Even when alcohol- or drug-related wrecks don’t result in death, they are still taken seriously by the court system. The driver may face criminal charges, but you may want to file a separate personal injury claim to receive compensation for your suffering. The personal injury lawyers at Taylor King Law have 20 years of experience defending the victims of drunk driving.
Call 1-800-CAR-WRECK (227-9732) today or visit our Drunk Driving Accidents Page to begin your FREE consultation. At Taylor King Law we’re on your side, by your side for the people of Arkansas.