Yes, you can. It is your constitutional right to represent yourself on any criminal charge, including an Arkansas DWI/DUI offense. However, DWI defense law is complicated. If you cannot afford to hire your own lawyer, consider applying for court-appointed counsel to represent you. If you do decide to represent yourself on your Arkansas DWI charge, keep in mind these four tips.
Meet the Deadlines
When you’re arrested for an Arkansas DWI, your Arkansas license is confiscated, and you’re given a Notice of Suspension/Revocation of Driving Privilege. If you would like to challenge this suspension, you should do so within seven days of arrest. If you miss the deadline, you waive your right to challenge your suspension. When you hire representation, your lawyer can make this request on your behalf.
Consider Your Options Before Pleading Guilty to a DWI charge
If you decide you can handle your case by simply pleading guilty, you still need to learn about the DUI penalties and fines in Arkansas. Even if you think you should plead guilty, it’s possible that an attorney might offer advice or counsel that could affect your sentence. For example, if your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) was between .08 and .10, a conviction is not as certain. A DUI lawyer may be able to reach a better plea bargain for you.
Stronger Penalties for Second, Third, and Fourth DWIs
Even if you represented yourself on your first DWI, you will need the assistance of a DWI attorney for additional DWI/DUI charges within five years of your first offense. Subsequent DWI offenses have far more serious fines and penalties.
In addition to completing an alcohol education program, the administrative and criminal penalties for a DWI conviction in Arkansas include:
- First offense: Up to $1,000 in fines, 1 year in prison, and the court may order 30 days of community service in lieu of a prison sentence. Your driver’s license may be suspended for six months.
- Second offense (within 5 years after first offense): Up to $3,000 in fines, 1 year in prison and up to 60 days of community service. Your driver’s license may be suspended for 24 months.
- Third offense (within 5 years after first offense): Up to $5,000 in fines, 1 year in prison and up to 90 days of community service. Your driver’s license may be suspended for 30 months.
- Fourth offense (within 5 years after first offense): a felony punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and 6 years in prison. In lieu of a prison sentence, the court may order 1 year of community service. Your driver’s license may be suspended for 4 years.
- Fifth offense (within 5 years after first offense): a felony punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and 10 years in prison. In lieu of a prison sentence, the court may order 2 years of community service.
If the DWI resulted in property damage, an accident or death, then the penalties could be even greater.
Consider Increased Insurance Costs
After a DUI conviction, expect your insurance premium to rise drastically. You could also lose your coverage and proof of auto insurance. Proof of auto insurance is mandatory in Arkansas (at least $25,000 for bodily injury; $50 for total bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident), so you could have trouble getting to work every day. A DWI lawyer could help reduce charges or negotiate a plea deal that doesn’t result in your losing insurance.
Finally, if you’re concerned about the costs associated with a DUI attorney, some DUI attorneys, such as Dearmore Law Firm, PLLC, will work with you and offer payment plans. DUI lawyers are familiar with the court system and the prosecutors, know what plea bargains and sentence bargains are available, and can navigate complex administration procedures. These benefits are even more important if you are a repeat offender.
DWI laws can be confusing. If you’ve been arrested or charged with a DWI, you need an experienced DUI/DWI attorney. Call Matt Dearmore at (479) 255-2567 to discuss your case or contact us HERE.