Being involved in a car accident is a serious situation, especially when serious injuries are involved. Negligence is the general theory involved in filing a claim for damages in a car accident case. As Joplin accident attorneys know, these claims become more serious when a drunk driver is involved. When a drunk driver causes an accident that injures someone, there can be civil claims as well as criminal penalties. If you or someone you know has been injured by a drunk driver, Joplin accident attorneys can guide you through the process of obtaining compensation.
Drunk Driving laws in Arkansas
Arkansas uses different terms to describe drunk driving depending on whether the driver is an adult or underage. The term Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) refers to adult drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .08%. DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, is used to refer to underage drivers with a BAC under .08%. The penalties for a DWI in Arkansas include both administrative and criminal action. That means both the state’s licensing department and the local courts get involved.
Administrative Penalties in Arkansas
For the first DWI offense, your driver’s license will be suspended typically for six months. The driver can request a hearing regarding the suspension, prior to being convicted, and have legal counsel present to help contest the impending suspension. Hardship licenses may be available in special cases, but those drivers will be required to use an ignition interlock device for at least six months. An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer for vehicles, which requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting the vehicle. The driver is required to pay for the device.
Criminal Penalties in Arkansas
Criminal penalties for drunk driving in Arkansas can include both jail time and fines. Arkansas also has enhanced penalties for drivers convicted of DUI/DWI while a minor was in the vehicle. A conviction for a first offense could result in a minimum sentence of 24 hours and a maximum of one year. In some cases, the court may order community service in lieu of serving jail time.
The fines for a first offense can range from $150 to $1,000. These fines do not include other costs such as probation fees, ignition interlock device costs, and other surcharges and fees. Some offenders may be ordered to undergo mandatory alcohol or substance abuse counseling and to attend a victim impact panel.
Drunk Driving laws in Missouri
A first conviction for DUI or DWI in Missouri can lead to incarceration, fines, and administrative penalties. Underage drivers and drivers with commercial driver’s licenses may be subject to different penalties.
Administrative Penalties in Missouri
Someone convicted of a first DUI or DWI offense in Missouri will likely have their driver’s license suspended for 30 days, and be subject to another 60-day restricted suspension. Under the implied consent laws in Missouri, if a driver refuses to submit to a breathalyzer test there will be an automatic license revocation for one year. As in Arkansas, the court can order the use of an ignition interlock device upon reinstatement of a driver’s license.
Criminal Penalties in Missouri
A first offense DUI in Missouri does not result in a mandatory jail sentence. However, the court still has the discretion to order incarceration of up to six (6) months. The fines associated with a first offense DUI in Missouri cannot exceed $500. This amount does not include the costs associated with license reinstatement, payment of other surcharges and court fees, or the costs incurred during completion of a jail sentence.
Criminal vs. civil suits for drunk driving injuries
In drunk driving cases, criminal proceedings are meant to not only punish the drunk driver for his or her recklessness but also to deter drunk driving in general. That’s why a drunk driver can be prosecuted in criminal court, even when there was no accident. A civil lawsuit based on a car accident caused by a drunk driver is a separate proceeding.
The purpose of the civil suit is to recover the costs of medical treatment, lost wages, damaged property or other losses resulting from the accident. Civil suits, depending upon the law of your jurisdiction, also may offer the opportunity to recover non-economic damages, i.e. money for pain and suffering. Depending on the state where the accident occurred, you may also be able to recover for pain and suffering or other types of emotional damages. Joplin accident attorneys are capable of navigating through the necessary court proceedings.
If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury issues in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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