Will Arkansas reduce drunk driving penalties?

The Arkansas state legislature may reduce the penalties associated with drunk driving despite opposition from groups like MADD.

Recently, the Arkansas House of Representatives voted to approve a bill that could end up reducing the penalties people will face after drunk driving arrests. According to THV11.com, House Bill 1282 would give drivers the opportunity to enter pleas for lesser charges and avoid typical DWI consequences. The State Senate will vote on the bill next. A passing vote there will send the bill to the Governor.

The dangers of drunk driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has come out in opposition of HB 1282 and is actively urging state senators to vote against the bill. Especially with the spring break season at hand, the awareness of how grave drinking and driving can be. MADD statistics show that alcohol use among teens leads to as many as 4,700 fatalities each year.

More detailed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration give Arkansas residents a view into drunk driving in their own state. In 2013, 123 people died at the hands of drunk drivers. Along with such deaths comes the grief and trauma of losing a loved one for so many others.

Washington County was the site of three of the state's alcohol-related traffic fatalities that year. Only four other counties in the state lost more lives in drunk driving crashes. Specific information is as follows:

  • In Pulaski County, 19 lives were lost to drunk drivers.
  • In Garland County, nine lives were lost to drunk drivers.
  • In Mississippi County, five lives were lost to drunk drivers.
  • In Craighead County, four lives were lost to drunk drivers.

Washington County and neighboring Benton, Crawford and Madison Counties together accounted for eight of Arkansas' drunk driving deaths that year.

High blood alcohol levels increase the risk

Records from the Century Council for 2012 show that nearly 70 percent of all drunk drivers involved in fatal car accidents that year had excessively high blood alcohol levels. A BAC of 0.15 percent or more is considered extremely high. Many a serious car accident has been caused by drivers with these levels of alcohol in their systems.

Other efforts in Arkansas

One college football coach recently made a statement to an Arkansas student and player. Larry Brown Sports reported that after the player's drunk driving arrest, the coach arranged with the driver's mother to have his vehicle taken away.

While it is good to see that some people are willing to take a stance on drunk driving. It is unknown at this point how the State Senate will vote on HB 1282 but all Arkansas residents should remember they have rights. This includes the right to compensation when involved in a drunk driving accident. Contacting an attorney when this happens is important.

Keywords: DUI, drunk driving, penalties