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    DWI: The first offense and what it can cost

    10:51 PM, Dec 31, 2012   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) - Having a little too much fun this New Year's Eve could cost you more than you think. THV 11 News took a closer look at DWIs and how just a first offense can hit your pocketbook and your future.

    You've probably seen the scenes on TV, thinking it won't happen to you, but if it does, authorities said to expect all those field sobriety tests followed by trip to jail.

    "Typically you will spend some time in jail on the first night, it depends on your level of intoxication, it could be up to 24 hours if you're highly intoxicated," said Mike Sappington, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with the 22ND Judicial District based in Benton.

    Sappington said a breath test is part of the protocol, too.

    "We in Arkansas have an implied consent law that when you get a driver's license, you have consented that if an officer has probable cause to believe that you could be intoxicated, you will take a chemical test to determine that," Sappington said.

    You can still refuse the test, but Sappington said that you'll face an added charge for that.

    If you're ultimately convicted, he said a first time DWI carries fines and court costs from $1,000 to $1,500. There are also alcohol treatment classes starting at $150 a class, according to the Driver Control Division with the State Department of Revenue. There is also a $10 charge to attend a Victim Impact Panel, a day-long program where offenders hear the stories of victims from DWI accidents.

    You'll lose your license, too, for six months and can only drive with an Interlock devise that starts the engine after you pass a breath test.

    "If you are caught driving (without an Interlock), you will spend more time in jail and you will have more fines," Sappington said.

    It's more to pile onto an already bad situation that is all business and no play.

    "I think that most people think that it's just a small traffic citation, that you just pay a little fine and go on their way," Sappington said.

    Sappington said a DWI conviction, while a misdemeanor and your first one, stays on your record forever even outside of Arkansas.

    The conviction costs add up even more with the Interlock device for your car; that amount all depends on the installation cost and your monthly monitoring fee.


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