Bill Allowing Reduced Charges In DWI Cases Passes Senate Committee

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LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) - The Arkansas Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday (March 10) to pass a bill that would allow reduced charges in certain DWI cases, according to legislative records.

The bill, which was filed by Rep. Marshall Wright, D-Forrest City, now heads for a full vote in the Senate. If it passes there it will have to be signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to become law.

Current Arkansas law states a suspect charged with DWI has to go trial or plead to those charges. Wright's bill, HB 1282, would allow prosecutors to reduce DWI charges in certain cases.

Tammy Hahn, who is a lead volunteer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Northwest Arkansas, said the organization strongly opposes Wright's bill. She said the legislation is counterproductive to MADD's mission.

"It will allow [DWI suspects] to plea to a lesser charge and there are consequences with everything we do," Hahn said. "So if you're able to get out of those consequences, there's really no lesson learned. We are taking steps back instead of forward in our campaign."

Pamela Sell, the MADD program manager in Arkansas, sent a letter Tuesday addressed to all Arkansas senators urging them "to protect families in Arkansas and not take steps to weaken the DWI law in our state" by voting against HB 1282.

You can read the full letter here.

HB 1282 passed the Arkansas House on Monday on a 52 to 30 vote with bipartisan support.


  • mack

    Meh. I’ll do my drinking at home. I could see the logic in this if a person was one point over, and no priors. The state would lose a ton of money if this passes. DWI is big $$$ 10 grand for the first offense.

  • Triamrider

    I’m afraid this is going in the wrong direction and sends the wrong message. But it is in keeping with the slippery slope we’re already on.

  • Paul

    All this does is protect the higher class from getting a DWI charge, as cliche as that sounds that’s what it will do. When they say certain cases they mean politicians, attorneys, prominent business owners, etc. The judge or prosecutor can not change the charge against the person, if this passes they can and why would you change the charge, if you are an Arkansas licensed drive you have to submit to a blood alcohol test which if it is over .08 should be enough evidence to convict. That’s just my opinion though, hopefully Asa doesn’t sign this.

  • Joe

    It’s all about protecting the rich and famous. People don’t want beer sold at gas stations but it’s ok to drive drunk and endanger the lives of the rest of us…. if you’re one of the favored few with money and influence. So what if it’s a first offense, if you drive drunk you should lose your license regardless of how much money you have or how important you think you are. Shameful politics.

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