What Does it Mean to be “Intoxicated”?

This is the first post in what we hope to be an ongoing (and informative!) series: Arkansas DWI Answers. As Arkansas DWI attorneys, our goal is simply to answer the most common questions about Arkansas DWI and DUI in plain English so you can understand your options. (And hire us, of course, but first you need to know what you’re dealing with.)

If you or someone you know has received an Arkansas DWI or Arkansas DUI, you know that it is frightening. It can also be confusing because normal words like “intoxicated,” “driving,” and “vehicle,” can have different meanings. This short post is designed to help you understand what the term “intoxication” means.

What Does It Mean to Be “Intoxicated”?

This is the official DWI definition of “intoxicated”:

“influenced or affected by the ingestion of alcohol, a controlled substance, any intoxicant, or any combination of alcohol, a controlled substance, or an intoxicant, to such a degree that the driver’s reactions, motor skills, and judgment are substantially altered and the driver, therefore, constitutes a clear and substantial danger of physical injury or death to himself and other motorists or pedestrians.”

Ark. Code Ann. § 5-65-102(2) (Repl. 2005).

As you can tell, the definition of “intoxicated” is broad. Virtually anything can be an intoxicant if it impairs your ability to drive. It does not matter if you have been prescribed the intoxicant, either. So yes, that means you need to be careful with that Hydrocodone you got after getting your wisdom teeth out. And that Ambien you take once-a-month when you can’t sleep. And that Benadryl you take when you mow your yard. (Maybe you can just wear a mask.)

This definition is important because there are two ways you can be charged with an Arkansas DWI. The law that most people know about has to do with BAC, or blood alcohol content. Under Arkansas law, you can be charged with a DWI if your BAC is .08 or above—proof that you’re intoxicated. But you can also be charged with an Arkansas DWI if you are driving a vehicle while intoxicated, regardless of your BAC.

So if you’ve taken something that impairs your ability to drive, you are legally intoxicated—whether alcohol, illegal drugs, or legal drugs. If you get pulled over while intoxicated, you are at risk of being charged with a DWI.

For more information about Arkansas DWI’s (and many other riveting legal topics), please click around our intoxicatingly good website (zing!). We want you to be informed.

And if you (or someone you know) has been charged with a DWI, you need to contact an experienced, aggressive Arkansas DWI lawyer. That’s us. (But calling anyone is better than nothing. Seriously, you need to get out in front of this thing.)