Impaired Driving


"Distracted driving is an epidemic." ~Maureen Vogel, National Safety Council

Impaired driving is a choice.

Therefore, safe driving is a choice. Drivers can choose to drive sober, get plenty of rest and pay attention.

Impaired drivers risk injuring or killing themselves and their passengers. They also expose everyone on the road to unnecessary risks. The best defense against impaired drivers is wearing a seat belt.

Impairment is a diminished ability to drive, which can be caused by

  • Drinking and Driving,
  • Distracted Driving,
  • Drugged Driving, &
  • Drowsy Driving.

The four “Ds” of Impaired Driving can be—one more word that starts with a D, deadly. Statistics show a third of traffic crash related deaths are attributable to alcohol. Distracted driving fatalities are increasing annually. While NHTSA and other researchers are studying the best ways to get identifiable and conclusive data on drugged and drowsy driving, both are responsible for thousands of lives lost each year on our nation’s roads. Scroll down to learn more or click one of the links below to the respective section.

Drinking & Driving | Distracted Driving | Drugged Driving | Drowsy Driving Other: Buzzed Driving | Designate Before You Celebrate I Impaired Driving Resources | Take the SAFE Drivers Pledge

Drinking & Driving

In 2019 an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occured every 52 Minutes.*

*Source: Overview of the 2019 Crash Investigation Sampling System (

Though Drinking & Driving has decreased over the years, statistics still show a third of traffic crash related deaths are attributable to alcohol. In 2019, these deaths reached the lowest percentage since 1982 when NHTSA started reporting alcohol data — but still 10,142 people lost their lives. These deaths were all preventable.

  • 28 people die in drunk driving crashes every day in the U.S., or one every 52 minutes.
  • All drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher are driving under the influence (DUI). Drivers under age 21 can be convicted of illegal consumption of alcohol with a BAC of .02 to less than .08.

What is the typical sentence for a first time drunk driving offender in Arkansas?

Arkansas' DWI laws permit an automatic suspension of a person's driver's license upon a first offense. A first time DWI offense may cause a driver's license to be suspended for six months. ... If an ignition interlock device is allowed, then the license is suspended for at least 45 days.**

**Source: ›

Buzzed Driving

Drunk driving is deadly, and so can buzzed driving—driving after consuming a small amount of alcohol.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a .02% BAC results in a decline in visual function, an inability to multi-task and some loss of judgement.

At a .05% BAC, drivers experience reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and a reduced response to emergency situations.

Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over

Drinking and driving can damage your...

  • Financial Situation

From fines to lawyer fees to car insurance increases, a DUI in Arkansas can cost you between $5,000 to $20,000.

  • Public Image

People convicted of a DUI often face a harsh social stigma.

  • Physical & Mental Health

Being injured while driving drunk—or carrying the guilt of injuring others—can take a serious toll on your well-being.



Make The Choice Designate Before You Celebrate

Plan a safe ride home. Arkansas, be safe. Don’t drink and drive.

We all wish our lives would return to normal—but as we go out to restaurants, other venues and parties to gather with friends, remember to plan a safe ride home. The ones who don’t could face negative consequences.

In 2020, almost one third of all traffic deaths in the state of Arkansas involved alcohol. This year, law enforcement continues on Arkansas roads and highways, looking for drunk drivers in every region of the state to prevent crashes and save lives.

In Arkansas, you are legally considered to be driving under the influence if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. And Arkansas has a zero-tolerance policy for people under age 21 who drink and drive.

Be smart. If you’ve been drinking, don’t get behind the wheel. It’s not worth the risk of getting a DUI—or worse, risking your life and the lives of others.

If you’re going out and there is even a possibility that you may drink alcohol, you need to plan for a safe ride home. With just a few drinks you could be too impaired to safely drive. If you choose a friend to be a designated driver before you’ve had too much to drink, you can have a good time and get home safely.

Choosing a designated driver could be one of the most important decisions you make.


Drugged Driving

Driving after taking certain medications and all illegal drugs is risky and may cause traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

Drivers cannot judge their own level of impairment after smoking marijuana or taking other illegal drugs, so any amount of consumption puts them and others at risk.

Those who drive high on drugs could get a DUI.

Law enforcement officers across Arkansas are trained to recognize drugged drivers. According to a recent roadside study by the National Highway Traffic Administration, one in four drivers on America’s roads tested positive for at least one drug that impacts safety

Prescription Medications and Driving

If drivers take over-the-counter medications and/or prescriptions, they must first learn how they could impact their driving ability. Drivers should:

  • Read all labeling.
  • Never combine alcohol or drugs with medicine.
  • Discuss impacts on driving with your doctor.
  • Insure you physicians know everything you are taking.

Distracted Driving


Number of people killed by distracted driving in 2019*


What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted Driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving, especially those that take your eyes off of the road or take your hands off of the wheel.

  1. Texting, snapchat or messaging
  2. Using a Cellphone/Smartphone
  3. Eating, Drinking and Smoking
  4. Talking to passengers
  5. Grooming
  6. Reading, including maps
  7. Using a Navigation System
  8. Taking photo or selfie
  9. Adjusting Radio, CD/MP3 Player

While a driver is distracted, he or she may not be able to react to a changing environment.

The driver loses precious seconds before recognizing the situation and must make an emergency maneuver. The three basic types of distracted driving are mechanical, visual, and cognitive. All types increase crash risk.

  1. Visual: During visual distraction, drivers’ eyes are off the road, such as looking at a billboard or the dashboard.
  2. Mechanical: A driver’s hand is off the wheel during mechanical distraction, such as eating or handling an object.
  3. Cognitive: Cognitive distraction poses the highest risk because the driver’s mind is off driving. When a driver’s brain is overloaded by two cognitive tasks, such as driving and talking on the phone, drivers make the phone conversation the main task and driving becomes the secondary task, without recognizing it. Driving is severely impaired as a secondary task, and the impairment can last a long time.

Texting while driving continues to be one of the leading causative factors and is one of the most visible unsafe driving behaviors.

Texting while driving is illegal and a primary offense in Arkansas. A texting while driving conviction carries fines ranging from $50 to $250 for a first offense and up to $500 for any subsequent offense. Arkansas law enforcement officers urge you to put your phone down when you get behind the wheel. If you need to text, then pull over and stop the vehicle..

Other top actions for distracted driving crashes in Arkansas involve rubbernecking, talking with passengers, and adjusting the radio.

Arkansas Distracted Driving Law

  • Handheld ban for drivers age 18-20 years old (Primary law)
  • Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary law)
  • Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Secondary law)
  • Ban on texting for all drivers (Primary law)

Note: Arkansas defines novice drivers as all drivers under the age of 18.


Young distracted drivers are even more susceptible.

Inexperience in handling or controlling a vehicle during an emergency combined with distracted driving puts them at greater risk of a crash.

More young people are involved in distracted driving crashes than any other age group. The main types of collisions were rear end crashes and running off the road into a fixed object. The top driver action was “eyes not on the road.”


Drowsy Driving

Not enough rest or sleep before driving may cause drowsiness which can be as deadly as drunk, distracted, and drugged driving.

Other drivers honking their horns at you is not the only way you can tell if you’re driving drowsy. Heavy eyelids, head nodding, constant yawning, missing road signs and exits, difficulty remembering the last few miles driven, unplanned lane changes, hitting rumble strips, or driving off the road are all signs of drowsy driving.

Drowsy drivers struggle to process complex information coming from different places at once. It increases crash risks for these drivers may make careless driving decisions and have trouble paying attention or fall asleep while driving.

Impaired Driving Resources

College Drinking—Changing the Culture

Governor’s Highway Safety Association

Highway Safety Research Center

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

NHTSA—Drunk Driving

Smart Safe and Sober

Drugged Driving Resources:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Distracted Driving Resources

NHTSA—Distracted Driving

Stop Distractions

Drowsy Driving Resources

National Sleep Foundation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


NHTSA Research for Impaired Driving Fatalities And Countermeasures Developed To Reduce Them

During the period from 2005 through 2009 the percentage of impaired driving fatalities, as a percentage of the total were at 29 percent. Fatalities for 2005 were 654 but declined to 585 in 2009. Alcohol related fatalities fluctuated up in 2006 and then down through 2009. The State experienced a decrease from 181 in 2007 to 168 in 2009.

In 2009, the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC) reported 11,786 driving while intoxicated (DWI)/ driving under the influence (DUI) arrests. The 2010 preliminary data from ACIC (as of July 26, 2011) showed 10,383 DWI/DUI arrests. The continuing trend in lower arrest numbers, over the past several years, is an issue that has been questioned and researched. Agencies have reported manpower shortages, lack of training, DWI courtroom defense tactics and higher paying off-duty opportunities as contributory factors for the decline in impaired driving enforcement.

The percentage of fatally injured drivers testing positive for drugs increased over the last five years, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Each year between 56% and 65% of drivers fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes were tested for the presence of drugs in their systems. In 2009, 33% of the 12,055 of drivers fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes with known test results tested positive* for at least one drug, compared to 28% in 2005. The drugs tested for included both illegal substances as well as over-the counter and prescription medications, (which may or may not have been misused). In 2009, marijuana was the most prevalent drug found in this population—approximately 28% of fatally injured drivers who tested positive were positive for marijuana.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2012 report for Arkansas, the availability and rate of drug abuse in Arkansas remains high coinciding with the smuggling of methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana, the drugs of choice, for local consumption and further distribution.

The largest quantities of drugs are seized on the highways via interdiction programs. Methamphetamine has become Arkansas’ primary drug of concern. The state’s rural landscape provides for an ideal setting for illicit manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Each year the request for drug recognition expert (DRE) training exceeds the available resources in personnel. However, the acceptance and importance of the DRE program is gaining momentum throughout the state, with increased interest in agencies having certified DRE officers in their ranks.

Arkansas has increased the number of prosecutor positions as a result of increased demands upon the criminal justice system to meet speedy trial requirements. Prosecutors must become acquainted with alcohol and other drug testing procedures along with relevant case law, new validation studies, new legislation and testing updates.

Countermeasures to address the alcohol and other drug driving problems in Arkansas include the following: Selective Traffic Enforcement Projects (STEPs); Prosecutor, Judicial and Law Enforcement Training Projects; a BAC Intoximeter Training Project; Youth Intervention and Training Projects; Underage Drinking; Alcohol Safety Education Programs; Blood Alcohol Training & Sobriety Checkpoint Mobile Training Project; Pilot DWI Courts, and a public information and enforcement campaign, ―Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over‖.

Impaired Driving Is A Choice. Choose Safety, Arkansas.

Arkansas Highway Safety Office