What Are Traffic Violations and Infractions In Arkansas?
In Arkansas, individuals who disobey traffic laws are written up for committing traffic violations and infractions. These offenses may be intrinsically criminal or noncriminal and, in the state’s court system, are under the jurisdiction of the District Courts. Traffic violations are regarded as the more serious crimes, and offenders may incur fines, jail time, surcharges, court fees, licensing reinstatement fees, as well as other punishments including license invalidations, community service, insurance increases, and vehicle impoundment. Meanwhile, traffic infractions are the more frequent crimes and are resolved when the offender pays the complete fine before a date listed on a traffic ticket. Offenders who commit infractions may also gain demerit points on their licenses assigned by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).
What Are Felony Traffic Violations In Arkansas?
Under the Arkansas Code Annotated (A. C.A) §27–50–301, when a traffic offense is classified as a felony under state or federal traffic laws, it is a felony traffic violation. In the state, felony offenses that are not covered under the traffic laws, A. C.A §27–50–302, are established under the Arkansas Criminal Code, Title 5. Criminal traffic offenses are typically moving violations that are not resolved by payment of a fine alone. Instead, offenders who are found guilty may be sentenced to terms of imprisonment. Fines and sentencing for felonies are considered under A. C.A §5–4–201 and A. C.A §5–4–401. Also, the court may assess additional penalties as provided by A. C.A §27–50–306. Such penalties include license suspensions, attendance of a driver training school, retaking a driver’s test, additional fines, and in cases where the offender is a minor, probation. The court may also order the minor to write an essay on safe driving. In Arkansas, felony traffic violations are classified into five categories: Class Y, A, B, C, and D felonies. An offender convicted of a felony traffic violation may be subject to fines and sentencing as follows:
- Class Y felony: A prison sentence,10 to 40 years, or life
- Class A felony: A prison sentence, 6 to 30 years, and a fine, not exceeding $15,000
- Class B felony: A prison sentence, 5 to 20 years, and a fine, not exceeding $15,000
- Class C felony: A prison sentence, 3 to 10 years and a fine, not exceeding $10,000
- Class D felony: A prison sentence not over six years and a fine, not exceeding $10,000
Some felonies may also be unclassified and are fined and sentenced as defined in the specific statutes.
Examples Of Felony Traffic Violations In Arkansas?
Felony traffic violations in Arkansas include:
- Negligent homicide while operating a vehicle
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Repeat misdemeanor offenses
- Vehicular homicide
- Felony hit and run
- Driving while intoxicated (5th or subsequent offense within five years of the first offense)
What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In Arkansas?
Traffic misdemeanors in Arkansas are criminal moving and nonmoving traffic violations. Under A. C.A §5–1–107, misdemeanors have three classifications: Class A, B, and C. Like felonies, fines and jail sentencing for these offenses are authorized by A. C.A §5–4–201 and A. C.A §5–4–401, as well as A. C.A §27–50–304, depending on the gravity of the offense. However, certain misdemeanors have “unclassified” designations and are punishable according to provisions set in the violations’ statutes. Offenders who are convicted of misdemeanors are usually incarcerated in the county or other court-approved jails. The court may also consider other penalties, including community service, license restrictions, and additional fines.
Examples Of Traffic Misdemeanors In Arkansas?
The following offenses are examples of traffic misdemeanors in Arkansas, as established by A. C.A §27–50–302:
- Drag racing or observing a drag race
- Racing on a public highway
- Hazardous driving
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage
- Wrong-way driving
- One-way driving
- Speeding over fifteen miles per hour (15 m.p.h.)
- Reckless driving
- Driving without lights to avoid detection
- Use of nitrous oxide in a vehicle or motorcycle while on a highway or street
- Having over three violations within 12 months
- Driving while license is suspended or revoked
- School bus violations including overtaking, reckless endangerment of passengers in a school bus, and operating a vehicle that was formerly a school bus but is not currently
- Railroad grade crossings
- Church bus violations
- Possession of a forged or altered driver’s license
- Obtaining a driver’s license from the Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration using a false statement
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction In Arkansas?
Non-criminal violations are referred to as traffic infractions in Arkansas. These offenses are often mechanical violations and are not considered to be as severe as felonies or misdemeanors. Individuals charged with traffic infractions are not sentenced to prison but are subject to fines that vary according to the type of infraction committed. Furthermore, offenders are still liable to other penalties, such as loss of driver privileges (suspensions), community service, and late fees.
The following list contains examples of traffic infractions in Arkansas:
- Following too close
- Improper or unsafe lane changes
- Illegal U-turns
- Avoiding traffic lights, stop signs, intersections, or traffic control devices by driving onto or across private property.
- Illegal parking
- Colliding with parked or stopped vehicles, persons, or fixtures
- Driving at a speed that results in the tires of a vehicle skidding, spinning, or sliding
- Inattentive driving involving maintaining control of a vehicle
- Driving in a manner that endangers the welfare of passengers
- Extended objects that are from, or part of, a vehicle which endangers persons or property
- Large trucks, at least 20,000 Ibs, exceeding legal speed limits
- Failure to signal
- Failure to use a seatbelt
- Running a red light
How Does A Traffic Ticket Work In Arkansas?
An individual may either be ticketed for infractions or traffic violations in Arkansas. Citizens who have been ticketed for infractions are required to pay the full fine before the assigned date on the ticket or risk additional penalties. Whereas parties ticketed for criminal violations are required to appear in court on the date indicated on the ticket. It is not mandatory to appear in court for an infraction, but an offender may deny the charges and request a hearing from the applicable court. Individuals may visit the CourtConnect website, select “search by person/business name, or case type,” select the relevant ticket and view the event section to determine if a court appearance is required for a ticket. This detail will also be indicated on the ticket, as well as for instructions on how to resolve the ticket.
To pay for a traffic infraction, an individual may pay in-person, by mail, via phone, or using the state’s centralized online payment system, e-Traffic. Parties using e-Traffic are required to enter the following details to access their tickets:
- A first and last name, and
- The citation/traffic ticket number (or driver’s license number/state ID, or date of birth)
Available payment methods on the platform include Visa, Discover, or MasterCard. The FAQ web page may be viewed for platform inquiries. Otherwise, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) may be contacted on (501) 410–1900 or 1–800–950–8221.
Residents also have the option of attending a driving school in order not to have a violation reported on their records. However, only offenders who have “CPw/DS” on their tickets are qualified for this option.
Traffic procedures and payment methods in the Arkansas traffic courts may differ. Therefore, it is important to look up this information on the courts’ websites or contact the appropriate District Court for more information. Parties who have lost or misplaced their traffic tickets may contact the court in the county where the ticket was issued.
Are Driving Records Public In Arkansas?
No, according to A. C.A §27–50–907, driving records are not public information in Arkansas. Under the law, only the person named on a record and authorized third parties such as employers and insurance companies may access driving records. However, for third parties, access cannot be granted without the approval of the subject of the record. To get approval, the parties must sign and date a release form. This form remains active for five years unless a withdrawal is written and filed with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How To Find Driving Records In Arkansas?
An Arkansas driving record contains an individual’s driving history, including all past convictions, license restrictions, traffic violations, license points, and accidents. In the state, driving record requests are directed to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Records that may be requested from the DFA are of 3 types:
- Insurance records: contains 3-year histories of traffic violations.
- Commercial records: usually requested because of employment purposes
- History records: the complete driving records starting from the date a license was issued to present
Requesters are provided with three methods to obtain driving records: mail, in-person at the Arkansas Revenue Office, in-person at a Driving Records counter, and online. Below are the charges assessed by the DFA for these records:
- Insurance record: In-person and mail requests cost $8.50 per record. Online requests cost $11.50
- Commercial record: In-person and mail requests cost $10 per document. Online requests cost $13
- History record: Unlike the previous two, it is impossible to request a history record online or at a Revenue Office. This record may only be ordered by mail or in person at a Driving Records counter. It costs $8.50 for mail or in-person requests.
Online requests for insurance and commercial records may be made using the Online Driver Record (Traffic Violation Report) Request System. To use the system, requesters may input their first and last names, Arkansas driver license number, issuance date for a driver’s license, the last five digits of a social security number, and the type of report required.
Interested individuals may use the Requestor Form for mail and in-person (Revenue Office) requests. Requests at the counters may be submitted with the Arkansas Driving Records Request Counter Form. Third parties may submit a signed and dated Arkansas Driving Records Release Form along with the appropriate request form.
Companies may also request Drug and Alcohol Records from the DFA by mail or in-person at the Driving Records counter. It costs $1 per record. Rather than the release mentioned above and request forms, the applicant may use the Alcohol and Drug Records Release Form and Alcohol Drug Request Form instead.
Mail and in-person addresses of the DFA are available on the forms.
Can Traffic Violations And Infractions Be Expunged Or Sealed In Arkansas?
Individuals petition sentencing courts to grant an expunge or seal order to remove convictions, charges, and arrest histories from their records or restrict those records from public access. This is a form of relief that some U.S. states provide to ex-offenders to restore their privileges and rights. Arkansas is one of those states. Records sealed or expunged in Arkansas are criminal by nature, and traffic infractions are civil and non-criminal cases. Because of this, Arkansas statutes do not permit the courts to seal or expunge traffic infractions. However, traffic misdemeanors and felonies are criminal offenses and, as such, under A. C. A. § 16–90–1405, may be sealed or expunged. In Arkansas, the terms “seal” and “expunge” mean the same thing. That is, when a record is sealed, it ceases to exist (A. C.A §16–90–1417).. Felony convictions that can be sealed in the state are covered under A. C. A. § 16–90–1406 and include driving while intoxicated misdemeanor offenses. Ineligible felony convictions that cannot be sealed are listed under A. C. A. § 16–90–1408. An example of an ineligible felony traffic offense in Arkansas is one committed by commercial driver license or learner’s permit holders.