Understanding Arkansas Traffic Laws in 2023

Understanding Arkansas Traffic Laws in 2023

Traffic laws vary from state to state. For example, did you know that in Arkansas, it’s illegal to honk your car horn anywhere that serves cold drinks or sandwiches after 9 p.m.? Or that in Youngstown, Ohio, it’s a misdemeanor to run out of gas whilst driving? 

These may seem silly, but they’re real. And so are some of the most important laws that pertain to our everyday safety, like speed limits and seat belt requirements. 

Every few years, local laws may change, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on what’s current in your state. Whether you’re a long-time Arkansas resident, a newcomer to the state, or planning a visit, this post will serve as your compass through the labyrinth of current Arkansas traffic laws.

Speed Limits and Highway Safety

Speed regulation is a fundamental aspect of ensuring the safety of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. More than a quarter of fatal car crashes were due to speeding in 2022. 

Here are the speed limits you need to know while traveling in the Natural State:

  • Divided highways: The speed limit is 65 mph on divided highways that have a physical barrier or median separating opposing lanes of traffic.
  • Undivided highways: The speed limit is 60 mph on undivided highways where there is no physical barrier or median between opposing lanes.
  • Business districts and residential areas: The speed limit is 30 mph in these areas to account for increased vehicle and pedestrian interaction.
  • School zones: The speed limit is reduced to 25 mph in school zones to ensure the safety of children crossing streets or walking near roads.

Driving Under the Influence or While Intoxicated

Arkansas unfortunately has a high rate of DUI-related deaths, with 4.45 impaired driving deaths per 100,000 people.

Penalties for drunk driving offenses in the state include:

  • First-time offenders: They may face a maximum jail term of up to one year. If a passenger under 16 years old was in the vehicle during the offense, a mandatory minimum of 7 days in jail is required. First-time offenders can also be fined between $150 and $1,000.
  • Subsequent offenses: Repeat offenses result in longer jail sentences, ranging from 7 days to multiple years, depending on prior convictions. Subsequent offenders may face higher fines, potentially up to $5,000.
  • License suspension: A first offense can lead to a minimum 6-month driver’s license suspension. License suspension periods increase with subsequent convictions.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID): Depending on the circumstances, the court may require the installation of an IID in the offender’s vehicle at their expense.

Consulting with a qualified DUI/DWI attorney like the team at Hickey & Hull is crucial to understanding the potential penalties you may face and effectively navigating the legal process. They can provide personalized guidance, represent you in court, and work toward minimizing the impact of the charges you’re facing.

Seat Belt and Child Restraint Laws

The safety of passengers, especially children, is a top priority on Arkansas roads. To protect young passengers and promote responsible driving practices, the state has implemented specific seat belt and child restraint laws. 

  • Child restraint laws: All children under two years of age must ride in a rear-facing car seat. They should remain in rear-facing car seats until they weigh 40 lbs or are at least 4’9" tall.
  • Seat belt laws: Seat belts are mandatory for all front-seat passengers, including drivers and passengers. Children under 15 years of age must be properly secured in the vehicle, regardless of their seating position.
  • Child passenger safety seats: Children under six years old and weighing less than 60 lbs must be restrained in a child passenger safety seat.

Also, ensure that the car seat you choose meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) to ensure proper safety standards are met. If you need assistance installing your child’s seat, local organizations offer free checks and training. You can also follow Arkansas Children’s for tutorials and more safety information.

Cell Phone Usage and Texting While Driving

Arkansas has specific laws to reduce the risks associated with distracted driving:

  • Texting, emailing, and internet use are strictly prohibited for all drivers, regardless of age. Violating this law can result in fines of $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.
  • Talking on the phone is allowed in most situations, except when driving through school zones or highway work zones with present workers. In these restricted zones, drivers must use hands-free technology to make or receive calls.
  • Drivers under 18 years old have stricter regulations. For these young drivers, all cell phone use, including talking and texting, is prohibited, except in emergencies.

Move Over Law

When encountering an emergency vehicle with activated sirens and/or flashing lights, Arkansas law requires drivers to move at least one lane away from the vehicle if possible. This lane change gives emergency responders the space they need to perform their duties safely. If changing lanes isn’t possible, drivers must reduce their speed below the speed limit or to a reasonable speed as defined by local law.

Did You Get a Traffic Ticket? 

At Hickey & Hull, our experienced traffic attorneys understand the complexities of traffic court cases in Arkansas. 

Whether you’re dealing with a simple speeding ticket or more serious offenses like reckless driving or DUI charges, we’re here to provide expert advice and representation. 

Chat with us, fill out our online form, or call today at 479.434.2414 (River Valley office) or 479.802.6560 (Northwest Arkansas) for a free consultation.