Arkansas residents and visitors should know the drug and alcohol laws in “The Natural State.” After all, you need to know what to expect if you’re caught using illegal substances.

This is why so many people ask questions like “Is marijuana legal in Arkansas?” and “What are drug and alcohol-related crimes in this state?” Read on to get answers to these and other questions about drug and alcohol laws in Arkansas.

DWI Laws in Arkansas

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is illegal in Arkansas. Penalties include jail time and fines. Your driver’s license will be suspended, too, and you’ll need alcohol treatment.

In Arkansas, DWI is defined as driving a car with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. But you can also get a DWI for having the keys in the car’s ignition while drunk, even if the car is parked. This law is called “Actual Control of the Vehicle.”

Zero Tolerance Laws for Arkansas

Arkansas has a Zero Tolerance Law for underage drivers. This means if you’re under

21 years old, the legal BAC is 0.02%, not 0.08%.

Thus, even one drink could put minor drivers over the legal limit. The point of this law is to reduce the high rate of drunk driving among minors.

Is Marijuana Legal in Arkansas?

Recreational marijuana is illegal in Arkansas. However, medical marijuana is legal.

If you qualify for a medical marijuana card in this state, you have to buy this drug from a dispensary.

Unlike in some states, a medical marijuana card does not let you grow your own marijuana. In addition, you can only buy up to 2.5 ounces every 14 days.

Drug and Alcohol-Related Crimes in Arkansas 

Drug crime in Arkansas includes:

  • Possession of controlled substances: If you’re caught with a small amount of a drug, you could face charges that depend on the type of drug. For example, possession of cocaine or meth carries more serious charges and penalties than antidepressants or marijuana.
  • Manufacturing controlled substances: If you’re charged with manufacturing, cultivating, or creating drugs in Arkansas—especially meth or cocaine—you’re facing a felony.
  • Possession with intent to deliver: If the police believe you intend to sell or give drugs to someone else, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. This depends on the type and amount of drugs.
  • Drug trafficking: You may be charged with a felony if you’re caught transporting a large amount of drugs. For example, if you transport 200 grams or more of cocaine, meth, or heroin, you could get a felony. The same goes if you transport at least 800 grams of antidepressants, or 500 pounds or more of marijuana.

Alcohol-related crime in Arkansas includes: 

  • Underage drinking: Drinking or possessing alcohol under age 21 is illegal.
  • Furnishing alcoholic beverages to a minor: It’s illegal for an adult to sell or give alcohol to anyone under age 21.
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI): It’s illegal to drive a car in Arkansas while under the influence of alcohol.

Penalties for Drug or Alcohol Abuse in Arkansas

If you break these drug and alcohol laws in Arkansas, you risk the following penalties:

DWI Penalties in Arkansas

Getting a DWI in Arkansas can lead to:

  • 24 hours to 1 year in jail
  • At least 24 hours of community service
  • $150 to $1,000 in fines
  • Suspended license for 6 months

These penalties are for a first offense. For a second offense, you could get at least 7 days in

jail and $400 to $3,000 in fines. A third DWI in Arkansas could get you 90 days in jail and $900 to $5,000 in fines.

Zero Tolerance Penalties in Arkansas

Breaking the Zero Tolerance law in Arkansas could lead to the following:

  • $100 to $500 in fines
  • Suspended license for 90 days

These penalties are for the first time you break the Zero Tolerance law. For a second or third offense, expect more fines, a longer license suspension period, and 30 days of community service.

Cannabis Penalties in Arkansas

If you’re caught with less than 4 ounces of cannabis, and it’s your first offense, you could

get a $2,500 fine and up to 1 year in jail.

If you have 4 ounces to 10 pounds of cannabis, or if it’s your second offense and you have 1 to 4 ounces, expect the following penalties:

  • Felony charges
  • 6 years or less in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

Higher amounts of cannabis can lead to up to 30 years in prison and $15,000 in fines.

The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice. Consult with a lawyer before making decisions that could lead to drug or alcohol charges. 

Get Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Arkansas 

Being concerned about the drug and alcohol laws in Arkansas could mean you need help

with addiction. You can get that help today when you contact your local treatment center today to begin the recovery process!


  1. DUI and DWI Defenses. (2011, October 10)
  2. DUI/DWI Information. (n.d.)
  3. Medical Marijuana FAQ’s Arkansas Department of Health. (n.d.)
  4. Arkansas. (n.d.)
  5. Arkansas Marijuana Laws. (n.d.)

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