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Drunk Driving FAQs

If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving (Operating While Intoxicated: OWI) in Wisconsin, it is important that you know your rights as a citizen, and how to choose the best legal representation. The following is a list of a few common questions we hear related to OWI.

What is the Legal Limit in Wisconsin?

The legal limit – or prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC) – is generally 0.08 g/210L of breath or 0.08 g/mL of blood. Under certain circumstances, the PAC is much lower – 0.02. (For example, if you have 3 or more prior OWI’s or are under an ignition interlock device order, as well as other rarer situations.) The limit for commercial drivers is 0.04. The legal drinking age in Wisconsin is 21. If you are under the age of 21 and your test comes back with anything over 0.00%, you can be charged with a separate offense under the “zero tolerance” law.

Can I refuse to be tested if pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving?

Not without incurring penalties. Wisconsin has the law of “implied consent,” which means that by having a Wisconsin driver’s license, an arresting officer can make you choose to test or not. If you “refuse” after being read the Informing the Accused form, then your privilege to drive may be revoked. The test can be administered via a breath, blood, or urine test. A judicial finding of a refusal – or a default judgment if you fail to request a hearing within 10 days – will result in the revocation of your license.

If my BAC is 0.08% or over am I guilty, case closed?

Absolutely not! Thankfully in this country, we do not have trial by machine – we have trial by jury. In order to convict you, the government must convince a jury. Our attorneys have undergone extensive legal and scientific training to defend people accused of these offenses. Depending on the individual facts of your case, many potential challenges may exist, including arguments that the test result is wrong.

If convicted of drunk driving, what type of penalties could I face?

If this is your first offense, you can expect a fine plus court costs totaling between $800-1,000. Six points will be added to your driving record and your license will be revoked for 6-9 months. You will also have to undergo an Alcohol and Other Drug Assessment (AODA) to get your driver’s license reinstated. You may also be subject to an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) order which requires you to install an IID on all vehicles registered to you and prevents you from operating any motor vehicle not equipped with an IID.

A second offense will result in 5 days to 6 months jail time (which can sometimes be served on electronic home monitoring), a $350-1,100 fine plus court costs, license revocation and ignition interlock device for 12-18 months, and six points added to your driving record. Like a first offense, you will also be required to undergo a chemical assessment before your driving privileges are reinstated.

Continued offenses will result in continually harsher penalties.

Even if I plan to plead guilty should I still contact a lawyer?

Yes. If you have been arrested on a drunk driving related offense, a 10-day clock has already begun to run on your right to challenge either the revocation or administrative suspension of your driving privileges. These license proceedings are a related, but distinct issue from your court case and require additional and immediate attention.

A good defense attorney will acquire and review all the relevant materials to your case including: police reports, squad video, dispatch records and maintenance records for the blood/breath testing machinery. The police only have one side of the story and often miss important aspects of the case that are worthy of consideration.

Our attorneys pride themselves on defending people against the power of government in every type of drunk driving case in the State of Wisconsin. If you’ve been charged with a drunk driving related offense, let us fight for you. Contact us today!