There’s a lot of misinformation out there about OWI offenses in Wisconsin. Many people believe that being arrested for operating while intoxicated is no big deal, or that they can’t get in trouble if they refuse to be tested.
The legal team at Stroud, Willink & Howard would like to dispel some of these myths and make sure you know the truth.
Three Important Facts About Wisconsin OWI Offenses:
1. You can be punished for refusing breath or blood tests
If you’re ever arrested for OWI in Wisconsin, you will probably be asked whether you will submit to a chemical test of your breath or blood. Although it might seem like a bad idea to give the police additional evidence that could be used against you in court, Wisconsin law requires you to consent to these tests if a police officer requests them.
You still can refuse a breath or blood test, but doing so can sometimes make the situation even worse. First, penalties can be imposed for the refusal. You can have your license revoked, be required to attend classes, and be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle simply for refusing to take the test—even if the OWI ends up being dropped! Second, if you refuse to take the test, the officer can often apply for a warrant, which allows the police to obtain a blood sample even if you object. Finally, if you go to court on the OWI case, the fact that you refused the test can be used against you.
2. Wisconsin has serious penalties for OWI offenses
At first glance, a fine and no jail time can seem like a minor penalty for driving drunk, so it’s easy to assume you can get off lightly. But in Wisconsin, you can also have your driver’s license revoked for six to nine months after your first offense. If your BAC is over 0.15, you can be placed in a 24/7 sobriety program or required to install an ignition interlock device in your car. Mandatory jail time is required on any repeat offense, and the penalties get steeper with every conviction. The definition of “impaired” gets progressively stricter as well.
3. You can still be convicted of an OWI if you weren’t driving a car
Wisconsin’s definition of operating while intoxicated doesn’t just include driving cars on the road. If you’re behind the wheel of a running car, you could get an OWI. You can also be convicted for operating a snowmobile, a boat, or a lawnmower while intoxicated.
If you’ve been arrested for operating while intoxicated in Wisconsin, you absolutely need to take it seriously, even if it’s your first offense. This means you should hire an experienced lawyer to help with your defense as soon as possible. At Welch and Schmeiser, we have years of experience at getting favorable results for our clients. Defending yourself alone is never a wise idea. You can schedule a free consultation with us at our website or by calling 608-480-6809.