Drunk driving is a serious and deadly problem here in The Valley and across the rest of Wisconsin. In 2018, 199 people died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, accounting for nearly one out of every three highway fatalities.
Drunk driving charges are known as OWI or operating under the influence here in Wisconsin. The penalties for a conviction can have harsh personal and financial consequences, including losing your license or spending time behind bars if someone is hurt or killed.
Understand your rights if charged with OWI
If you are stopped by an officer who suspects you are driving under the influence and charged with OWI, that does not mean you will automatically be convicted, as some people believe. Many factors can be considered and challenged by your defense attorney, including:
- Did the officer have probable cause to stop you in the first place?
- Were field sobriety and breath tests correctly administered?
- Were the breath test results accurate?
- Was the blood test tampered with or mishandled in the chain of custody?
- Were you taking medications that caused a false positive?
- Did the officer read you your Miranda rights?
What is implied consent?
Under Wisconsin’s implied consent law, drivers are obligated to comply with field and breath test requests by officers when stopped under suspicion of OWI. You can refuse to take these tests. However, that refusal will lead to separate penalties, including your license being revoked for one year.
In addition, you must install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for a year, which brings installation costs and fees amounting to nearly $1,000. Those penalties can double if you have a passenger in the vehicle under age 16.
Protect your rights and your future
A first-offense OWI conviction can result in nearly $1,000 in fines and fees, plus have potential personal consequences for employment and educational opportunities. An experienced defense attorney will challenge the evidence against you, and in many cases, charges can be reduced or dropped.