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Appleton Wisconsin Criminal Law Blog

Dinner with friends is over, so you get in your car and set your GPS for home. You start your engine, buckle your seatbelt, and head down the road. Suddenly, you see flashing police lights in your rearview mirror. You quickly make your way to a side street and stop your car.

You fear the worst when the officer gets out of their car and starts walking toward you. Why did they pull me over? What questions will they ask? Will they know I had a drink at dinner?

Be Polite, But Don’t Overshare

Traffic stops can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you have been drinking. But, regardless of what led them to turn their sirens on, your interaction with the officer who pulled you over can influence the outcome of the stop.

When speaking with law enforcement, always comply when requested to hand over your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. Even though you may be upset at the prospect of a traffic ticket, observing basic social courtesies such as saying “please” and “thank you” can ease your interaction with the officer.

That said, you have a solid legal ground to stand on if you refuse to answer further questions the officer may ask.

If an officer asks you a question you are uncomfortable answering, you have the right to decline to respond. However, answering an officer’s questions at a traffic stop could lead to accidental self-incrimination. You do not want to say anything that could make the officer suspicious, and in most circumstances, sharing as little as possible is your best course of action.

Law enforcement is responsible for keeping a record of the traffic stop, and if you tell them that you have been drinking, your statement may even lead to DUI charges.

Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent

Even if you may not feel intoxicated after having one or two drinks before getting behind the wheel, you may unknowingly surpass the legal limit of .08% BAC. It is important to remember that you do not need to tell the officer that you have been drinking – even if they ask you directly.

The U.S. Constitution protects you from giving testimony that could incriminate you, and you should exercise this right when pulled over. If the officer asks you if you have been drinking or any other seemingly harmless question, calmly inform the officer that you will exercise your right to remain silent.

Drunk driving charges are addressed differently depending on the state in which you are charged. In Wisconsin, these charges are referred to as OWI offenses. Penalties for OWI offenses can be severe depending on the circumstances of your arrest, so it is essential to consult with skilled legal counsel to help minimize these negative outcomes.

Throughout the United States, OWI convictions are commonly referred to as DUIs – Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicant. Wisconsin statutes refer to these chargers with the acronym OWI – Operating A Vehicle While Intoxicated.

Unlike some DUI convictions, you may be subject to an OWI arrest even if the vehicle you are operating is not moving. This distinction is part of the reason why Wisconsin uses the OWI acronym instead of DUI. This subtle difference means that you could face drunk driving penalties even if you were parked or stopped at a light.

A related charge – Operating With a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC) – often accompanies OWI and applies to any test result being over .08. For defendants with three prior OWI/PAC convictions, the legal limit is .02.

Drunk Driving Penalties in Wisconsin

Drunk driving consequences vary depending on your BAC and the number of prior OWI offenses. Because penalties escalate with each repeat offense, it is important to hire a skilled OWI attorney that can help get your charges reduced or even dropped the very first time you are arrested. The degrees of OWI penalties in Wisconsin are as follows:

  • First time OWI offenders may face fines of $150 to $300. If convicted, your license may be suspended for 6 to 9 months.

  • Second time OWI offenders may face fines of $300 to $1100. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, you may also be ordered to spend between 5 days to 6 months in jail. Second time offenders will also have their license suspended for 12 to 18 months.

  • Third time OWI offenders may face up to $2000 in fines and spend up to 12 months in jail.

Penalties are higher for Aggravated OWI charges, which are pursued by the prosecution on the basis of:

  • BAC was 0.15 or higher at the time of your arrest

  • BAC was over the legal limit and you caused injury or death

  • Multiple previous OWI convictions

  • A minor was a passenger in the vehicle while BAC was above the legal limit

OWI offenses will also stay on your driving record, which will cause your insurance rates to increase. You may also be ordered to complete community service hours and/or take Drunk Driving or Alcohol Awareness classes at the judge’s discretion in addition to criminal penalties such as jail time and fines.

Accused of an OWI or DUI in Wisconsin? An experienced OWI Attorney will protect your rights and fight to see that your charges are reduced or even dropped.

Although certain cities in Wisconsin have decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana, it is still not legal to drive under the influence of the drug anywhere in the state. If you are caught doing so, you could face severe penalties such as fines, license suspension, and even jail time.

The Effects of Marijuana

Driving while under the influence of any substance is dangerous, especially marijuana. It can impair a person’s coordination, distort perception, impair judgment, slow reaction time, and reduce the ability to make sound decisions. These side effects while driving could be life-threatening for you, a passenger, another driver, or even pedestrians.

The Penalties

If you are caught driving under the influence of marijuana, a police officer will take you through a series of tests and questions. Then, if the officer deems it necessary, they may request that you submit to a chemical test. If the chemical test states that you have marijuana in your system, you could face up to a $1000 fine, license revocation, or even jail time.

If you are under investigation for driving under the influence of marijuana, you should speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Lawyer Jeffrey Kippa and his team have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients against drug crime charges in Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Appleton, Wisconsin. Contact J. Kippa Law, LLC today at 920-383-3423 to schedule your free consultation, discuss your unique situation, and address your concerns.

The best way to obtain the desired outcome for your case is by hiring an attorney who will fight relentlessly for you. A Super Lawyer is your best option.

What Is a Super Lawyer?

The process for selecting Super Lawyers is complex; it is done by “a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The patented selection process includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations.” Hiring a Wisconsin Super Lawyer to defend your case could help you achieve the outcome you are longing for.

Our Very Own Super Lawyer

Our firm is home to the Super Lawyer Jeffrey Kippa. Jeffrey is a decorated and compassionate criminal law attorney who boasts many accomplishments. Kippa states, “Simply put, I try to put myself in my client’s shoes, to understand their fears, frustrations, and concerns.” He has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers in years past and continues to astound the legal community each year.

Contact Super Lawyer Jeffrey Kippa for the defense you deserve.

Wisconsin’s opioid epidemic has been raging for over 20 years. It first began when doctors started to overprescribe pain relievers. When these drugs became hard to obtain, heroin use skyrocketed. Today, illegally manufactured fentanyl is mixed with heroin, opioids, and other illegal drugs. This is the reason opioid deaths continue at all-time highs in Wisconsin.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a drug that alleviates body pain and can produce a pleasurable effect on the brain. People can use them in correct, beneficial, and illegal ways. Opioids may be prescribed by a healthcare professional as a pain treatment following surgery, for painful emotions, or trauma. The types of opioids are:

  • Prescription pain relievers: Prescription opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and methadone. These medications serve as pain relievers by changing how your body feels and responds to pain.
    • Pharmaceutical: This is prescribed by healthcare professionals to treat severe pain. It can come in a lozenge, pill, nasal/sublingual spray, transdermal patch, or injection.
    • Illegal: This type of fentanyl is sold solely for its ability to produce a good feeling. It is often mixed into other drugs to make it look like prescription medicine.
  • Heroin: This is an illegal opioid. It is most commonly used for a short-term rush of pleasurable feelings. There is no medical use for this drug. It is strictly prohibited.

If you or a loved one faces charges such as possession of illegally obtained prescription drugs or heroin possession, the consequences can be severe. It is crucial to work with an experienced local attorney who can provide you with the aggressive defense you need during a difficult time.

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