Tag: DUI

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.

Your attorney's experience can make all the difference when your future is on the line. Learn how attorney Jeffrey Kippa can help you move forward.

Call 920-733-1100