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What are the drunk driving laws in Wisconsin?

Being pulled over by the police is often unexpected and, in most cases, motorists become nervous. Regardless of the traffic offense, drivers do not want to face the potential penalties of the citation. However, in some cases, these consequences could be serious, such as in cases of a suspected drunk driving.

What are the drunk driving laws in Wisconsin? In Wisconsin, drivers are considered to be over the legal limit if their blood alcohol concentration, or "BAC," is 0.08 or greater. These measurements are determined by either a breath test during a sobriety test, a breath test subsequent to an arrest or a blood test following an arrest.

However, this BAC reading is only relevant if the motorist is 21-years-old or older. Drivers under the age of 21, are required to maintain absolute sobriety. Operating a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system is illegal and could result in charges and serious penalties. If a motorist has three or more prior OWI convictions, the BAC limit is lower for them. In these cases, the driver cannot operate a motor vehicle if the BAC is greater than 0.02.

When authorities suspect that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, the police officer will make a traffic stop. First, this stop must be a legal stop. If it isn't, a driver could challenge the stop. Next, officers must witness or collect evidence that causes them to suspect that the driver might be under the influence of alcohol. This would give them reason to conduct a field sobriety test. Based on the finding of the sobriety tests, this could give rise to having the motorist submit to a breath test.

Motorists should note that police officers have a strict protocol to follow and these procedures must be followed. If this does not occur, a driver could challenge the OWI charge. There are defense options available, and initiating a defense after an OWI charge could help a driver avoid penalties and even license suspension.

Source: Wisconsindot.gov, "Drunk driving law," accessed April 30, 2017

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