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Bucher Law Group, LLC

Waukesha County OWI lawyerEven if you have never had it happen to you, you probably have a pretty good idea about what it might feel like to be pulled over after having a few drinks. You see the flashing lights in your mirror, and your stomach drops. By the time the officer gets to your window, the nerves have probably started, but you want everything to go smoothly so you can get home without incident.

As you expect, the officer asks whether you have been drinking. You acknowledge that you did have a couple earlier in the night. Then, the officer asks you to take a breath test. Do you have the right to refuse?

What the Law Says

Under the law in Wisconsin, you give your “implied consent” to chemical testing for blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) by driving your vehicle on the highways and streets of the state. Specifically, you consent to such testing when requested by the officer in certain situations or when required by law.

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Racine County OWI Defense AttorneyMost drivers understand that driving under the influence of alcohol or even recreational drugs can lead to Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) charges. However, there is less clarity when it comes to prescription drugs. Although many types of prescription drugs, including opioids, come with warnings against driving or operating heavy machinery after use, driving while under the influence of these drugs which can impair your ability to safely drive continues to occur. Given the serious charges which can result from an OWI conviction, it is essential to work with an experienced OWI defense attorney.

Field Sobriety Tests for Drugs

Wisconsin law prohibits operating a motor vehicle when under the influence of any controlled substance that renders a person unable to drive safely. For alcohol, this means having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over .08 percent. The officer who stopped you can perform a breathalyzer test after you have been pulled over. With substances including marijuana, other drugs, and prescription medications, there is no equivalent field test. If the use of a substance other than alcohol is suspected, an additional officer may be called in. Some Wisconsin police officers are trained as drug recognition experts (DRE). The trained DRE will administer a series of tests to assess the subject. These tests include checking the subject’s pulse, examining their eye movements, performing tests to assess the subject’s level of attention, and testing vital signs, and other assessments.

If the DRE officer concludes that you may be under the influence of drugs, you will be arrested. Additional blood testing will be performed at the police station to substantiate the DRE’s conclusions. The DRE will also write a report of their interaction which can also be used as evidence. A combination of drug and alcohol use can also result in OWI charges, even if your BAC is below the legal limit.

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Walworth OWI Defense AttorneyFor drivers who have been stopped under suspicion of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), whether or not to take the breathalyzer test on the spot can be a difficult and confusing decision. Once a police officer pulls you over, they may already have a suspicion that you have been drinking alcohol or are under the influence of drugs. From the time they approach your vehicle, they will be looking for signs of intoxication, including the smell of alcohol on your breath, the clarity of your speech, your balance, and the appearance and motion of your eyes. You should learn what you should and should not do in this situation and know that it is always essential to call an OWI defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Field Tests Versus Tests at the Police Station

While Wisconsin is an implied consent state, meaning you have given consent to chemical testing when you obtained your driver’s license, that only applies after an arrest. You do not have to submit to any physical field sobriety tests or take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). You are not required to answer any of the officer’s questions but must produce your license when it is requested and exit your vehicle if instructed to do so. If you do choose to speak with the officer, you must tell the truth.

Based on their field observations, the officer may choose to arrest you based on probable cause, including any erratic driving before being pulled over, the smell of alcohol on you or in the vehicle, or open containers of alcohol observed in the vehicle. Refusal to submit to field sobriety tests may also give the officer probable cause to arrest you.

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Dodge County Criminal Defense LawyerWhether you are taking a cross country road trip, a weekend getaway, or just on your regular commute to work, the roads during the summer season present the risk of accidents and the resulting injuries. Car accidents, speeding and reckless driving, and operating while intoxicated all carry the risk of criminal charges. By taking steps to drive safely, you and your family can enjoy the drive and have a fun summer.

Avoid Traffic Violations in Wisconsin

By driving safely, planning ahead, and maintaining your vehicle, you can help to prevent potentially dangerous situations. Here are some tips to staying safe on the roads.

Drive safely – It is good advice throughout the years to slow down, obey the speed limit and traffic signals, and watch out for other drivers on the road. Limit the distraction in the car while you are driving so you can concentrate on the road and the vehicles around you. Construction zones are more common during the summer too, and they can present dangers such as narrow lanes, reduced speeds, construction workers, and slow-moving construction vehicles. Failure to follow the rules of the road can lead to speeding and reckless driving charges, and in more serious cases felony use of a motor vehicle or even homicide charges involving the use of a motor vehicle.

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WI DUI lawyerWisconsin has what are called implied consent laws. By getting a driver’s license in our state, you implicitly agree to cooperate with chemical testing following a DUI test. This rule does not apply to field sobriety testing, however. Drivers are free to refuse to perform field sobriety testing, however, doing so may not protect you from getting arrested for DUI anyway. It is important to understand how refusing field sobriety testing and refusing chemical testing could impact your case and your driver’s license. If you were arrested on suspicion of DUI, it is important to find an experienced attorney who handles this type of case.

What Happens if I Refuse to Perform Field Sobriety Tests?

You should know that you are not legally obligated to perform field sobriety tests. In some cases, refusing field sobriety testing can actually help your case. Field sobriety tests are essentially an effort by police to gather evidence against you. By performing the tests, you could inadvertently incriminate yourself should you appear intoxicated during them.

However, you should be aware that you could still get arrested on suspicion of DUI. The police officers could use other types of evidence to establish probable cause to take you into custody. Things like the smell of alcohol on your breath, slurred speech, or bad driving could give the police probable cause. However, without field sobriety tests suggesting intoxication, the state will have less evidence to go on.

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