355 Austin Circle, Suite 110, Delafield, WI 53018
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Bucher Law Group, LLC

Milwaukee County OWI defense attorney

It is generally known that if an individual has a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, he or she is legally intoxicated. Throughout the United States, a .08 BAC is designated as the legal threshold for drunk driving, although each state may enforce its own laws to prohibit driving under the influence. In Wisconsin, a motorist may be arrested for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) regardless of his or her BAC. If you or a loved one has been arrested for an OWI charge, it is important to immediately seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney regardless of your circumstances.   

Determining if a Driver Is Impaired 

Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in Wisconsin for drivers of any age. To be considered “under the influence,” a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle must be impaired. In order to reach this conclusion, a police officer may ask you to participate in field sobriety tests if he or she suspects you are intoxicated. Although these tests may be politely declined, not participating may give an officer probable cause to arrest you. This means that if an officer stops you, and he or she believes that you are impaired by alcohol or drugs, you can be arrested and prosecuted for OWI, even without your BAC even being tested.

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Milwaukee County drunk driving defense lawyer

When you are stopped by a police officer it is because he or she believes that you have been driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it can be a daunting experience. If the officer already suspects that you are intoxicated before you are even pulled over, the entire interaction will be to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to place you under arrest for OWI. Once the officer approaches you, he or she will be using his or her senses to determine whether or not you are impaired. The officer will be looking for bloodshot eyes, unsteady hand movements, slurred speech, unusual statements, and the smell of alcohol or other drugs. He or she will likely ask you to step out of the vehicle to complete field sobriety testing, which will be used to establish probable cause for an arrest. But how accurate are those tests, and can the results be challenged?

What Is a Field Sobriety Test?

Field sobriety tests are conducted during a traffic stop to determine whether or not a person who is driving is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. There are many different types of field sobriety tests, but there are only three different standardized field sobriety tests. These include:

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Milwaukee County criminal defense attorney

Everyone knows that it is against the law to drive while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Wisconsin not only puts you at risk of being arrested for OWI, but it also puts everyone else on the road in danger. Statistics show that driving while impaired is not only dangerous but deadly. According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were nearly 11,000 deaths due to drunk driving in 2017, accounting for almost 30 percent of all traffic deaths. If you are ever stopped for the criminal offense of OWI, it is important to know the process in order to make sure your rights are protected.

What Are the Steps in an OWI Stop?

Police officers are trained to spot impaired driving and will usually have a pretty good idea if a person is driving under the influence or not. Being pulled over by the police is nerve-wracking for anyone, but getting stopped by police because they suspect you of drunk driving can be even more anxiety-inducing. Here are a few things to expect if you are pulled over for suspicion of OWI:

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Milwaukee County drunk driving defense attorney

Compared to other states in the country, Wisconsin’s drunk driving or operating while intoxicated (OWI) laws are somewhat lenient. In Wisconsin, a first-time OWI offense is not subject to jail time; instead, it can result in a driver’s license suspension and a fine. Technically, a first-time OWI conviction is not a criminal offense; rather, it is a moving violation that carries a fine. Nevertheless, being charged with driving while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious situation that can carry stiff penalties, especially if someone commits multiple offenses. Although Wisconsin OWI laws are less strict than many other states’ laws, you can still be charged with a felony OWI, depending on the circumstances.

Felony OWI Charges

In Wisconsin, an OWI charge does not become a felony until you commit your fourth offense. Prior to a fourth-offense OWI charge, you may still face jail time, including up to one year for a third OWI offense. Here are the ways you can be charged with a felony OWI in Wisconsin:

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Milwaukee County drunk driving defense attorney

In recent years, the number of teenagers and underage young adults who drink and drive has decreased. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the total number of high school students who drink and drive has fallen by more than half since 1991. Though this number has gone down, in 2017, more than 16% of high school students reported that they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. Underage drinking and driving is a serious issue, because teens are already three times more likely to get into a fatal accident than adults--and alcohol only exacerbates that statistic. In many states, underage drinking and driving penalties have become more strict, including in the state of Wisconsin, where it is referred to as operating while intoxicated (OWI).

Absolute Sobriety Law

Most states have a law stating that those who are under the age of 21 are not permitted to drive if they have alcohol in their systems. In Wisconsin, drivers who are under 21 years old are not permitted to have a BAC of more than 0.00 if they are operating a motor vehicle. This is called Wisconsin’s Absolute Sobriety or “Not a Drop” law. A violation of this law will result in a $200 fine, four demerit points on an individual’s driver’s license, and a three-month driver’s license suspension.

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