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What Happens If I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Wisconsin?

 Posted on August 18, 2022 in DUI/OWI

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.

By law, a law enforcement officer may request a breath, blood, or urine test if he or she detects the presence of alcohol or drugs—including by smelling alcohol—or if the officer has reason to believe that you are impaired. BAC testing is statutorily required if you were involved in an accident that caused substantial bodily harm or death and the officer has reason to believe that you either broke a traffic law or were impaired.

Requested vs. Required

If the officer requests BAC testing and you refuse, you will face administrative penalties in addition to any criminal penalties that could come as a result of your arrest and prosecution. Specifically, your driver’s license will be revoked for one year, and you must have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle for one year. Penalties increase if you have an OWI conviction on your record or if you have refused testing in the past.

In the event of an accident that leads to a required BAC test, you can be arrested for OWI as a result of your refusal to submit to testing. If you are unconscious following such an accident, testing may occur anyway. 

Roadside Testing

There is an important caveat in Wisconsin implied consent laws: They only apply to tests performed at the police station or another facility approved by the state. Portable breathalyzers for roadside use are not included. This means that if the officer asks you to take a breath test during a traffic stop, you can refuse with no formal penalties. Of course, your refusal will likely lead to the officer looking more intensely for reasons to either arrest you for OWI or to request testing at the station.

Call a Waukesha OWI Defense Lawyer for Help

If you are facing penalties related to refusing a BAC test, it is important to speak with an experienced Waukesha County drunk driving defense attorney at Bucher Law Group, LLC as soon as possible. Call 262-303-4916 to schedule your free consultation today.



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