We are Hudson, River Falls and New Richmond Wisconsin drunk driving attorneys.
We have defended DUIs (DWI/OWI) across the entire state of Wisconsin for over a decade. We know what police officers must do from the moment they first see your vehicle until you are released from jail. If you feel your rights have been violated, we will fight for you.
Being arrested for Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated/drunk driving can be a very scary and stressful event. The legal process can also be very stressful if you feel your rights have been violated or if you feel you are not guilty of the offense. You have important legal rights prior to, during and after you are arrested. It is important that you talk to an attorney about your arrest and what will happen throughout your case. Being arrested and charged with drunk driving does not necessarily mean you are guilty.
Drunk driving laws are getting stricter each year. From allowing police to draw your blood without a warrant to making fourth offense drunk driving offenses felonies, lawmakers are doing everything they can to curtail drunk driving. While drunk driving is serious and they are very difficult to defend, your rights must be protected from the moment you are pulled over by the police.
WISCONSIN OWI/DRUNK DRIVING OFFENSES
You have been charged with drunk driving (Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated and/or Operating a Motor Vehicle with Prohibited Alcohol Concentration) in Wisconsin; now what happens?
You may be asking:
5. What happens if I took a blood test when I was arrested for drunk driving?
6. What if I refused to take a breathalyzer test? What if I refused to take a blood test?
7. How much will an attorney cost for drunk driving?
8. What if I have received more than one charge?
9. What happens in court?
10. What if the police didn’t read me my Miranda rights?
11. What happens if I have a Minnesota driver’s license and have been arrested for drunk driving in Wisconsin?
12. Are there any defenses to drunk driving?
13. What is the difference between DWI or DUI and OWI?
14. What is an ignition interlock device?
The potential penalties you could receive for drunk driving (OWI or PAC) offenses can change frequently based on legislative action. Currently, for a first offense OWI in Wisconsin, a person cannot go to jail because a first offense is not a criminal offense.* Second and third offense OWIs are misdemeanors. Fourth offenses may be considered felonies. Fifth and subsequent offenses are felonies.
First offense OWI/PAC penalties include:
Driver’s license revocation for six to twelve months;*
Fine/forfeiture of $600 to over $1,000;*
Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (if blood alcohol concentration is .15 or higher);
Driver’s Safety Plan; and
Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Assessment (AODA Assessment).
* Note: If a minor, under the age of sixteen, is present in the vehicle at the time you are arrested, the penalties can be doubled and you can be sentenced to jail, even on a first offense.
Second or subsequent OWI/PAC penalties include:
Driver’s license revocation for one to three years;
Fines of $1,000 to over $3,000;
Mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device;
Jail time of ten days to many months or even prison;
Driver’s Safety Plan; and
Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Assessment (AODA Assessment).
In most cases, your license will be suspended 30 days after you are arrested. You will lose your license for a minimum of six (6) months if you are convicted of drunk driving. You will lose your license approximately 30 days after being arrested for drunk driving, but you may also have a longer license revocation if you are actually convicted of drunk driving.
You most likely took a breath test on the side of the road after you were pulled over. This is called a Portable Breath Test or “PBT.” You most likely took another test either at the hospital or at the police station.
If you took a breath test at the police station, you most likely had to blow into the breathalyzer twice. The lower of the two results will be used to determine your blood alcohol concentration.
If you took a blood test at a hospital after being arrested, your blood was sent to be tested by the Wisconsin Hygiene Lab. If the lab results show that your blood alcohol concentration was over .08, the police department will issue you a citation for Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration.
A refusal is a citation alleging that you improperly refused to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine. You are subject to increased penalties if you refuse to submit to a chemical test.
If you are cited for Refusal to Submit to a test, you must request a hearing with the court within ten days of receiving that citation. If you do not request a hearing, you will be automatically found guilty of that Refusal.
After you have been arrested, it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible; within 10 days of your arrest to protect your license. During your first meeting with your attorney, you will discuss the specifics of your case, what happened leading up to and during your arrest, what must be done to meet the time limits in your case, and go over any questions you may have. We will also discuss potential defenses.
You will undoubtedly ask, “How much will an attorney cost?” I handle drunk driving offenses on a flat fee basis. The amount of the fee will depend on whether this is a first or subsequent offense and the specific facts of your case. We will discuss all potential costs associated with your case at the first meeting.
You have been arrested for drunk driving, specifically in Wisconsin called Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) and/or Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC). While you may have been charged or cited with two separate offenses (OWI and PAC), you cannot receive duplicate penalties.
You may have also received additional traffic citations or criminal charges in connection with your arrest. All of your citations/charges will be taken care of together in one court case.
An initial court appearance date is listed on your citation. This hearing starts your case in court. If you wish to contest the charge or negotiate with the prosecutor regarding your charges, you must plead not guilty at that court date.
Pretrial and/or Status Conferences
You may have multiple Status Conferences and Pretrial Conferences throughout your case to keep the court informed of the status of your case.
A motion hearing may be held to litigate any legal issues in your case. Motions are filed to request information from the prosecution or to challenge the legality of the police officers’ or prosecutor’s actions against you. The motions may request that evidence be suppressed or charges be dismissed based on a violation of your constitutional rights.
If you do not reach an agreement with the prosecutor and the judge does not dismiss your case at a motion hearing, your case will proceed to a trial. Most trials for drunk driving cases are jury trials.
The sentencing hearing will be where the judge imposes your penalties. At the sentencing hearing, the judge will consider your position (as presented by your attorney) and the State’s/Prosecutor’s position for your sentence.
If you are not satisfied with the jury’s or judge’s verdict at trial, a judge’s decision at a motion hearing or the legality of your sentence, you can appeal your case to the Court of Appeals within a specified time limit.
Miranda warnings are not required simply because you are arrested. Miranda warnings are required when a police officer subjects an individual to a custodial interrogation. Miranda warnings generally only protect statements you give to the police and any evidence the police get as the result of those statements. You and I will discuss whether Miranda warnings were given and if not, whether that has any effect on the statements or evidence in your case.
Wisconsin will apply penalties regardless of what state issued your license. However, you may have additional penalties based on your home state laws on drunk driving offenses. I deal with individuals who have Minnesota and all other state’s driver’s licenses that have been charged with drunk driving in Wisconsin routinely. I also have affiliations with attorneys throughout the country, and work with attorneys outside of Wisconsin to resolve all aspects of a case.
Depending on the facts of your case, there are many possible defenses to drunk driving. Possible defenses to your case might include the reason you were pulled over; whether the officer had probable cause to arrest you; challenging the chemical tests of your blood or breath. Various defenses will be explored and litigated at motion hearings with the prosecutor in front of a judge prior to trial, or at trial in front of the judge and jury.
DUI, DWI and OWI are a difference in name only. In Wisconsin you receive an Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated, for short, OWI. (In Wisconsin, you will many times also receive a charge for Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration or Blood Alcohol Content, for short PAC or BAC). In other states, such as Minnesota, you may receive a DWI or DUI (Driving While Impaired, Driving While Intoxicated or Driving Under the Influence).
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breathalyzer in your car that must be installed for all second and subsequent drunk driving offenses and for first offenses if your blood alcohol level was over .15 or you refused to submit to a chemical test.