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Drunk Driving Laws - News Events
Attorney Tracey A. Wood brought an appeal for a prior conviction for refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test to determine whether a driver was drunk. Her client, represented by another attorney, was found guilty in a Dane County Court. On appeal, Attorney Wood argued that the police stop, search and seizure of her appellant client were illegal, and therefore, the arrest and all evidence should be suppressed. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the conviction.
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Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws


A drunk driving charge under Wisconsin drunk driving laws is called an OWI, which stands for operating while under the influence, or OMVWI for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. An OWI charge (or OMVWI charge) is the same as a DUI charge - it alleges that the driver of a motorized vehicle was under the influence while driving. The influencing agent can be any intoxicant including alcohol, illegal drugs such as cocaine or marijuana, or legal over-the-counter drugs that impair driving.

Potential drunk driving Charges, Sentences & Fines

Wisconsin drunk driving laws are tough. People accused of drunk driving can receive two tickets for the drunk driving offense. The first ticket is for driving under the influence (the OWI ticket), and the second ticket is for having a prohibited alcohol concentration (the PAC ticket). Actual drunk driving charges depend on several factors, such as if the person had been convicted of a drunk driving offense previously in this or any other state, if the person had refused to submit to a sobriety test (convictions for refusing a test count as a prior OWI conviction), and whether or not a child was in the vehicle at the time that the alleged offense was committed. Drunk driving penalties in Wisconsin increase as the number of convictions (for drunk driving or refusals) increase.

Wisconsin's Foremost Authority on Drunk Driving Laws

Wisconsin's first ever lawyer to be appointed to the Board of Regents for the National College of DUI Defense, Attorney Tracey A. Wood is president of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, past president of the Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, author of Challenging Prior Under the Influence Convictions, and contributing author to DUI Defense.

Attorney Tracey A. Wood frequently represents people who have been charged with a drunk driving offense including operating while under the influence, refusing to submit to a sobriety test, operating a motorized vehicle after revocation, operating a motorized vehicle during driver's license suspension, and vehicular homicide or injury by use of a motorized vehicle.

Legal Limits

The legal limit of alcohol in a person's bloodstream is directly related to their age, the number of prior convictions (or test refusals), and their occupation.

Minors are prohibited from driving with any trace of alcohol in their system. For more information about underage drinking and driving, please refer to zero tolerance.

A person who has never been convicted of driving while under the influence is prohibited from driving with a .08 BAC (blood alcohol content level).

A person who has previously been convicted of drunk driving (or refusing to submit to an alcohol test to determine whether or not they are considered to be drunk) is prohibited from driving with a .02 BAC (blood alcohol level).

Refusals count as prior convictions.

Determining Drunkenness

Whether or not a person is drunk is a major factor in determining which charge will be brought against them by the prosecuting attorney, and an even greater factor in determining whether or not they can be convicted of the offense. To determine if a person is "over the legal limits" and therefore drunk, police will often request that the person submit to a sobriety test under Wisconsin's implied content laws. The test may consist only of standardized field sobriety tests (often called field tests), or it may also involve chemical tests. One of the tests used by police requires a blood draw in order to conduct a blood test and measure the percentage of alcohol in the person's bloodstream. A blood alcohol chart can show the possible effects of drinks in a person's system based on the number of drinks consumed and the person's body weight.

Free Initial Consultation

If you have been arrested for drunk driving, please call ( locally in Madison, Wisconsin, or nationally), or submit your information for a brief, but professional "first-impression" analysis of your case.

[Click here to request a free initial consultation]

If you need us, we'll be there.

Van Wagner & Wood, Successful Criminal & DUI Defense