If you have been arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) in Wisconsin, it is important to understand the state’s implied consent law and how it can impact your case. Under this law, drivers are required to submit to chemical testing if they are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and they may face consequences if they refuse to do so. For anyone who has been arrested for drunk driving, it is crucial to secure legal representation from an attorney who can help defend against OWI charges and address license suspensions or other penalties related to chemical blood alcohol tests.
What Is Implied Consent?
Implied consent refers to the legal principle that drivers automatically give their consent to submit to chemical testing from a police officer, if suspected of drunk driving, by obtaining a driver’s license and operating a motor vehicle on public roads. In other words, when you get behind the wheel in Wisconsin, you implicitly agree to comply with requests from law enforcement officers for blood, breath, or urine testing.
The purpose of implied consent laws is twofold. First, they aim to deter drunk driving by creating a legal obligation for drivers to cooperate with chemical testing. Second, they provide authorities with evidence necessary for prosecuting OWI offenses. However, it is important to understand that implied consent laws apply to tests administered to analyze breath, blood, and urine samples performed after you are arrested. Therefore, you are not required to take a roadside breathalyzer test or perform field sobriety tests during a traffic stop, but you will be required to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test after an officer has arrested you and taken you to a police station.
Consequences of Refusing Chemical Testing
If you refuse chemical testing after being arrested for OWI in Wisconsin, there are immediate consequences. The arresting officer will typically inform you about these consequences before requesting your cooperation, and they will include:
Your driver’s license will be revoked. For a first offense, a revocation will last for one year. A refusal after a previous OWI conviction, suspension, or revocation within the last 10 years will result in a two-year revocation. A third offense will result in a three-year revocation.
You may face additional penalties if you are convicted of an OWI offense.
Your refusal can be used against you as evidence in court.
After a chemical test refusal, you will be served with a notice of intent to revoke your driver’s license, and you will have 10 days to request a hearing to contest the revocation. If you do not request a hearing, the revocation will go into effect 30 days after the date you refused chemical testing.
After the revocation begins, you may be able to receive an occupational license that will allow you to drive for a limited number of hours and for specific purposes, such as going to work, running errands, or fulfilling certain obligations for homemaking. You may also be required to use an ignition interlock device when driving using an occupational license.
You will be eligible for an occupational license 30 days after a first refusal. After a second refusal, you will need to wait 90 days, and after a third refusal, you will need to wait 120 days. If you have had two or more OWI convictions, suspensions, or revocations within the last five years, you will be ineligible for an occupational license for one year.
Challenging Implied Consent Violations
While Wisconsin’s implied consent law creates a legal obligation to submit to chemical testing, it is not without its limitations. There may be circumstances in which the validity of the implied consent violation can be challenged, including situations such as:
The arresting officer did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
There was no lawful arrest made prior to requesting chemical testing.
The officer failed to inform you about the consequences of refusing testing.
Your refusal was due to a medical condition or language barrier that prevented you from understanding the request.
In these situations, an experienced OWI defense attorney can help build a strong case by challenging the legality of the implied consent violation.