OWI / DUI / Drunk Driving

OWI / DUI / Drunk Driving in Wisconsin

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), also referred to as Driving Under the Influence (DUI), is a crime in Wisconsin that can lead to serious consequences. Suspension and/or revocation of driving privileges, extremely high fines, jail, and prison time can be the result of a conviction and can affect your life going forward.

Wisconsin laws, regulated under section 346.63 of the Wisconsin Statutes, make it illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription or over-the-counter medications, to the degree that the driver is incapable of driving safely.

With regard to drugs, it is illegal to drive with a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in the driver’s blood or any detectable amount of Delta-9-THC, the active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana). Examples of restricted controlled substances include: cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription pain killers, Benzodiazepines, etc.

If a driver has a controlled substance in their body and no valid prescription, they will be considered guilty of OWI, regardless of whether or not they are impaired by the drug.

Experienced DUI attorneys in Wisconsin

Murphy Desmond’s OWI attorneys understand the impact of an OWI conviction on your life and the lives of your loved ones. Our attorneys are recognized as leaders in criminal defense by Wisconsin Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America, Lawyers.com, Avvo, Justia, and other lawyer ranking organizations.

We are experienced in helping defend the rights of:

  • individuals facing first or multiple OWI charges;
  • commercial drivers charged with DUI;
  • drivers under the age of 21 charged with DUI, and;
  • drivers charged with OWI resulting in serious injury or death.

We understand that good people make mistakes and bad choices, and we will help protect your legal rights. We also understand OWI investigations can be flawed. We will analyze the evidence of your case and contest your case in court, to ensure your rights are protected.

Understanding OWI charges in Wisconsin

If picked up for OWI, it’s important to know that Wisconsin police do not need to know what a person’s breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is in order to charge a driver with DUI.

Rather, police may pull a driver over if the driver displays signs that they are impaired to a degree that the driver cannot safely operate the vehicle. Police rely on their training, professional and personal experiences, as well as standardized Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) to determine if a driver is under the influence. Thus, if an officer forms an opinion that a driver has displayed enough clues of impairment, the officer may charge a driver with OWI under Wisconsin Statute 346.63(1)(a).

Specifically related to alcohol, drivers can be charged with OWI related in two ways:

  • 346.63(1)(a) – Driving while under the influence of alcohol to the degree that the driver cannot safely control their vehicle; and/or;
  • 346.63(1)(b) – Driving with a prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC), also known as a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of:
  • .08 or more for drivers 21 years of age or older;
  • .04 for commercial vehicle drivers;
  • .00 “Absolute Sobriety” for drivers under the age of 21; or
  • .02 for drivers with three or more prior OWI convictions.

OWI and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Laws in Wisconsin

If you are a driver with a commercial driver’s license, you should know that Wisconsin has two important laws governing operating commercial vehicles and intoxicants:

  1. Wisconsin Statute 343.63(5) indicates that “no person may drive or operate a commercial vehicle while the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more but less than 0.08.”
  2. However, Wisconsin Statute 346.65(2u) makes it illegal to operate a commercial vehicle with any alcohol concentration.

An experienced DUI attorney can help you understand the laws and your rights as it relates to your commercial driver’s license.

Murphy Desmond’s OWI attorneys can help

Understanding allegations of drunk driving or DUI in Wisconsin can be challenging. Consequences can be affected by the number of prior offenses, age of person charged, and experience of DUI lawyers -- among other factors.

Contact the OWI lawyers at Murphy Desmond to assist you by calling (608) 257-7181 or emailing email@murphydesmond.com. We have offices in Madison, Janesville, Dodgeville and Appleton.