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Getting charged with boating under the influence is not that different from getting charged with driving under the influence. Perhaps the main distinction, however, is that people who drive boats tend to be more at risk of such allegations -- that's because lots of Wisconsin residents like to bring alcoholic beverages with them when they head out onto our state's rivers and lakes.

Just like driving under the influence, a boating under the influence charge will trigger when the boat operator has an blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. However, unlike drivers, boaters don't have the right to refuse a blood alcohol content test. Simply by the act of operating a watercraft or boat, operators are seen to have pre-consented to sobriety tests. In fact, it is a legal violation for a boater to refuse such a test when an officer requests it. Boaters must also stop when asked to do so by an officer of the law or by a patrol boat.

It is not uncommon for a boater who is operating under the influence to also get hit with charges related to underage drinking, having an open intoxicant and engaging in public drunkenness. If convicted of the charges, boaters can expect to incur fines, impoundment of property and even jail time.

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Boating under the influence charges happen frequently in Wisconsin's waterways. In fact, some Wisconsin boaters may have been arrested and charged with BUI even though they are innocent. This is partly because the very nature of being on a boat with friends can result in an inappropriate arrest.

Unlike a car, boat drivers can switch off with passengers very easily. One minute you might be driving the boat, and the next minute your friend is driving the boat. Because it's easy for boat passengers to move around and switch positions with the driver, police might be confused about who was actually driving the boat.

Let's say your good friend was driving your boat, and he was a responsible boater, a great boat driver and also stone-cold sober. You, on the other hand, were not entirely sober because you just finished drinking four beers over the last couple hours. Because you are technically the owner of the boat, however, police got confused and mistakenly fell under the impression that you were operating your boat while intoxicated.

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At Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP, we know that nobody wants to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle. These devices require you to blow into them, and if you have the smallest amount of alcohol on your breath, the device will render your car undrivable. You will also have to intermittently blow into the device while operating your vehicle.

Like it or not, if you've been convicted of drunk driving, you IID device could become a faithful companion for many months. You need to make sure you understand all the rules that apply to your IID to avoid getting into further trouble. You'll also want to know how it works so that you don't make a mistake that results in a legal violation.

How your IID is helping you

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A DUI charge can happen to any Wisconsin resident who takes the risk of driving after drinking alcohol. However, in some cases, a Wisconsin driver will find him or herself facing drunk driving charges again and again. Drivers need to be very careful after being charged with multiple DUI offenses because the punishments will get more severe with each consecutive conviction.

In one such case, a Milwaukee man with seven drunk driving convictions on his criminal record has been arrested and accused of drunk driving for the 8th time. Police arrested the man after his van collided with a trailer, according to the sheriff's office.

The collision happened a little before 6 p.m. last Tuesday on Interstate 43. The man was driving northbound on the highway when he allegedly collided with the trailer. Police say that the man admitted to drinking a martini and taking Adderal before getting into the crash. When authorities tested his blood alcohol content, he allegedly tested with a BAC of 0.18 percent, which is more than double the legal limit.

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In Wisconsin's Waukesha County, a drunk driving charge is formally referred to as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). There are various ways to be charged with an OWI offense, including driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher; driving under the influence of an illegal drug or other controlled substance; driving with a noticeable measure of restricted or controlled substance in the blood; or driving under the influence of any intoxicant such as alcohol, prescription or over the counter medication, or an illegal or controlled drug.

When pulled over by the police, most people's first inclination is to volunteer information. Although it is generally not wise to refuse to speak with an officer asking routine questions, it would be wise to avoid embellishing or providing extra information. This is because the probability of incriminating yourself or providing more facts that support your guilt increases the more you speak. Rather, you should be polite, calm, and cooperative with the police.

Possessing a driver's license in the state of Wisconsin implies consent to providing a chemical sample via breathalyzer. Refusing to consent to this will expose you to a number of unpleasant consequences such as having your license suspended for up to one year. However, you can challenge whether or not an officer had probable cause for such a stop through an administrative hearing from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. You can also challenge an OWI charge by using the Fourth Amendment, which provides the American people many essential guarantees of privacy. Penalties of a drunk driving conviction can be quite severe, especially for offenders with multiple charges.

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