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When Can Drug Use Lead to OWI Charges in Wisconsin?

Posted on in Criminal Law

Pewaukee Drugged Driving Defense LawyerOperating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance is a serious offense in Wisconsin. In many cases, arrests for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) occur because a person is suspected of drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel. However, OWI charges may also apply if a person is accused of driving while under the influence of controlled substances or other drugs. If you have been arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, it is important to understand the laws that apply to your case, the potential consequences you may face, and the steps you can take to protect your rights.

Wisconsin Law on Drug-Related OWI Charges

In Wisconsin, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant. In addition to alcohol, intoxicants may include controlled substances such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, or prescription drugs such as opioids. A combination of multiple substances may also cause a person to become intoxicated. For example, a person may drink a small amount of alcohol that would not normally cause them to be intoxicated, but if they have also used prescription drugs, over-the-counter cold and flu medicines, or marijuana, the combination of these substances may cause a higher level of impairment than they would experience when using the individual substances on their own.

The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent, which means that a person can usually have one or two drinks before they are considered to be intoxicated. However, any amount of a restricted controlled substance in a person's system can result in an OWI charge.

Implied Consent Laws

Under Wisconsin law, drivers are required to submit to chemical tests for drug or alcohol use if they are arrested on suspicion of drunk or drugged driving. After an arrest, a person will usually be taken to a police station and asked to take a blood, breath, or urine test to detect the presence of alcohol or drugs in their system. Refusing these tests will result in a one-year revocation of a person's driver's license.

However, it is important to understand that before an arrest can be performed, a police officer must have probable cause to believe that a person was driving while intoxicated. While officers may ask drivers to take roadside breathalyzer tests to determine if they are over the legal BAC limit, there are currently no roadside tests that can detect the presence of marijuana or other drugs. If an officer believes that a person has used drugs, they may ask the driver to submit to field sobriety tests, or they may rely on observations such as a person's demeanor, whether they have red or bloodshot eyes, or the smell of marijuana in a vehicle. Drivers are allowed to refuse to take portable breathalyzer tests or field sobriety tests.

Penalties for Drug-Related OWIs

The penalties for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs vary depending on whether a person had any previous OWI offenses on their record and whether any other circumstances may apply to a case. In general, a first-time OWI charge will result in a driver's license revocation for between six and nine months, as well as several hundred dollars in fines. More serious penalties will apply for those who have previous OWI convictions or in cases where an intoxicated driver was involved in an accident that resulted in someone's injury or death.

Contact Our Waukesha County Drugged Driving Defense Attorneys

If you have been arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs in Wisconsin, it is critical that you seek out experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. With the right attorney on your side, you can make sure your rights are protected throughout the legal process, and you can determine your best options for defending against OWI charges or minimizing your potential penalties. At Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP, our Muskego OWI defense lawyers can help you determine how to handle a drug-related OWI charge so that you can move forward with confidence. Call our office at 262-232-6699 to arrange a free consultation.



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