Can I be charged with an OWI in a parking lot?

Can I Be Charged With An OWI If…

Can I be charged with an OWI in a parking lot?

Yes, you can be charged with an OWI if you are found to be driving under the influence of an intoxicant while in a private parking lot. Wisconsin Statute § 346.61 states the following:

“In addition to being applicable upon highways, §§ 346.62 to 346.64 are applicable upon all premises held out to the public for use of their motor vehicles, all premises provided by employers to employees for the use of their motor vehicles and all premises provided to tenants of rental housing in buildings of 4 or more units for the use of their motor vehicles, whether such premises are publicly or privately owned and whether or not a fee is charged for the use thereof. Sections 346.62to 346.64 do not apply to private parking areas at farms or single-family residences.”

The courts, in determining whether the private parking lot is “held out to the public for use,” will look at how the parking lot or private road is used. If on any given day any resident of the community who is licensed and has a car could access the lot, it will be held out for public use. This, along with employee lots and apartment complexes, covers just about every area you drive or park your vehicle. The only definite areas you will not be charged is if you only operated your vehicle on your single family home or farm.

Can I be charged with a DUI if I wasn’t actually driving my car?

Unfortunately you can. The law states that driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence is illegal. As you noticed, the statue references driving AND operating a vehicle. Operating a vehicle means the “physical manipulation of the controls necessary to put the car in motion. One such example of manipulating a control, turning the ignition key to start the vehicle. For more information of the difference between driving and operating and what constitutes operating check out our driving vs. operating a motor vehicle post.

Can I be charged with a DUI on a snowmobile or a boat?

Some of your drunk driving questions might relate to where and how you can be charged. In cases that involve vehicles other than a motor vehicle, yes, you can be charged and convicted for operating a snowmobile, boat or ATV while under the influence of an intoxicant. In fact, Wisconsin statute § 350.101 specifically applies to intoxicated operation of a snowmobile. Much of this is statute is similar to the motor vehicle statute prohibiting drunk driving. However, a conviction for a snowmobile OWI will not result in a loss of your driver’s license. Penalties for a snowmobile OWI conviction are as follows:

A first offense: forfeit not less than $400 nor more than $550.
A second offense within 5 years of previously being convicted under the intoxicated snowmobiling law or the refusal law shall be fined not less than $300 nor more than $1,000 and shall be imprisoned not less than 5 days nor more than 6 months.
If within 5 years prior to the arrest for the current violation, you have been convicted 2 or more times previously under the intoxicated snowmobiling law or refusal law you shall be fined not less than $600 nor more than $2,000 and shall be imprisoned not less than 30 days nor more than one year in the county jail.

You are also required to take an AODA assessment upon conviction. This statute applies on every Wisconsin snowmobile trail. Similar to the motor vehicle law, the only place you may not be subjected to a snowmobile OWI charge is on your private property as long as that property is not part of Wisconsin’s snowmobile trails.

Can I be charged with an OWI for prescription medications?

Yes. Under Wisconsin OWI laws driving while under the influence of an intoxicant includes controlled substances such as prescription medication. Taking prescription medications as prescribed by your doctor can still result in violating Wisconsin OWI laws. By their nature, medications have an effect on your body. Many medications have side effects that include drowsiness and have warnings to not operate a motor vehicle until you know how it will affect you. Prescription drug cases can be difficult cases to fight. However, there are strategies and potential defenses available.