Common Drunk Driving Questions
What is the difference between an OWI and a DUI?
There is no difference between an OWI and a DUI. They are both acronyms for a drunk driving charge. In Wisconsin, we refer to a drunk driving charge as an OWI, or operating while intoxicated. DUI stands for driving under the influence. You may have heard drunk driving charges referred to as DWIs, or driving while intoxicated. Throughout our website we frequently interchange OWI and DUI when referring to a drunk driving charge.
What is the OWI process and what is expected of me as the defendant?
This is one of many common drunk driving questions. For the most part OWI defense plays out in the same process for a majority of cases. But it does vary depending on whether you are charged with an OWI 1st, 2nd, or 3rd +. Additionally, the process and what you as the defendant need to do varies on what court you are in, i.e. municipal court or circuit court, and who is prosecuting your charge, i.e. the city, county, or state. One of our focuses at Anderson & O’Connell, SC is to keep you informed of what you need to do and how you can help the defense of your case. When you know what to expect as your case progresses, your stress level will be reduced significantly will.
As a DUI Attorney what is one of the first things you will do for me?
At Anderson & O’Connell, SC we start by requesting an administrative review hearing. This hearing is available if you provided a sample of your breath or blood, you have a prohibited alcohol concentration or restricted controlled substance in your blood, and you request the hearing within 10 days. If we win the hearing you will keep your license until the end of your case. However, holding this hearing gives us an opportunity to review your case before we ever go to court. That can open the door to potential OWI defenses that we would otherwise not have known about.
What happens at my first court appearance in an OWI case?
The first court appearance for an OWI case is where we enter not guilty pleas. As your case progresses we will request discovery and file open records request with the arresting agency. If any videos are available we will get them. Depending on the specific facts of your case we will either be preparing for trial or working on mitigating any potential penalty. Contact us today to find the specific process your OWI charge will follow.
What are the potential outcomes of my DUI case?
If you are convicted of a drunk driving charge you will face a wide range of penalties. Those penalties will depend on the facts of your case and how they relate to the OWI sentencing guidelines. You may feel that your OWI case could only end with a dismissal of all charges or being convicted of all charges. That is not necessarily true. Often plea deals are reached where some of the charges are dismissed in exchange for a plea to another charge. Some cases may be settled with an amended charge that does not result in an OWI conviction. A good attorney will be straight with you when discussing the potential outcomes of your case. It can be frustrating when expectations are not met, or are unobtainable. We will be straight forward with you when discussing the potential outcomes of your case. We will be straight forward with the problems we see in your case or if we believe your case should go to trial. Although we won’t sugar coat the potential penalties, we will aggressively fight your OWI charge. We can’t guarantee the outcome, but we can guarantee that every possible defense will be explored. If you have additional drunk driving questions do not hesitate to contact our office.
Will my OWI case go to trial?
First and foremost, if your case needs to go to trial, we will take it to trial. However, most drunk driving cases do not go to trial. This is because many issues with an OWI case are litigated prior to trial either through a motion hearing or between the defense and prosecution. In other cases the prosecutor offers an acceptable plea bargain. A small percentage of drunk driving cases actually go to jury trial. It is important to know whether your attorney is willing to take your case all the way. We are dedicated to doing everything it takes to get the results you expect, including taking your drunk driving case to trial.
Drunk Driving Questions Relating to Location, other Vehicles
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, ss. 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 driving or operating a motor vehicle. For more information of the difference between driving and operating and what constitutes operating check out our driving vs. operating a motor vehicle page.
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.