Frequently Asked Questions about DUIs in Wisconsin
Do I have to answer the officer’s questions when pulled over?
When law enforcement pulls someone over there are certain questions that person needs to answer and other questions that do not. Upon request you should answer and provide documents indicating your name, address, car insurance, license and registration. These are all common questions during a traffic stop. Outside of these common traffic stop questions, you are not legally required to answer any other questions. This is especially true for such questions as “have you been drinking” or “where are you coming from.” Although refusing to answer questions may delay the traffic stop, what you say may be used against you.
Do I have to agree to perform FSTs?
FSTs or Field Sobriety Tests are not legally required and you do not have to perform those tests if chose not to. Similar to questioning by law enforcement, your performance on these tests (or lack of performance) will be used by law enforcement. Law enforcement uses FSTs to establish probable cause for arrest. If you are arrested your poor performance will be used against you at trial. Anyone pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving knows how hard it is to pass these tests. Understand that if you chose not to participate in the FSTs law enforcement can use your refusal to establish probable cause. This will likely result in your arrest. However, they will not be able to show a jury your “poor” performance.
Can law enforcement use the PBT against me in court?
Similar to the FSTs above, you are under no legal obligation to submit to the Preliminary Breath Test, or PBT. The PBT is the breathalyzer law enforcement often requests out in the field immediately after field sobriety tests. This test can and often is used to establish probable cause to arrest someone for a drunk driving. Unlike the FSTs, a PBT cannot be used at trial and a jury will never hear the results of that test.
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Can I refuse the blood test after arrest?
During a drunk driving investigation you will be asked to do many things, all of which are designed to be used against you. You do not have to willingly consent to any of them. However, unlike the PBT and FSTs discussed above, refusing to submit to a requested blood test can result in additional penalties. Although the prosecutor cannot use the fact that you refused a blood test against you at trial, you will be subject to license revocation and an ignition interlock device.
Is a first offense DUI a crime?
A first offense DUI in Wisconsin is not a crime. Wisconsin is the only state that does not have criminal penalties for a first offense DUI. However, a second and subsequent DUI has significant penalties including mandatory jail time.
Do I get to talk with a lawyer before deciding to take any chemical tests?
You do not have the right to consult with an attorney before deciding whether or not you will submit to a chemical test of your breath or blood. Law enforcement will read you a document entitled “Informing the Accused.” This document contains all the required warnings Wisconsin Statute mandates. If you have been arrested for drinking and driving you alone will have to decide based on those warnings.
I received two citations when I was arrested, will I have to pay both fines?
An arrest for drunk driving in Wisconsin usually means two different citations. One for operating while intoxicated (OWI), and a second for a prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC). Ultimately if you are convicted of both charges, you will only face penalties on one. Although the state gets two whacks at a conviction they only make you pay once.