What is a Refusal Charge in Wisconsin?
Under Wisconsin's Implied Consent Law anyone who is operating a motor vehicle in Wisconsin has "consented" to a chemical test of their breath, blood or urine if requested by law enforcement during an OWI investigation or arrest. You have the right to withdraw that consent. However, if you do withdraw consent and refuse to submit to the test you will be charged with a Refusal. A Refusal in Wisconsin is a separate charge and is often in addition to an OWI. As such it has its own penalties that are separate from any other penalties you may face with an OWI conviction. A conviction for a Refusal also counts as an OWI for counting purposes, i.e. second offense OWI, third offense OWI and so on. A conviction for a Refusal will result in 12 - 36 month revocation, 12- 36 month ignition interlock order, and a mandatory AODA assessment. In addition, there is a waiting period before you are able to obtain an occupational license.
You Must Promptly Act on a Refusal Allegation
If you have been alleged to have refused under Wisconsin's Implied Consent Law you must act in ten days of your citation. Failure to do so will result in an automatic finding of guilt. At the time of your arrest, law enforcement must provide you with a "Notice of Intent to Revoke." This notice provides you with the address of the court and instructions on demanding a hearing. It is this document that starts the Refusal proceedings. Again, you have TEN DAYS to file a request for a refusal hearing from the date you receive that notice. If you fail to request that hearing, you will be found to have improperly refused and will be convicted of such charge.
Is a Refusal Worse Then an OWI?
A conviction for a refusal will count as a conviction for an OWI. In certain situations a refusal will have significantly worse penalties. For example, the penalties for a first offense refusal are stiffer then that of a first offense OWI. There is a longer revocation period, a mandatory IID, and a 30 day waiting period before you can obtain your occupational license. A second offense refusal has a waiting period of 90 days and two years revocation, and a third offense has a 120 days waiting period and three years revocation. However, one thing that a conviction for a refusal does not include is mandatory jail time. Second and subsequent OWI convictions do carry mandatory jail time. The question "is a refusal worse than an OWI" can depend on your situation and expectations.
Madison, WI Refusal Attorneys
If you are facing a revocation of your drivers license because of a refusal to follow Wisconsin's Implied Consent Law you need the help of an experienced defense attorney. Anderson & O'Connell, S.C. are Madison, WI refusal attorneys. Our attorneys always offer a free case evaluation.