When you are arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) in Wisconsin, you are required to submit to a chemical test – either a blood test, urine test, or breathalyzer – to establish your blood alcohol content (BAC). This is a hard and fast rule that is established by state law. If you refuse to take the test, you can face serious consequences, including an additional charge (with additional penalties) and negative effects on your OWI defense at trial.
Wisconsin’s Implied Consent Law for BAC Tests
While you have the right to speak with an attorney under most circumstances, there is an important exception that applies after you have been pulled over for drunk driving. If the arresting officer asks you to submit to a breath test, you are not allowed to refuse, and asking to speak with a lawyer may be deemed a refusal. Section 343.305(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes states that all drivers are:
“deemed to have given consent to one or more tests of [their] breath, blood or urine, for the purpose of determining the presence or quantity in his or her blood or breath, of alcohol, [or] other drugs, when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer.”
This is known as Wisconsin’s “implied consent” law. It means that, by driving on public roads, you have implicitly agreed to submit to chemical testing if you are ever arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.
Importantly, Wisconsin’s implied consent law only applies to the official BAC test administered after your arrest. You are not required to submit to a breath test at the scene before you are taken into custody. Your refusal to take this preliminary test cannot be used as evidence against you; however, the officer may still find other grounds to arrest you and then force you to submit to chemical testing.
What If I Refuse a Breath Test in Wisconsin?
If you violate Wisconsin’s implied consent law and refuse to take a breath test (or other chemical test of the police department’s choosing), you will face a number of negative consequences:
- You will be charged with refusing to submit to chemical testing (in addition to being charged for OWI).
- The arresting officer will take your license and issue a Notice of Intent to Revoke. If you fail to request a hearing within 10 days, your license will automatically be suspended for a minimum of one year. Requesting a hearing does not guarantee that you will keep your license.
- You will be required to submit to an alcohol assessment, install ignition interlock devices on your vehicles, attend alcohol treatment, and/or meet other requirements – all at your own expense.
In addition, your refusal to submit to testing can be used against you during your OWI trial. Specifically, the judge will instruct the jury that your refusal to take the test can be considered as evidence of guilt.
Disclaimer: This Article Is Not Legal Advice.
Never rely on an article for legal advice as the law frequently changes, information may not be accurate, there may be exceptions to a rule, and reliance may be detrimental. Always consult one of our experienced attorneys for competent, current, and accurate legal advice.
Have You Been Arrested for OWI in Wisconsin? Contact Us Today
Facing OWI charges in Wisconsin is already a very serious matter, and refusing to submit to a breath test after your arrest can make your case much challenging to defend. However, there are still defenses available, and it is important to hire an experienced defense lawyer who can help protect your legal rights. To speak with an expert attorney at Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C. about your Wisconsin OWI, call (715) 842-2291 today.