Craig KuharyCriminal Defense
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If you plan to drink, plan ahead to avoid an arrest for OWI

Many people feel that they will have no problem driving after enjoying a few beers or a couple of glasses of wine.

However, Wisconsin is serious about keeping drunk drivers off the road, so plan ahead. If you intend to go out for a few drinks with friends, consider the options for getting home safely.

Too many convictions

State DUI and OWI data for 2015 reveals that there were about 24,000 drunk driving convictions that year. Furthermore, vehicle crashes involving alcohol consumption resulted in 190 fatalities and approximately 2,900 injuries. In tests, the median blood alcohol concentration level was 0.16%, and the court found 94% of the drivers who refused to participate in testing guilty of operating while intoxicated.

A look at the penalties

If law enforcement arrests you on suspicion of driving while impaired by alcohol, you are looking at hefty fines, suspension or revocation of your driver’s license and even possible jail time. If convicted, your auto insurance rates could increase dramatically because your insurer may view you as a high-risk driver. You may refuse to take a blood test or breath test, which would cause you to lose your driving privileges immediately and for at least a year. The court will also order you to have an ignition interlock device installed in any vehicle you drive if your blood alcohol concentration level is 0.15% or higher.

What to do

Avoiding an arrest for OWI—and the possibility that you could cause a vehicle crash—simply requires prior planning. To ensure that you arrive home without incident, you could choose a sober designated driver from your group of friends, call a cab or even take public transportation, if available. You can also check with the restaurant or bar you are visiting. Some have programs in place to provide safe rides home for patrons.

Next steps

If the worst happens and law enforcement arrests you for OWI, explore your legal options promptly. Just as you made a mistake in choosing to drink and drive, remember that the officer may have made testing or procedural errors during your arrest. Finding and challenging such mistakes will result in the best possible outcome for your case.

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