With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, you may be thinking about heading out for some fun with your friends. If your plans include drinking, though, you must be careful not to drive. After all, Wisconsin has some tough penalties for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
If you drive drunk, you are apt to find yourself in handcuffs. While never driving after you have been drinking is a way to avoid legal trouble, you should also understand how OWI arrests typically occur.
Law enforcement personnel must enforce traffic laws. As such, if they suspect a driver is not following certain provisions, they may stop the vehicle to either confirm or dispel their suspicions. Before doing so, they must have reasonable suspicion that you are violating the law. Reasonable suspicion does not have to be much. Officers also do not need to suspect that you are driving drunk. Even a broken taillight or missed signal are probably sufficient.
In Wisconsin, you do not have to be driving to face arrest for an OWI offense. On the contrary, state statutes contemplate that operating a motor vehicle involves any conduct that shows control over the vehicle. If, for example, you start your car and sleep in the driver’s seat, you have probably met the elements of an OWI. Accordingly, if officers observe this type of conduct, you may need to aggressively defend yourself against OWI charges.
If you frequently travel outside the Badger State, you may eventually see a sobriety checkpoint. Police use this enforcement tool to check the sobriety of all drivers passing a certain stretch of roadway. Sobriety checkpoints are not legal in Wisconsin, as a state statute expressly prohibits them. Therefore, officers should not arrest you for an OWI at a sobriety checkpoint.
To avoid the legal consequences of an OWI, you should not drink and drive on New Year’s Eve or any other time. Nonetheless, by understanding how OWI arrests usually happen, you can better plan for staying out of jail.