Operating while intoxicated (OWI) charges are the Wisconsin equivalent of driving under the influence DUI laws. The OWI statutes in Wisconsin make it illegal for people to operate a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other mind-altering substances.
Those who have been arrested for drunk driving often question the specific rules that may have led to their arrest. Alcohol consumption is a common choice, and many people question whether their decision to drive home after only a drink or two is really a crime. Under the existing OWI statute in Wisconsin, there are primarily two reasons that someone would end up arrested and charged with an OWI offense.
They show signs of impairment
Police officers on traffic patrol will quickly pull over anyone who displays signs of chemical impairment at the wheel. Sometimes, they will even go out looking for specific drivers if people call to report what appears to be a drunk driver.
Swerving from lane to lane, speeding up or braking erratically and driving at abnormally low speeds could all be reasons for an officer to pull someone over because they appear impaired. Depending on how the interaction unfolds, the driver could very well end up facing OWI charges.
They are over the legal limit
There are many reasons why someone may end up taking a breath test. It is common practice for police officers to ask those involved in a crash to perform a chemical breath test. Officers may also request a test when they think someone could be under the influence during a basic traffic stop. A driver pulled over for a mistake with their turn signal could end up performing a breath test.
Even if somebody’s driving appeared perfectly normal on the street, failing a breath test by being over the per se limit will also lead to someone’s arrest. A per se limit is illegal to exceed in and of itself. For most drivers, having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is all that is necessary for their arrest and criminal prosecution for an OWI.
Learning more about how Wisconsin prosecutors develop OWI charges can help those who are hoping to fight back in criminal court. Seeking legal guidance can also be very helpful as well.