Because the ability to drive is a privilege—rather than a right—states have the ability to regulate who has a license and who does not. Under Wisconsin’s Implied Consent law, drivers who refuse to give their consent to a breath or blood test after being arrested on suspicion of operating while intoxicated (OWI) could face a revocation of their driver’s license—without being found guilty of a crime! In this case, your license will be automatically revoked for refusal unless you request a hearing with the court within 10 days of your drunk-driving arrest.
As the name suggests, Implied Consent laws state that—simply by driving on public roadways—drivers imply their consent to take a chemical test if asked by a law enforcement agent. This law applies not only to Wisconsin driver’s license holders but anyone who drives on public roads in the state.
It’s important to note that law enforcement agents use two types of breath tests during the course of an OWI investigation: a roadside test and the evidentiary breath test. The roadside test is administered during the traffic stop, and is used to establish probable cause for a drunk-driving arrest. The evidentiary test, on the other hand, is administered at the police station and the official results may be used when filing charges for OWI. The Implied Consent law makes it a violation to refuse the evidentiary breath test; however, the roadside test is entirely voluntary (a fact that many officers fail to mention).
If you refuse to take the evidentiary breath or blood test, the administrative penalties could include a one-year license revocation and the installation of an ignition interlock device, along with an assessment and treatment. In addition, you will have to wait 30 days before applying for an occupational license. This is in contrast to the six- to nine-month license revocation you would have received if you took the breathalyzer and tested over the legal limit and were subsequently convicted of OWI or BAC.
Officers are required to inform you of the Implied Consent law and the consequences for refusing to take the evidentiary test. If the officer failed to read the Implied Consent warning, your defense lawyer could challenge your license revocation and use this information to fight your criminal charges. Moreover, an officer should not be attempting to explain the Implied Consent Law. If he or she does, that may be a defense to refusal, as is lack of probable cause to arrest.
At Tracey Wood & Associates, we have helped a numerous clients who declined the chemical tests successfully beat their refusal and criminal cases. To learn how we can help you, fill out our online form now for an OWI case evaluation.