The best way to avoid being charged with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) is to avoid driving after you have been drinking. In the event that you are pulled over and have consumed alcohol, there are a few thing you need to know in order to minimize your chances of being charged with an OWI.
If you are arrested and detained for OWI, these same precautions go a long way in determining if you are found guilty or not.
When an officer pulls you over, everything you do can and more than likely will be used against you in the court of law if you are arrested for OWI. That’s why it is so important you know what you should and shouldn’t do the moment you see you are being pulled over.
In order to be stopped for suspicion of OWI, the officer must have probable cause to pull you over for a traffic violation or have reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated.
In other words, you must violate a traffic law or exhibit driving patterns that may not be illegal but create suspicion that the driver is intoxicated. You cannot legally be pulled over just because the officer believes you may be intoxicated, say because you just left a parking lot of a tavern.
Assuming you violated a traffic law, giving the officer probable cause to pull you over, the officer cannot investigate you for another crime such as OWI without having reasonable suspicion you are intoxicated.
Your actions as soon as you are pulled over are going to determine if there is probable cause for an OWI arrest.
Here Is What You Should Do If You Are Pulled Over
Pull over, put the car in park, turn the vehicle off, roll your window down just enough for the officer to hear you, and turn on the interior light if its dark outside.
Put your hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer to approach the vehicle. Do not attempt to exit the vehicle unless you are instructed to do so by the officer.
First and foremost you need to remember to stay calm. Your goal is to get through this situation as quickly as possible.
Being rude to the officer will not play in your favor. So no matter what, always be polite and respectful.
Being disrespectful or showing anger will only complicate your case and can lead to reasonable suspicion of impairment.
Talk as Little as Possible
You do have the option to exercise your right to ramain silent. If the officer asks if you have been drinking, you can answer by saying, “I don’t want to answer any questions.”
Keep in mind the officer will likely use your answers against you either way.
If you choose to cooperate, avoid talking excessivley. The more you talk the more evidence you will give the officer.
When the officer asks you a question keep your answer short and to the point. Never give a detailed rundown of your day.
If the officer asks a question you don’t want to answer, simply say you would prefer not to answer. Be sure you remain polite at all times during your encounter with the officer.
Think Twice Before You Refuse a Test
Once the officer has established a reasonable suspicion to believe you may be intoxicated they will likely ask you to take a field sobriety test and blow into a portable breathalyzer test (PBT).
These tests are used to determine if the officer will arrest you. You do have the right to refuse these tests.
If you refuse to perform field sobriety tests the officer may use your refusal as evidence of probable cause to arrest. Although there is no statutory sanction for refusing to submit to a PBT, if you do refuse to do a PBT test of your breath that evidence can also be used as evidence of probable cause to arrest.
If you are arrested the arresting officer will read you a document called Informing the Accused. The officer will ask you if you will consent to a chemical evidentiary test of your blood, breath, or urine.
If you refuse this test you WILL be sanctioned. You will be issued a refusal citation and if you do not act fast and address this refusal by asking for a refusal hearing within the 10-day time deadline your license will be revoked for at least one year.
Make a Record of Everything That Happened
In the event you are arrested, it is very important to get accurate documentation of everything that happened. Write down everything you can remember about that day. What lead up to you being pulled over? What happened during the arrest?
Being able to recount these details could end up playing in your favor.
Hire The Right Attorney
As you very well know, not all attorneys are created equal. And the attorney you choose to work with can literally make or break your case.
If you are dealing with an OWI you need an attorney that has the knowledge and experience to fight your case.
Jessie Weber is an experienced OWI attorney in Eau Claire that has worked in both the private and public sectors. Over the last decade she has dealt with a wide variety of legal matters included Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) charges.
Her desire is to provide the best possible defense strategy for every client based on their personal life experiences, needs and goals.
This website is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Using this site or communicating with Jessie Weber Law, LLC does not form an attorney/client relationship and any email communication sent through this website is not considered confidential under the Wisconsin Supreme Rules. Please review the full disclaimer for more information.