The answer to this question is different for every individual. There is no doubt that having an OWI conviction will affect you for the rest of you life. The questions that you must answer are: What effect will it have on me? Is it worth fighting? Can my future afford to have an OWI conviction? How will it affect my employment, my insurance, my reputation, and my personal relationships?
An attorney that focuses on OWI defense will know how to guide you through this difficult process and help you make the best decisions for your future. OWI defense has become so complex that simply hiring a general criminal defense attorney is not in your best interests. As a potential OWI client, you should hire an attorney that focuses on drunk driving defense and is trained to analyze and interpret advanced scientific evidence found in every OWI case.
Am I going to jail? And if so, how long?
The answer to this question depends on whether this is your first OWI charge and if there are any aggravating factors. The State of Wisconsin does not require jail time for a first OWI. However, for any second OWI charge or beyond, Wisconsin requires a mandatory jail sentence which varies greatly depending on how many OWI's you have had and the inclusion of any aggravating factors. Aggravating factors include factors such as driving with higher BAC levels, to the extreme of driving with a minor in the car which is potentially a Felony.
As an attorney that focuses on drunk driving defense, it is my job to fight vigorously for my clients to dismiss the case all together or work with the District Attorney to provide the best possible outcome for my client so he/she can move on with life.
What is BAC?
BAC is the abbreviation for "blood alcohol content or concentration". Your blood alcohol content is used to determine whether you are legally intoxicated. When you consume alcohol your body breaks it down and leaves the byproduct ethanol within your blood. Your BAC is expressed as a percentage in terms of the amount of ethanol per liter of blood you have within your body at the time of the test. Wisconsin's BAC limit is .08 and is governed by Wis. Stat. 346.63. Therefore, if you have a BAC over .08 and drive a motor vehicle, you are breaking the law and can be charged with an OWI.
Can I still win my case if I failed my preliminary breath test and later breath/blood tests?
The failure of preliminary breath tests (taken on the side of the road) and later breath or blood tests (taken at the police department or hospital) does not automatically mean that you will be convicted of an OWI. There are many factors that an experienced OWI/DUI attorney will evaluate and use in your defense, the breath/blood test is only one of those factors. Other factors to consider include: whether there was probable cause for being pulled over, whether the field sobriety tests were performed correctly, and whether the test machines used to measure your BAC were properly maintained and calibrated accurately.
Did I have to take a preliminary breath test on the side of the road?
The short answer is no. You are allowed to refuse the preliminary breath test on the side of the road. You are not required to take a roadside preliminary breath test because of its proven error rates. Due to these inaccuracies, this device has only been approved by the State of Wisconsin to determine if you have alcohol within your blood, not what your blood alcohol content is. However, if you refuse to take the preliminary breath test, you will most likely be arrested and transported to a police station or hospital to get an accurate BAC sample.