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Can I Get an OWI on a Bicycle?

Posted on in DUI / OWI

OWI on a bicycle, OWI, driving under the influence, Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys, OWI statuteBy: Kenneth Baker

Now that it is officially summer, people in Wisconsin are once again enjoying the outdoors and the warm weather. This change of season sparks an interest for many to get out and enjoy the city in various ways. Some people enjoy playing volleyball at Bradford Beach, some swim in Lake Michigan, and some enjoy the beautiful parks we have here in Milwaukee. What happens though when you ride your bike to one of these locations and drink a few alcoholic beverages?

The State of Wisconsin has long recognized the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, dating back to 1911. The law then barred any intoxicated person from operating any automobile, motor cycle, or other similar motor vehicle. Through the years, the Wisconsin Legislature has altered the language of the law. But to this day, it remains largely the same. The current OWI statute generally bars any person from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant. But, what does this mean for bicyclists?


drug impaired driving, OWI convictions, Milwaukee OWI charge attorneys, Wisconsin law, DUIDrug impaired driving has gained the attention of law enforcement in recent years due to reports that drugged driving kills more drivers than drunk driving. Drug impaired driving charges are typically treated similarly to drunk driving OWI, however, there are differences.

Wisconsin Law on Drug Impaired Driving

Wisconsin law prohibits operating under influence of an intoxicant or other drug to a degree that renders the driver incapable of safely driving. The drug may be a controlled substance or a controlled substance analog. Also, Wisconsin law prohibits driving under the influence of a combination of drugs and/or alcohol.


Milwaukee DUI attorneys, sobriety checkpointWisconsin is one of 12 states that prohibit sobriety checkpoints. In Wisconsin, in order to be charged with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), police must have probable cause that a law is being broken in order to pull over a vehicle.

The Legality of DUI Checkpoints

In the case Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that, if properly conducted, sobriety checkpoints were legal and did not violate the 4th Amendment, which guarantees protection from unreasonable searches.


ridesharing, drunk-driving, milwaukee criminal defense lawyersA recent study has found no significant reduction in drunk driving fatalities due to the rollout of the ridesharing app Uber. This comes as a surprise to many as Uber has been viewed as an option to traditional taxis and public transportation and often gives rides to those who have been drinking. The ridesharing company began offering services in Milwaukee in 2014, and it has become a popular way for many to get around town safely.

Explaining the Study

Researchers explained the counterintuitive results by pointing to several factors: 


wisconsin owi penalties, milwaukee criminal defense lawyerA new law enacted by the Wisconsin Legislature and signed by Governor Walker in April 2016, became effective on January 1, 2017, sharply increases penalties on repeat drunk driving cases

2015 Wisconsin Act 371 makes a fourth drunk driving offense a felony for all purposes, regardless of when the previous OWI convictions occurred.  Under previous law, a fourth offense OWI would constitute a felony only if it was committed within five (5) years of a third offense drunk driving conviction.  Otherwise, it remained a misdemeanor. Act 371 eliminates this distinction.

A fourth offense OWI conviction is a Class H felony, carrying a maximum potential sentence of six (6) years in prison, a mandatory minimum period of incarceration and fines up to $10,000.

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