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Is Drugged Driving the Same as Drunk Driving in Wisconsin?

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Driving a vehicle after drinking alcohol is known to be dangerous, and drivers who have a certain level of alcohol in their system may be arrested for the offense of operating while intoxicated (OWI). However, some drivers may be uncertain about how the laws in Wisconsin address driving after using recreational drugs or other controlled substances. Are there certain levels of drugs that cause a person to be considered intoxicated? What about legal prescription drugs or other medications? Understanding how the laws address these issues can help a person avoid activities that could cause them to face criminal charges or other consequences that come with being arrested for OWI.

Wisconsin’s Definition of Impaired Driving

As is true in most other states, the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) in Wisconsin is .08 percent. A person will usually reach this BAC level after two or three alcoholic drinks. Even if they do not feel intoxicated or believe that they are safe to drive, they can face criminal charges if they are arrested and submit to a chemical BAC test that shows that they are over the legal limit. 

When it comes to other substances, the definition of intoxication is not always as clear. Different drugs can affect different people in different ways, especially if a person has built up a tolerance to a certain substance that requires them to use higher amounts of a drug before they experience a “high.” Because of this, measuring a person’s level of intoxication is not always easy.

When addressing impairment due to drug use, Wisconsin law states that it is illegal to operate a vehicle if the use of a substance makes it impossible for them to drive safely. This restriction also applies to combinations of multiple substances. This means that a person could potentially face OWI charges if they were under the legal BAC limit, but use of alcohol along with a prescription drug or over-the-counter medicine has affected their driving ability. Wisconsin law also states that it is illegal to drive with any detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in their system. If a post-arrest blood test shows that a person has substances such as marijuana, cocaine, or opioids in their system, they may be charged with OWI.

The charges and consequences for OWI are the same regardless of whether a person was intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. A first or second offense will usually result in a fine, the revocation of a person’s driver’s license for six to nine months, and the requirement to use an ignition interlock device for one year. A third offense may result in higher fines, jail time of up to six months, and a driver’s license revocation for 12 to 18 months.

Contact Our Milwaukee OWI Drugs Lawyers

If you have been arrested for drugged driving, you will need to determine the steps you can take to defend against criminal charges, protect your driver’s license, and avoid any related consequences, such as charges for drug possession. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, LLP, we will work to protect your rights, and we will provide you with the legal representation you need during your case, helping you achieve a positive outcome to your case. Contact our Milwaukee, WI drug OWI defense attorneys at 414-271-1440 to set up a consultation and learn more about how we can help you.





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