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Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers, defending against OWI, OWI charges, field sobriety tests, OWI casesBy Ray Dall’Osto and Brianna Meyer

Being pulled over by a law enforcement officer for a traffic stop is stressful; however, the possibility of being arrested for OWI (Operating While Intoxicated, also called DUI) can make things much worse. If you are pulled over for a traffic stop or on suspicion of drunk driving, it is important for you to understand your rights. If you don’t know how to assert your rights, you have none.

The Right to Avoid Self-Incrimination

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Milwaukee drunk driving attorneyMany people are unaware that they can be arrested for operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OWI) of alcohol, even if they are sleeping in their automobile. Wisconsin law prohibits anyone from operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, among other things, that render them incapable of safely driving. The law defines what penalties you may be subject to and even defines what qualifies as an intoxicant. However, the law conveniently fails to define the term ‘operating.’

Courts generally interpret the term ‘operating,’ broadly. However, courts will look at the totality of the circumstances to determine, whether or not, you were capable of operating the automobile. If you are asleep in the front seat with the keys in the ignition and lights on, the court may rule that you were capable of operating the automobile under the law. However, if your keys were in the trunk, lights were off and you were asleep in the back seat of the car, the judge might rule differently. If the automobile was completely disabled, unable to turn on, then you may have a strong defense against OWI charges.

Factors Courts Consider

As stated above, the court will look at the facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest to make a determination if you were about to operate an automobile under Wisconsin law. These factors may include:

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Milwaukee drunk driving attorneyWhen you have been arrested for operating your vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OWI), you may feel that your life cannot get any worse at that moment in time. Shortly after you are arrested, the circumstances surrounding your arrest are still developing, and depending on the situation, your case may even be dismissed months down the line. However, if you engage in certain actions, you may give the prosecution more ammunition against you and proving that you may be your own worst enemy. Under Wisconsin law, in order to be convicted of a OWI, the prosecution must prove that you were operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant. The prosecution has to prove every single element of the OWI charge in order to obtain a conviction. If the prosecution fails to prove any single element, the case against you is substantially weakened which raises your chance of acquittal.

Things to Avoid

If you have been arrested for an OWI, you will most likely make bail and be released under certain conditions. While on bail, there are a few things that you should avoid doing at all costs because they may negatively affect your case.
  • First, avoid mentioning anything on social media about your arrest or OWI. Anything that you say on social media may be used against you in court by the prosecution. If you make an admission that you were driving drunk or were arrested after leaving a party where you drank all night, it could severely limit the success of your defense.
  •  Second, you should avoid indulging in any partying or heavy drinking. A condition of your bail may require you to abstain from drinking.
  •  Third, if you were arrested for an OWI, your license will most likely be suspended. You should avoid driving because you can get arrested for driving with a suspended license and incur more jail time than necessary.
  •  Fourth, do not miss any court dates. The judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest and you could possibly spend time in jail until your case is resolved.  Show up to all your court dates on time.
  •  Fifth, make sure you obtain an experienced OWI defense attorney. If you try to handle the case on your own, you may inadvertently assist the prosecution not to mention negotiating a bad deal for yourself.

Consult an Attorney

By following these rules and securing legal counsel, you will give yourself the best chance to fight the OWI charges. If you are facing OWI charges, you should contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney who will protect your rights and hold the prosecution to its burden.

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