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Milwaukee, WI OWI defense lawyer

By Attorney Nicole Masnica

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or even certain prescription medications is a serious offense, and a conviction for such an offense may result in a number of significant consequences. An OWI conviction can carry mandatory fines, time in jail or prison, revocation of your driving privileges, installation of an ignition interlock device, and required addiction counseling.

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By Jason Luczak & Brianna Meyer

Milwaukee drunk driving defense attorneyMilwaukee drunk driving defense attorney

The Wisconsin Assembly passed two bills this summer which, if approved by the state Senate, would impose stiffer penalties on individuals convicted of operating while intoxicated (OWI). The first bill would establish a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least five years for drivers convicted of an OWI that resulted in a fatality.  A driver facing such a charge under current law faces a considerable prison sentence, although a sentencing court has the discretion to impose jail time, probation or combination of the two. The new bill passed by the Assembly would take away all discretion and individual consideration of each defendant and lump them all together regardless of blood alcohol level, treatment needs and efforts, etc. The second bill would make it obligatory for drivers facing OWI charges, including all first-time offenders, to appear in court. Because a first-time OWI is currently not a criminal offense, the civil rules of procedure allowing an appearance by legal counsel for some court proceedings can occur. 

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Wisconsin drunk driving charges defense lawyerDuring the holiday season, you will likely have many occasions to celebrate with friends and family. When you drink alcohol at these parties, it is best to avoid getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. You should do everything you can to ensure that you are not one of the many who will be arrested for OWI (Operating While Intoxicated, the official charge for drunk driving in Wisconsin) during the holidays.

Alcohol Consumption by Holiday

According to Alcohol.org, the average number of drinks consumed on Thanksgiving is 2.7. The average number of drinks consumed on other “winter holidays” is 3.1. New Year’s Eve is one of the booziest holidays for Americans, as the average number of drinks consumed on that day is 4.4. 

Tips to Avoid Driving Drunk

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of the organizations that make up the National Institutes of Health, offers the following tips:

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Milwaukee marijuana dui defense lawyerMany people associate DUI, or driving under the influence, with the overconsumption of alcohol. However, one can be convicted of a DUI (also called Operating While Intoxicated or OWI) for driving while under the influence of illegal drugs or prescription medications.

Marijuana OWI

There are several reasons why marijuana OWI charges are on the rise in recent years. Marijuana has become legal for medical or recreational purposes in many states. Also, Canada recently legalized pot for recreational use nationwide. In addition, growing practices have yielded increasingly more potent marijuana crops. 

Wisconsin law states that “No person may drive or operate a motor vehicle while . . . [t]he person has a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in his or her blood.” This is different from how the law defines OWI for alcohol, which occurs when someone drinks to a point that “renders him or her incapable of safely driving.”

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Motorcyclists Should Celebrate Responsibly to Avoid OWIs

Milwaukee motorcycle DUI defense lawyerRecently, Harley-Davidson celebrated its 115 year anniversary with a weekend of motorcycle events in Milwaukee. The festivities included a parade, a demonstration of motorcycle driving skills by police and civilians, and factory tours.

For many people, a birthday or anniversary is a time to celebrate with an alcoholic beverage, but it is important to remember that drinking and riding motorcycles do not mix. The law in Wisconsin is clear: motorcyclists cannot drive with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08% or greater. In addition, driving under the influence, also known as operating while intoxicated (OWI), comes with stiff penalties in Wisconsin. 

Impaired Motorcycling Statistics

Driving a motorcycle while under the influence is responsible for a large number of deaths each year in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, there were 4,950 motorcyclists killed in traffic accidents. Of those, 1,259 (25 percent) were alcohol-impaired with a BAC that was over the legal limit. 

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Textalyzer, Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys, constitutional rights, DUI, distracted driversBy James Lewis

The dangers associated with texting and driving have prompted some states to take direct action to combat the issue. With the aid of Cellebrite, a technology company, police departments may soon be able to use a handheld device to determine whether a person has been using his or her cell phone while driving a car. Named after the breathalyzer device used to detect alcohol present in a driver’s blood, the “textalyzer” analyzes cellphone data and allows an officer to see when drivers last used their cell phone.

The “textalyzer” is plugged into a driver’s phone and allows officers to see if the driver was interacting with the phone while driving. The company behind the device, Cellebrite, claims that the “textalyzer” collects minimal data from a driver’s cellphone. For example, the “textalyzer” could tell an officer that a driver had sent a text message at 1:56 p.m., but the device would not tell the officer the content of that message. While this advance in road safety technology may aid officers in catching distracted drivers, the technology could infringe on privacy rights and violate the constitution.

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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.

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Wisconsin snowmobiler drink and drive. Milwaukee OWI attorneyBy James Lewis

Winter in Wisconsin is in full-swing now, and more than 25,000 miles of snowmobile trails are open.  The 2016-17 snowmobile season will see more than 200,000 riders throughout the state.  Before taking to the trails, it is important that you know about how Wisconsin OWI laws affect snowmobile operators.   

First, if you are driving your snowmobile on a public trail, road or highway, then Wisconsin OWI laws, the legal limit (.08 BAC) and penalties will likely apply to you if you drink alcohol and drive your snowmobile.  If you are on private property, then the rules on having to submit to a chemical test may differ, unless another criminal offense or accident has occurred.  Going off-trail, onto lakes, etc., can vary the penalties that apply.  Fines for a snowmobile OWI can range between $400 and $2000, depending on how many similar infractions you have on your record and the nature of the incident.   In addition to fines, drivers found to be operating under the influence of alcohol may also have their privilege to operate a snowmobile revoked by a court upon conviction. However, unlike automobile OWI law, which counts the lifetime number of prior OWI violations, the snowmobile OWI laws only count violations within the previous five years.

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Wisconsin drunk driving attorney, Wisconsin defense lawyerGetting caught behind the wheel while intoxicated can have serious consequences in the state of Wisconsin. It can affect your ability to drive, result in jail time, and even have an impact on your employment opportunities if listed on your criminal record. Furthermore, the process of dealing with a DUI (driving under the influence) or OWI (operating a vehicle while intoxicated) can be frustrating, expensive, and highly arduous. If you are facing OWI or DUI charges in Wisconsin, know how to protect your rights and your future against the potential long-term consequences.

Wisconsin Legal Limits

In the state of Wisconsin, the maximum blood alcohol content (BAC) permissible by law is 0.08. Anything above that and you can be arrested and charged with a DUI or OWI (often used interchangeably). The only exceptions are for commercial drivers, who can face charges for a BAC for a limit of 0.04 or higher, and drivers under the age of 21, who can be arrested for any trace of alcohol in their system.

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Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, Wisconsin defense lawyer, operating under the influenceThe state of Wisconsin is pursuing a new method of curbing repeat offenses for drunk driving. State officials are going to begin testing people with repeat OWI convictions for “alcohol biomarkers.” These are residual molecules that can show the history of a person's drinking. The idea is to use these biomarkers to attempt to identify people who are at a higher risk for continuing to drive drunk. Some research from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee already suggests that these sorts of tests, combined with computer analytics, can help predict people's drunk driving tendencies.

What Alcohol Biomarker Testing Is

Alcohol biomarkers are a new type of test designed to determine a person's long-term drinking history. Ordinary alcohol tests check for the presence of alcohol in the blood, but alcohol only lasts in the blood for a matter of hours before it is gone. This makes it impossible to learn about a person's alcohol intake by directly testing for alcohol. However, alcohol does not simply vanish from the blood. Instead, it is metabolized. This means that the body converts the molecules of alcohol into other molecules. These molecules last much longer in the body, finding their way into the drinker's fingernails, which a chemist can then examine.

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