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Wisconsin Implements Alcohol Biomarker Testing

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.

The new tests analyze a driver's fingernails to learn more about the person's alcohol consumption over the long-term. The state already requires people who have convicted of drunk driving to undergo an assessment to discuss their drinking habits. However, these assessments are largely interview-based, which means that dishonesty can creep in. The hope is that these tests will provide a more objective assessment of people's risk for repeat offenses, which will also have the benefit of saving the state, and taxpayers, money since there will be fewer incarcerations.

The Purpose of the Tests

The idea behind the new biomarker testing is the same as the one behind the older alcohol assessment interviews. The state wants to identify people who are at an increased risk for driving drunk. The ultimate goal is to help those people who drive drunk because of some issue with how they handle alcohol. The idea is not to provide further punishment. Instead, the state's purported goal is to get people the help they need so that they are no longer a danger to other people on the road.

While the program here is in its infancy, European countries have been using alcohol biomarker testing for years, with some success. Currently, six Wisconsin counties are already using this sort of biomarker testing as a part of their therapy to prevent recidivism.

Wisconsin has begun to move towards taking OWI offenses more seriously. If you have an OWI conviction, especially a repeat one, contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney today. Our firm is here to help you make sure that the court hears your side of the story.
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