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New WI OWI law: What drivers need to know

A new drunk driving law, which went into effect in Wisconsin in March, allows officers to move forward with a blood draw when they suspect the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The big change: drivers no longer have the right to refuse this test.

Can officers just take my blood?

The short answer to this is: sometimes. Officers cannot pull you over, hold you down and stick a needle in your arm. They are still required to get a warrant to conduct a blood draw.

The difference is that you used to be able to refuse this test. You could face penalties for the refusal, but you had that right. That right was basically taken away with this new law.

What should I do if I am charged with an OWI?

Those who are stopped and the stop results in charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) have rights. First, the stop needs to have been justified. Second, the officers conducting the stop need to follow proper protocol. Third, any evidence gathered during the stop needs to go through proper channels. A failure at any one of these steps can lead to a dismissal of the case.

What is the impact of this new law?

The passage of this law provides one example of how OWI law in Wisconsin is constantly evolving. As a result, those who are facing OWI or DUI charges need to take these charges seriously. A drunk driving conviction can have a huge impact on your life. In addition to the criminal penalties of monetary fines and potential imprisonment, societal penalties can also apply. An OWI conviction results in a criminal record, something that may need to be revealed on applications for employment, housing and even scholarship opportunities.

Take the charges seriously. Contact an experienced OWI lawyer to discuss your legal options and help better ensure your rights are protected.

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