Like everyone in the Badger State, you know that operating a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol is a bad idea. After all, not only can an alcohol-related accident cause you to sustain serious injuries, but driving drunk also carries significant legal penalties. Still, life has a way of intervening in anyone’s plans. Before you climb behind the wheel, you should understand Wisconsin’s implied consent law.

Police officers regularly arrest Wisconsin drivers for operating vehicles while impaired. When you drive on the state’s roadways, you give your implied consent to chemical testing to determine if your blood alcohol concentration is above the 0.08% legal limit. Law enforcement officers may test your blood, breath or urine pursuant to the implied consent law. If you refuse chemical testing, you may face stiff legal penalties.

Penalties for a first-time OWI

As with other states, in Wisconsin, the penalties for a first-time OWI are less severe than for subsequent infractions. If you drive under the influence, you can expect authorities to pursue a suspension of your driving privileges that lasts up to nine months. Further, if your BAC is above 0.15%, you can plan for authorities to install an ignition lock on your vehicle.

Penalties for refusing a chemical test

Despite Wisconsin’s implied consent provision, you have the right to refuse chemical testing. If you do, though, you face steeper penalties than a first-time OWI carries. That is, if you refuse a chemical test, you can plan for a one-year revocation of your driver’s license. Also, even if your BAC is only slightly above the legal limit, you will probably have to keep an ignition lock on your vehicle for a full year.

The best way to avoid the consequences of an OWI ticket in the Badger State is never to drive a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. If you find yourself in the middle of a traffic stop, though, you should understand Wisconsin’s implied consent law. While refusing chemical testing is your prerogative, the legal consequences of doing so may be worse than an OWI infraction.