For most Wisconsinites, there is nothing wrong with having cocktails or enjoying beer with friends. If you climb behind the wheel of your car and try to drive home, though, you may face charges for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Upon conviction, you are potentially vulnerable to significant legal penalties and major life consequences.
It may surprise you to know driving is not an element of the OWI offense in the Badger State. In fact, it is legal for officers to arrest you when you are not driving or even have not started your car’s engine.
Having physical control
If you have a blood alcohol concentration above Wisconsin’s 0.08% legal limit, it is critical not to have physical control over a vehicle. After all, if you have physical control, you are operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Starting your car’s engine, putting the keys into the ignition or climbing into the driver’s seat may cross the legal threshold.
Sleeping in your car
It is significantly safer to sleep in your car than to drive it while you are under the influence of alcohol. Still, because Wisconsin has some notoriously cold winters, sleeping in your car with the engine running and heater on is probably a bad idea. Consequently, before you head out for a fun night on the town, you should arrange a sober and safe ride home.
While officers regularly arrest individuals who are not driving but have physical control over their vehicles, it may be easier to face OWI charges than you believe. Ultimately, though, if you were not driving at the time of your arrest, proving you lacked physical control may be an effective defense.