What to do when an OWI stop interrupts your summer break

Summer is just about at its half-way point, and many Wisconsin college students are once again gearing up for another school semester. For some, the current goal is to cram as much fun and recreation into the remaining weeks of vacation as possible. As is often the case with college kids, this may include going to parties. As is also often the case with college kids, such parties may include alcoholic beverages, which may complicate matters should there be a traffic stop on the way home.

Getting charged with OWI just before going back to college can really put a damper on your academic success. In fact, it may even affect your ability to return to school altogether. In some colleges, a OWI arrest would render you ineligible for enrollment. It's best to research your own school's rules ahead of time, and also to know what to do if a police officer stops you and you're worried about getting arrested.

What to do and not to do during a traffic stop

When a police officer is traveling behind your vehicle and flashes lights to signal you to pull over, your heart and mind may begin to race wondering how best to handle the impending situation. The following list includes several tips that may help mitigate your circumstances during a traffic stop:   

  • When you become aware that a police officer is pulling you over, it's best to swiftly come to a full stop in as safe a manner as possible on the side of the road. Any delay may raise the officer's suspicions.  
  • You do not want to exit your vehicle for any reason unless a police officer instructs you to do so. (If that happens, consider yourself detained.)   
  • You also do not want to disobey a police officer's instructions, nor is it wise to act flippant or disrespectful in any way when you speak to the officer.  
  • With regard to speaking, however, you may definitely invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent beyond answering basic questions about your own identification or that of your vehicle.   
  • You can also request legal representation to help protect your rights and make sure you do not incriminate yourself.

Although one of the last things you want to do on summer vacation from college is call your parents to tell them a police officer arrested you and charged you with OWI on your way home from a party, so long as you were not involved in a serious car accident that caused injury to another person, you may be able to rectify your situation with the help of you parents and other support networks.

A Wisconsin defense attorney is well-versed in OWI laws and understands just how important it is for a college student to remain in good standing at school (and at home, for that matter). By reaching out for guidance as soon as a problem arises, you may be able to quickly get life back on track and move toward another successful school year.

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