Getting pulled over in a traffic stop by a Wisconsin police officer can be an unsettling experience. There is no way to predict how such situations will end. Young drivers who have never encountered legal problems before may be quite intimidated to see a uniformed police officer approaching their drivers’ side windows. If the officer asks the driver to take a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS), it’s safe to bet that he or she suspects that person of operating while intoxicated, or OWI.
Many people, especially less experienced drivers, think they are legally obligated to take a preliminary alcohol screening test when asked to do so by a police officer during a traffic stop. The reality is that there are no legal or administrative penalties for refusing this test. It is not the same as a Breathalyzer test.
A PAS is administered through a mobile breath test device. It basically detects the presence of alcohol on a person’s breath, which, by the way, might be present without actually having consumed an alcoholic beverage due to other products that contain alcohol as a main ingredient. If a person submits to the test, the officer may consider a positive test result probable cause to make an arrest.
While it is perfectly legal to refuse compliance regarding a PAS breath test or field sobriety test, many Wisconsin drivers believe it’s best to comply and to cooperate with a police officer as much as possible to help mitigate the circumstances. Anyone charged with OWI in this state or another is guaranteed the opportunity to deny the charges in court. If that is the plan, it is helpful to allow an experienced criminal defense attorney to act on one’s behalf.