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OWI: Should you submit to a Breathalyzer test?

Getting pulled over by a Wisconsin police officer can be a disconcerting experience. If the officer asks the driver to exit the vehicle, there's a good chance it is because he or she is suspected of drunk driving. OWI charges carry potentially severe penalties that could include jail time. Many drivers wonder if they should refuse to take a Breathalyzer test when a police officer requests it.

Each state has its own regulations regarding implied consent rules. In Wisconsin, licensed drivers must submit to  a chemical test of their blood urine or breath upon request when a police officer has probable cause to suspect the driver in question was operating a vehicle while impaired. A driver who has been detained on suspicion of drunk driving may request legal representation at any time.

Perhaps, a particular driver lives in another state. If he or she drives in Wisconsin, then all traffic laws and safety regulations of this state apply. There may be administrative penalties for refusing to take an evidentiary breath, blood or urine test (as opposed to a roadside test). Such penalties in this state may include driver's license suspension and a mandatory ignition interlock device.

Many Wisconsin motorists believe they can avoid OWI charges if they refuse to submit to field sobriety or Breathalyzer tests. However, an arresting officer's personal observations and assessment of the incident, including issues that may have occurred before the traffic stop (such as saying that he or she witnessed your vehicle weaving) may also be offered against you in court. It is best to have clear understanding of implied consent laws before getting behind the wheel, and also good to know where to seek legal support if an arrest occurs that leads to formal criminal charges.

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