Charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated can have serious consequences. This includes fines, jail time and loss of driving privileges.
Because the stakes are so high, understanding the defenses available is very important when navigating the legal system. Fortunately, there are many defenses that individuals facing OWI charges can explore.
Lack of probable cause
One defense against OWI charges involves challenging the initial traffic stop. Law enforcement must have a valid reason, or probable cause, to pull someone over. If the stop occurred without sufficient cause, it may be possible to argue that any subsequent evidence, such as a failed sobriety test, is inadmissible.
Inaccurate field sobriety tests
Law enforcement often uses a variety of field sobriety tests to assess a driver’s level of impairment. It is important to note that these tests are not foolproof and can be subject to human error. Challenging the accuracy of these tests, such as by questioning the conditions under which they took place or highlighting physical factors that may have affected the results, can be a valid defense.
Faulty breath test results
Breath test devices, which measure blood alcohol content, can also be prone to inaccuracies. Factors such as improper calibration or maintenance can lead to faulty readings. As a result, challenging the reliability of the breath test results can potentially mitigate OWI charges.
Rising BAC defense
The body takes time to absorb alcohol, and during this period, an individual’s blood alcohol level may continue to rise even after they have stopped drinking. This “rising BAC” phenomenon is an acceptable defense, arguing that the driver’s BAC was below the legal limit at the time of driving but exceeded it by the time of testing.
Certain medical conditions or medications can mimic the symptoms of impairment. Individuals with conditions such as diabetes or those taking specific medications may exhibit signs that are mistakenly associated with intoxication. Establishing a connection between a medical condition and the observed behavior can form a strong defense against OWI charges.
According to the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation, nearly 23,000 OWI convictions took place in 2022 alone. For those facing such charges, finding the right legal defense can significantly impact the outcome.