About 777,223 licensed drivers in Wisconsin had at least one OWI conviction at the end of 2021, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Not everyone who faces charges gets convicted, though.
If police stop you and charge you, it is important to ensure that the stop and officer conduct during it were legitimate.
1. Lack of probable cause
Law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to initiate a traffic stop. If police pulled you over without a valid reason, such as swerving, speeding or a broken light, the legitimacy of the stop may be questionable.
2. Absence of field sobriety tests
Field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand, are typical during OWI stops. If the officer did not conduct these tests or failed to follow proper procedures, it may raise concerns about the legitimacy of the stop.
3. Inadequate Miranda rights warning
If the arresting officer failed to provide a proper Miranda warning, informing you of your right to remain silent and have an attorney present during questioning, it could impact the legitimacy of the stop. Officers must adhere to legal protocols to protect the rights of individuals during arrests.
4. Faulty breath or blood test procedures
Breath and blood tests can determine blood alcohol content, but accurate results require proper equipment calibration and proper test administration. Correct handling is necessary, too. Any error in these areas can cast doubt on the legitimacy of the OWI charge.
5. Unlawful search and seizure
The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. If the officer conducted a search of your vehicle or person without a valid warrant or consent, the stop may be illegitimate.
6. Racial profiling or discrimination
If you believe that the traffic stop was more about racial profiling or discrimination rather than a legitimate traffic violation, it is necessary to address this concern. Unlawful stops based on race or ethnicity violate constitutional rights.
Facing an OWI charge is a serious matter, and it is important to assess the legitimacy of the traffic stop.