Arrested for drunk driving? Navigating the consequences and options.

Policeman checking car on street

Attorney Eric PangburnIn this article, Attorney Eric Pangburn discusses the potential repercussions that individuals may encounter when arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as the available options for those individuals.

In Wisconsin, first offense drunk driving is not a crime. Instead, it results in a citation, similar to a speeding ticket, but with much more serious consequences. These consequences include a fine that totals between $800 - $1100, a mandatory alcohol/drug assessment and follow up treatment classes, potentially an ignition interlock device, and, of most consequence to the majority of people, a 6 - 9 month driver’s license revocation. The most common questions asked by individuals charged with drunk driving are: Will I lose my license and Will I still be able to drive? The answer to both of these questions is yes.

The first thing that happens after a drunk driving arrest is a chemical test of your breath or blood to determine your blood alcohol level. If that test returns a result higher than the legal limit of 0.08, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) will initiate an administrative suspension process, which can result in a six month driver’s license suspension. This process is separate from any court proceedings and can even result in a license suspension prior to the first court date.

The suspension process is started by the service of a document titled Notice of Intent to Suspend Operating Privilege and a second document titled Administrative Review Request Form. If you provided a breath test at the time of your arrest, the police will provide both forms immediately. In that case, you have ten days to complete the Administrative Review Request Form and return it to the DOT. If a blood test is given, the Notice and Review Request forms will be mailed to you. In that case, you will have thirteen days from the notice date on the suspension notice to complete and return the review request form. Failure to return the form within the required ten or thirteen days will result in a six month license suspension.

If your license is suspended due to the administrative process, you are immediately eligible for an occupational license. This license will allow you to drive to certain places (grocery store, work, school, etc) for up to 12 hours on any given day and up to 60 hours maximum per week.

To obtain an occupational license, you will need to get SR-22 insurance and complete an application (DOT form MV3027). You will not need an ignition interlock device at this time.

Upon conviction for drunk driving, you will receive a license revocation of 6-9 months. Any time already spent on the administrative suspension, if there was one, will count toward the revocation. For a first offense drunk driving, you will be immediately eligible for an occupational license. For subsequent offenses, there will be a waiting period.

To obtain an occupational license following conviction and revocation, you will need to obtain SR-22 insurance, sign up for mandatory alcohol/drug classes, and complete the same application (MV3027). If your blood alcohol level was higher than 0.15, you may also need an ignition interlock device.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving, you need an attorney. It is important to act quickly, due to the short deadlines that often apply in a drunk driving case. Contact West & Dunn ‘s legal professionals today at 608-535-6420 or through our Contact Us page for a free consultation.

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