Refusing a Chemical Test: “Implied Consent” Laws
Wisconsin OWI laws has “implied consent” laws that require vehicle drivers to submit to some form of chemical test, such as breath, blood, or urine testing, if suspected of OWI. State legislators make these laws based on the logic that driving is a privilege and by accepting that privilege drivers effectively give their consent to OWI testing if it is reasonable to believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Implied content laws also establish penalties if a driver refuses to submit to testing; these penalties may include mandatory revocation of a driver’s license, for a minimum of 1 year up to 3 years. Often, license sanctions for test refusal are more harsh than those imposed after OWI test failure.
Wisconsin “Per Se” Laws
Wisconsin law provides that any driver with a blood-alcohol concentration level about .08 is ‘per se intoxicated’, which means that if a driver has a BAC of .08, it is deemed that the driver is intoxicated and no additional proof of driving impairment is necessary for the officer to arrest and charge the driver with OWI.
A driver may be arrested for OWI without proof of ‘per se intoxication’ when other evidence of impaired driving is shown. For example, if a driver has a .06 BAC level, but was swerving or driving in an otherwise inappropriate manner and other evidence, such as slurred speech and inattention during questions were evident, an officer may arrest the driver on an OWI charge.
Wisconsin “Zero Tolerance” Laws
Wisconsin also provides a ‘zero tolerance’ law, which allows an officer to charge a person under the legal drinking age of 21 years with an OWI if the person was operating a vehicle and had any trace of alcohol in their system (BAC = 0.0).