During a Wisconsin OWI investigation, the officer will likely ask the driver to take a breath or blood alcohol test to determine the amount of alcohol or drugs in the driver’s system. The driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or the concentration of drugs in the driver’s blood is often used to prove a DUI in court.
This article gives an overview of what Wisconsin law says about when a driver is required to submit to DUI chemical testing and the consequences of an unlawful refusal.
Wisconsin’s implied consent law specifies that any person who operates a vehicle within the state is deemed to have consented to a chemical test of blood, breath, or urine. After being placed under arrest for an OWI, a driver is required to submit to the officer’s requested test. If the driver refuses to comply, the driver will face the following penalties, and the officer can still apply for a warrant to forcibly obtain a blood sample.
License suspension. Refusal of a lawfully requested chemical test is not a criminal offense but will result in license revocation. A first test refusal will result in a one-year driver’s license revocation. A second refusal will result in a two-year revocation and a third refusal will result in a three-year revocation. All refusal occurrences within the last ten years are considered in calculating prior offenses.
Any driver who refuses testing while transporting a passenger under the age of 16 will have his or her revocation period doubled.
Restricted license. As with an OWI suspension, drivers with a revoked license for test refusal are eligible for a hardship license. This temporary restricted license permits driving only for certain purposes like work, school, and treatment and requires the use of an ignition interlock device (IID). Before being eligible for a hardship license, applicants must complete 30 days of suspension for a first offense, 90 days of the suspension for a second offense, and 120 days of the suspension for a third offense.
Evidentiary uses. While chemical test results are important in proving a DUI, the fact that a driver refused to submit to testing can actually be used against him or her at trial. Refusal doesn’t exactly prove intoxication, but prosecutors often argue a refusal is indicative that the person was trying to hide intoxication.