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What to Know About Field Sobriety Testing

By Carlos Gamino

When the police pull someone over for drunk driving in Wisconsin, they often ask the driver to take a field sobriety test. The field sobriety test gives the police a way to measure whether you appear to be drunk or under the influence of drugs – but it’s not as simple as walking in a straight line and getting back into your car. At the end of a sobriety test, you could find yourself in the back of a police cruiser. Here’s what you need to know.

Field Sobriety Testing: What You Need to Know

Before a police officer even asks you to take a field sobriety test, they’re watching and listening to you. When the officer asks for your license and registration, they’re keeping an eye on whether you’re fumbling, nervous, moving slowly or sloppily, and listening for signs of intoxication in your speech. If the officer suspects you’ve been drinking (after seeing your driving, that is), they’ll ask you to take a field sobriety test.

Police officers use field sobriety testing to determine whether you seem like you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are many things the police can do to gauge your sobriety, but some of the most common field sobriety tests include:

  • The nystagmus test
  • The one-leg test
  • The walk-and-turn test

Here’s a closer look at each.

The Nystagmus Test

The nystagmus test can signal that a person is intoxicated. During this test, the officer asks you to look at something (such as the tip of a pen or a small flashlight). The police officer will move the small object from side to side and asks you to watch it move. That’s because when a person is intoxicated, their gaze often becomes jerky. If yours is jerky, or if you can’t keep track of the object, the officer may think you’re drunk.

Related: Drunk driving charges

The One-Leg Test

Balancing on one leg can be tough when you’ve had too much to drink – and that’s exactly why police use this to gauge a person’s intoxication level. The police officer may ask you to stand on one leg for 30 seconds, and if you hop, flail your arms, or put your foot down once or twice, it may indicate that you’ve been drinking. (But just for the record, you’re not alone if you couldn’t balance for 30 seconds – especially if you’re nervous. Our team has a tough time balancing, too.)

Related: Felony drunk driving in Wisconsin

The Walk-and-Turn Test

Police officers know that intoxicated people tend to stumble, drag their feet or take choppy steps while walking regularly, so they put a twist on it for a field sobriety test: They often ask people to take a specific number of heel-to-toe steps, turn around in a specific way, and then take the same number of heel-to-toe steps on the way back. If you have a tough time balancing, lose count of the steps, pivot the wrong way or stumble, the officer may think you’ve had too many cocktails to drive.

Related: DUI causing injury or vehicular homicide

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Field Sobriety Testing and OWI?

If you were arrested for OWI with or without a field sobriety test, we may be able to help you get the best possible outcome in your case. Call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule your free consultation now – we can give you the advice (and peace of mind) you need.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2022-01-28T14:06:24-06:00April 18th, 2022|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on What to Know About Field Sobriety Testing

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

By Carlos Gamino

When you’re convicted of operating while intoxicated in Wisconsin, you may have to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. In fact, a significant number of people convicted of OWI in Wisconsin have to install these devices – so here’s what you need to know.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device is a device that requires you to blow into a mouthpiece to test your breath alcohol concentration before you can start your car. If the device – commonly called an IID – detects a concentration above 0.02 percent, your vehicle won’t start. If your alcohol concentration reaches that level after you start the vehicle, the device will activate your emergency lights and horn to draw attention to you.

Won’t You Lose Your Driving Privileges if You’re Convicted of OWI in Wisconsin?

You will lose your driving privileges if you’re convicted of OWI in Wisconsin, but after a certain amount of time has passed, you may be eligible to apply for an occupational license. An occupational license lets you drive to and from work or school, or to handle essential household activities. If the state allows you to have an occupational license, the condition of using it is that you must have an IID installed in the car you’re using. You must have an IID installed in every vehicle that’s registered or titled in your name before you apply for an occupational license (even if you only drive one vehicle).

If you choose not to apply for an occupational license and wait for your driving privileges to be restored, you’ll still have to have an IID installed for the amount of time that the judge in your case has ordered. In fact, judges are required to order IIDs for:

  • All first-time OWI offenders whose alcohol concentration was 1.5 percent or higher at the time of the crime
  • All repeat OWI offenders
  • All drivers who refuse to provide a breath or blood sample for a chemical test

How Much Does it Cost to Install an IID in Wisconsin?

Every installer charges a different amount for installation, monthly service and removal of the IID. You can shop around for the best prices, but generally speaking, it costs between $900 and $1,200 per year to keep an IID active on one vehicle.

Installation ranges from $45 to $150, depending on the type of ignition your vehicle has; monthly service fees are generally between $60 and $80, and removal is usually under $100.

Related: Do I need a lawyer for first-time OWI?

How Long Do You Have to Keep an IID on Your Vehicle?

You have to keep an IID on your vehicle for as long as the judge orders you to. You’ll have it for at least one year.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About OWI Charges and IIDs?

If you’re facing OWI charges, it’s in your best interest to get legal advice from a qualified professional. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now to schedule a free consultation now – we can give you the help you need.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2022-01-28T14:10:15-06:00April 17th, 2022|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

Wisconsin’s Legal Limits for Drinking and Driving

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people, you know that the legal limit for drinking and driving in Wisconsin is 0.08 – that means if your blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol concentration is 8 percent, you’re likely to be hauled off to jail and charged with operating while intoxicated, or OWI. But the law is a little more detailed than that, so here’s what you need to know.

Wisconsin’s legal limit for most people is 0.08. However, if you have three or more prior OWI convictions, your legal limit is 0.02. And if you’re under the age of 21, you have to be completely sober – any alcohol in your system can earn you an OWI charge.

Related: 3 ways to get an OWI dismissed in Wisconsin

Generally, your body weight and biological sex have a lot to do with how alcohol concentrates in your body. The following tables outline about how many drinks you can have in one hour; a drink is classified as one beer, one shot of alcohol, or one glass of wine. Keep in mind that a shot of tequila and a Long Island iced tea contain vastly different amounts of alcohol – and remember, these are estimates and not exact measurements.

Table 1: Alcohol Chart for Men

Bolded numbers are over the legal limit.

Body Weight1 drink2 drinks3 drinks4 drinks5 drinks6 drinks
120 lbs..031.063.094.125.156.188
130 lbs..029.058.087.116.145.174
140 lbs..027.054.080.107.134.161
150 lbs..025.050.075.100.125.151
160 lbs..023.047.070.094.117.141
170 lbs..022.045.066.088.110.132
180 lbs..021.042.063.083.104.125
190 lbs..020.040.059.079.099.119
200 lbs..019.038.056.075.094.113
210 lbs..018.036.053.071.090.107
220 lbs..017.034.051.068.085.102

Table 2: Alcohol Chart for Women

Bolded numbers are over the legal limit.

Body Weight1 drink2 drinks3 drinks4 drinks5 drinks6 drinks
90 lbs..053.106.159.212.265.318
100 lbs..047.094.141.188.235.282
110 lbs..042.084.126.168.210.252
120 lbs..038.076.114.152.190.228
130 lbs..036.072.108.144.180.216
140 lbs..033.066.099.132.165.198
150 lbs..031.062.093.124.155.186
160 lbs..028.056.084.112.140.168
170 lbs..027.054.081.108.135.162
180 lbs..026.052.078.104.130.156

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About OWI Charges?

If you’ve been accused of operating while intoxicated, we may be able to help you. Call our office as soon as you can – we’re at 414-383-6700. You can schedule your free consultation with an experienced professional to get the legal advice you need.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2022-01-28T13:37:55-06:00April 4th, 2022|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Wisconsin’s Legal Limits for Drinking and Driving

Is Speeding a Criminal Offense in Wisconsin?

By Carlos Gamino

Everyone knows that speeding is against Wisconsin law, but is it the kind of crime that can put you behind bars? This guide explains the differences between traffic infractions and criminal offenses so you know what you’re up against on the roads.

Is Speeding a Criminal Offense in Wisconsin?

Speeding is a crime – nobody will argue that. You can be convicted of speeding, just like you could any criminal offense. However, it’s a different kind of crime. It’s considered a forfeiture offense, which means that it’s punishable by a fine rather than jail or prison time. In contrast, criminal offenses are punishable by jail or prison time. Though judges can impose fines on people who are convicted of criminal offenses – and sometimes do, in lieu of jail or prison – the fact is that criminal offenses give judges the option of putting you behind bars.

When you’re convicted of a traffic offense like speeding (or failing to stop at a stop sign, turning without a signal, or operating your vehicle without a working tail light), you get “points” on your driving record. The more points you have, the closer you are to losing your driving privileges. The point system is designed to punish drivers for doing the wrong thing by taking away their driver’s licenses when they continue to commit traffic infractions.

Related: Criminal traffic offenses in Wisconsin

What Are the Speeding Categories in Wisconsin?

Speeding earns you points on your driving record. Generally, points can stay on your record for 5 years from the date you’re convicted of a driving offense. Here’s the basic breakdown:

  • Speeding between 1 and 10 miles per hour over the limit gets you 3 points.
  • Speeding between 11 and 19 miles per hour over the limit gets you 4 points.
  • Speeding over 20 miles per hour over the limit gets you 6 points.
  • Speeding 25 miles per hour or more over the limit in a 55-mile-per-hour zone or more earns you 6 points and a 15-day driver’s license suspension

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will suspend your license if you receive 12 points in a 12-month period.

However, you can fight traffic tickets – and it’s possible to win. If you fight and win, you won’t pay fines for the ticket or accrue points on your driving record.

Related: Criminal driving and traffic violations

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Speeding Violations?

If you’ve received a speeding ticket, whether or not you’re in immediate danger of losing your driver’s license, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your free consultation with an experienced professional who can give you the advice you need.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2022-01-28T13:12:33-06:00December 17th, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Is Speeding a Criminal Offense in Wisconsin?

What to Do if You Get an OWI This Holiday Season

By Carlos Gamino.

Getting pulled over for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (commonly called OWI) is scary – you’re on the spot, a police officer is likely shining a light in your face and asking you questions, and you don’t know what’s going to happen next. For many people, the best possible thing to do in this situation is to be quiet and request a phone call to an attorney. Here’s what you need to know.

What to Do if You Get an OWI This Holiday Season

First things first: An OWI usually starts with a person being pulled over and asked to take a Breathalyzer (or similar) test, or to complete field sobriety tests (such as walking in a straight line or following an officer’s pen light with your eyes).

Related: OWI vs. DUI in Wisconsin

If the police officer who pulled you over believes that you were driving under the influence, they’ll arrest you on the spot. You’ll go to jail, where you may be subjected to chemical testing to determine how much alcohol is in your bloodstream. Whether you remain in jail or bail yourself out, you’ll likely get an appearance before the judge. At your first appearance, you’ll be formally charged with the crime of OWI.

You can – and should – bring an attorney with you to your first court appearance. Your attorney can begin developing the best possible defense strategy for you right away, as well as help you decide whether you’ll plead guilty, not guilty or no contest to the charges. At your first hearing, your lawyer will be there to look out for you, protect your rights and enter your plea. Then, your attorney will continue developing a defense strategy until your next court appearance. Your lawyer will use a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome – that’s an attorney’s job.

Related: OWI first offense in Wisconsin

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About a Holiday OWI?

Whether you were charged with OWI during the holidays or any other time, we may be able to help you. Call 414-383-6700 to get answers to all your questions during a free case review. Our team can give you the guidance you need and help ensure that you get the best possible outcome in your case.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2022-01-28T13:19:41-06:00December 4th, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on What to Do if You Get an OWI This Holiday Season

What Happens if You Get a DUI Around the Holidays?

By Carlos Gamino. Click here for audio version.

The holidays are right around the corner, and for many people in Wisconsin, that means DUI charges are coming. But what happens if you get a DUI during the holidays – will you go to court sometime next year, or will you spend Thanksgiving or Christmas locked in a cell? This guide explains.

What Happens if You Get a DUI Around the Holidays?

Getting a DUI during the holidays is the same as it is any other time of year; you’ll be facing harsh criminal penalties and could end up spending time behind bars. That can really throw a wrench in your holiday plans, so here’s what you need to know.

Going to Court During the Holidays

In Wisconsin, the courts are typically open and hearing cases Monday through Friday during normal business hours – and that means if you’re caught driving under the influence on a Friday night, you’ll likely have to wait until Monday morning (or later) to see a judge. You could spend the entire weekend in jail.

Holiday hours vary quite a bit for Wisconsin courts, though (the circuit courts’ schedules are listed here). Many are closed on Veterans Day, which falls on a Thursday, and all of them are closed on Thanksgiving Day; many are also closed the next day (Friday, November 27), as well. Courts are closed on December 24 (a Friday) as well as Thursday, December 31 and Friday, January 1. That means if you’re arrested for drunk driving and kept in jail, you won’t see a judge until the next business day. For example, if you’re arrested for DUI on Wednesday, December 30, you won’t see a judge until after the court opens on Monday, January 3.

What if You’re Caught at a DUI Checkpoint in Wisconsin?

The police in Wisconsin can’t set up DUI checkpoints at specific locations, but they can – and do – put out patrols at times they believe a significant number of drunk drivers will be on the roads. The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office has “Operation Drive Sober,” for example, which puts extra officers on the roads from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning to look for signs of impaired driving. Often, police departments all over the state do the same on holidays, sending out extra patrols to find and arrest drunk drivers.

What Should You Do if You’re Arrested for DUI on a Holiday?

The first thing you should do if you’re arrested for DUI on a holiday is get in touch with a Wisconsin drunk driving attorney. Your attorney can help determine whether you have to remain in jail until you see a judge – and then your lawyer can represent you when it’s your turn in court.

Do You Need to Talk to a DUI Lawyer in Wisconsin?

If you or someone you care about has been arrested for DUI in Wisconsin, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation now; we’ll ask you some questions and make a plan of action that gets you the best possible outcome.Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-11-23T11:34:34-06:00November 16th, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on What Happens if You Get a DUI Around the Holidays?

DUI Homicide in Wisconsin

By Carlos Gamino. Click here for audio version.

In Wisconsin, it’s illegal to operate a vehicle while you’re intoxicated. Formally, the state can charge you with the crime of operating while intoxicated, or OWI. In other states (and in everyday conversation), that’s called driving under the influence, or DUI. When you’re operating a vehicle while intoxicated and someone dies as a result of your actions, you could end up being charged with homicide – and a conviction can mean prison time. Here’s what you need to know.

What Happens if You’re Charged With a DUI Homicide in Wisconsin?

You can be charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle if you’re involved in a fatal accident involving alcohol. If you were driving and caused an accident with a prohibited blood alcohol concentration at the time of the incident (it’s currently 0.08 unless you’re under the age of 21 or you have one or more previous OWI convictions) and someone dies as a result, you can expect to be charged.

The prosecutor will try to prove that you were under the influence by bringing in evidence such as your breath test, a blood or urine test, and evidence that the officer collected at the scene of the accident.

Related: What are your rights when you’re in police custody?

DUI homicide is a Class D felony. That means the criminal penalty is up to 15 years in prison and up to 10 years of extended supervision. The judge in your case may also order you to pay fines of up to $100,000.

However, if you have a previous alcohol-related conviction, you may be looking at a Class C felony. The penalty for a Class C felony is up to 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision (as well as fines of up to $100,000.)

What Should You Do if You’re Charged With DUI Homicide in Wisconsin?

If you’re charged with DUI homicide in Wisconsin, you may want to talk to a Wisconsin OWI attorney right away. We may be able to help you, so call us for a free DUI/OWI consultation – we’re at 414-383-6700. We’ll evaluate your case and give you the legal advice you need right now, and we can develop a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-11-23T11:51:36-06:00September 30th, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on DUI Homicide in Wisconsin

Is a Traffic Ticket a Criminal Offense in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

Most traffic tickets are not criminal offenses in Wisconsin, and the good news is that minor traffic offenses are generally treated differently than more serious violations of the law. However, some traffic offenses are crimes, so here’s what you need to know.

The Most Common Traffic Tickets in Wisconsin

Some of the most common traffic infractions in Wisconsin include:

  • Speeding
  • Rolling through a stop sign
  • Failing to use your blinker
  • Failing to yield to pedestrians
  • Operating a vehicle without proper lighting
  • Not wearing a seatbelt

For these civil traffic violations, police typically issue the driver a traffic ticket — a form the officer completes and gives to a motorist or pedestrian on the spot. Police officers generally give tickets after they observe or believe that a person has committed a traffic violation. Tickets contain information on how the driver can respond by mailing in the form and a check for the fine, paying the fine online, or challenging the ticket and appearing in court. 

What Are the Penalties for Traffic Tickets?

Wisconsin operates on a demerit system, which means if you get a certain number of points (in Wisconsin, it’s 12), the state can suspend your driving privileges.

That doesn’t mean you just rack up points, though. You generally have to pay a fine – and the fine depends on the severity of your offense. For example, if you’re driving 40 miles per hour in a 35-mile-per-hour zone, your fine will be lower than it would if you were driving 50 miles per hour in the same zone.

If your insurance company finds out that you’ve received a ticket, your insurance premiums may go up. (That doesn’t have anything to do with civil penalties, but it is something you should know about.)

What Traffic Tickets Are Criminal Offenses?

First things first: If you drive knowing your driver’s license is suspended, it’s a criminal offense.

Other criminal offenses related to driving include drunk driving and reckless driving, as well as:

If you’re accused of any of those crimes, you’ll have to go to court and plead guilty or not guilty. If you’re convicted, you may face criminal sentencing (including a trip to jail or prison). It’s probably in your best interest to work with a Wisconsin traffic defense attorney if your situation results in criminal charges.

Related: 3 things you need to know about vehicular homicide in Wisconsin

Traffic Trials vs. Criminal Trials

With most traffic violations, a fine is the worst that can happen; jail isn’t usually among the possible penalties, and license suspension is typically on the table only if the driver has multiple recent traffic convictions. However, drivers accused of committing a misdemeanor or felony criminal offense face the possibility of jail time.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About a Criminal Traffic Offense?

If you’ve been accused of a criminal traffic offense, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now for a free consultation with an experienced, knowledgeable defense attorney. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you get the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-08-08T14:25:11-05:00June 29th, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Is a Traffic Ticket a Criminal Offense in Wisconsin?

What Happens if You Leave the Scene of an Accident?

By Carlos Gamino

In Wisconsin, it can be a crime to leave the scene of an accident – and it can be so serious that you end up in prison over it. So what really happens when you leave the scene of an accident?

Will You Get in Trouble if You Leave the Scene of an Accident?

If you operate a motor vehicle and are involved in a crash, you’re legally obligated to stay put. That means stopping your car immediately (as soon as it’s reasonably safe) and not going anywhere else. With that said, you don’t have to come to a dead stop in the middle of a busy expressway. However, you do have to pull off to the side, where it’s safer, right away.

You can be charged with hit and run if you leave the scene of an accident – and that’s a serious crime.

Hit and Run Charges in Wisconsin

If you are involved in a car accident, you’re legally required to stop and exchange information (including your name, address and your car’s vehicle registration number) with the other party. If the other party requests it, you’re supposed to show your driver’s license, as well. If anyone is injured, you also have to provide “reasonable assistance,” which can include taking that person to get medical help or making arrangements for an ambulance.

The state can convict you of hit and run if you:

  • Knew you were in an accident
  • The accident resulted in damage to a vehicle or injury or death to a person
  • You did not immediately (or almost immediately) stop your vehicle and stay at the scene

What Are the Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident depend on the outcome of the accident. For example, if nobody was hurt, the penalty can be a 6-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. However, if someone dies and you flee the scene of an accident, you’re looking at a Class D felony – and that’s significant time in prison.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

If you’ve been accused of leaving the scene of an accident, we may be able to help you. Call us to schedule a free consultation – we’re available at 414-383-6700. We’ll ask you some questions about your situation and answer your questions, as well, and if we can work together, we’ll start developing a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T22:06:58-05:00May 2nd, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on What Happens if You Leave the Scene of an Accident?

Can You Challenge Field Sobriety Testing?

By Carlos Gamino

Field sobriety tests are extremely common during drunk driving stops. It’s not unusual for a police officer to say, “Could you step out of the car, please?” when he or she suspects a person of driving under the influence – but how accurate are field sobriety tests, and is it possible to challenge them in court?

Related: OWI vs. DUI in Wisconsin

Can You Challenge Field Sobriety Testing?

You and your attorney can absolutely challenge field sobriety testing. Your attorney may challenge based on your physical condition, age, weight or even your driving experience; he or she might also discuss the conditions on the roadside, the police officer’s experience in conducting these types of tests, and whether you were ill or wearing contact lenses at the time of your field sobriety test.

The bottom line is that these types of tests contain questionable methods – methods that may not tell a police officer whether you’re drunk or sober. For example, people pulled over for drunk driving may be asked to:

  • Stand on one foot while counting
  • Walk along an imaginary line
  • Touch one finger to the tip of their nose slowly
  • Recite the alphabet or count backward
  • Follow a pen or a light that a police officer holds in front of their face (this is called a nystagmus test)

How many of those things can you do under normal circumstances? How many of them can you do if you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure because you know that if you mess up, you’re going to jail – even if you haven’t had a drop to drink? The reality is that there are many reasons people struggle with each of these “tests.”

Related: First offense OWI in Wisconsin

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Challenging a Field Sobriety Test?

Many attorneys look for ways to challenge field sobriety tests because they don’t accurately predict how “drunk” a person is. If you were arrested for drinking and driving after taking a field sobriety test, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now – we will be happy to answer your questions about OWI charges and develop a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T09:24:39-05:00April 11th, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Can You Challenge Field Sobriety Testing?

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