Q. Why was I given two citations for one incident, an OWI and PAC, and what is the difference between
A: For most alleged intoxicated driving violations, the government is allowed to charge a
person with two citations, even though there has been only one offense. If the source of the alleged
intoxication is alcohol, then the two citations which are normally issued to the person are OWI
(Operating While under the Influence of an Intoxicant), and PAC (Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol
Concentration). This is because the two citations require different facts to be proven in order for the
person to be found guilty. For an OWI, the government must prove that the person was Under the
Influence of an Intoxicant while the person was operating their vehicle and proving this is not entirely
dependent on the person’s blood alcohol content, it is considered one piece of evidence along with any
other evidence the government has. For a PAC, the government must prove that the person’s blood
alcohol content was above the legal limit, or 0.08 or higher. A person can be found guilty on both, but
only legally punished for one. Regardless, if the person is found guilty of either charge, they will be
punished under the same OWI penalties and both offenses count as a prior OWI.
Q. What if the officer pulled me over, but I don’t think that I should have been pulled over?
A: If the officer was not legally justified in stopping your vehicle the court will not allow any of
the State’s evidence to come into court and the case can be dismissed. The prosecution must prove that
the officer had probable cause that you had violated the traffic code in some manner or that there was
enough facts supporting suspicion of an offense to justify the stop.
Q. What if I was arrested for OWI, but I don’t think that the officer should have made the arrest?
A: If an officer suspects that a person is intoxicated while driving their vehicle, he may choose
to administer field sobriety tests to that person. The officer will typically administer several different
dexterity tests of his choosing after which he may arrest that person for OWI. The person may perform
well on the field sobriety tests and the officer may still arrest that person. The officer may administer
field sobriety tests to a person incorrectly and still make an arrest. The reasons an officer made an
arrest can be challenged in court. If a court makes a finding that an officer should not have arrested
a person for an OWI, the court will rule that the State’s evidence is not valid and the case can then be
Q. Can I still challenge my case even though I have a blood or breath test 0.08 or higher?
A: Yes, you can still successfully challenge an OWI and PAC citation even though your
chemical test was 0.08 or more. There is a multitude of ways to challenge an OWI and PAC citation,
notwithstanding a chemical test result of 0.08 or more. The case can be challenged legally in regards to
the manner in which the police officers have gathered and maintained the evidence in the case, as the
police are not allowed to violate a person’s rights under the United States Constitution, the Wisconsin
Constitution or Wisconsin Statutes when conducting their investigation. The test result itself can also
be successfully challenged. Neither the blood testing process nor the breath testing processes are
infallible. Both processes are subject to error. Both processes can be challenged, and if challenged
successfully, can result in a dismissal or acquittal (not guilty verdict) of the case.
Q. What is the difference between OWI and DUI or DWI?
A: Driving while intoxicated takes on a number of different forms across the states in how it
is prosecuted. Wisconsin calls driving while intoxicated OWI while other states refer to it as DWI or
DUI. OWI in Wisconsin means Operating a motor vehicle While under the Influence of an intoxicant.
Other states refer to their driving while intoxicated law as DWI, which means Driving While under
the Influence of an intoxicant or DUI which means Driving Under the Influence of an intoxicant.
The significance in the difference is that in Wisconsin, a person can be prosecuted for driving while
intoxicated even though they haven’t driven the vehicle, as all the person needs to do is operate the
vehicle, or turn the vehicle on (physically manipulate the controls that activate the vehicle). In other
states that have DWI or DUI, the person must put the vehicle in motion, or drive it, in order to be
prosecuted under the DWI or DUI statute.
Q. What are the implications of refusing a breath, blood or urine test after I have been arrested for
A: A person that is arrested for OWI in Wisconsin will typically be read a form called Informing
the Accused and then asked whether they submit to a breath, blood or urine test in order to determine
the person’s blood alcohol content or whether the person has drugs in their system. If the person says
no, they will be deemed to have refused the chemical test. If the arresting officer determines that the
person is refusing the chemical test, then the officer can issue the person a Notice of Intent to Revoke
Operating Privileges. This is a major offense with stiff penalties. This revocation due to refusing the test
will cause the person’s operating privileges to be revoked for a minimum of 1 year (if the person has no
prior OWI’s or Refusal violations on their record the revocation will be one year, if there is a prior record
the revocation period could be significantly longer), the person’s vehicle will be subject to Ignition
Interlock Device (the tube placed in a person’s car they must blow into and register no alcohol to start
the vehicle and to keep it going as the person is driving), and the Refusal Violation counts as a prior OWI
offense on the person’s record meaning if the person is ever accused of OWI in the future, the Refusal
violation will be used to make it a second offense.
Q. If I said no to the chemical test, why did the arresting officer still administer a breath or blood test?
A: If a person in Wisconsin refuses the chemical test, the person may receive a Notice of Intent
to Revoke Operating Privileges for refusing the test and the arresting officer may then advise the person
that the officer is still going to take the person’s blood for a test, whether the person consents to the
test or not. Under current law, the officer does have the authority to force a blood draw to test for
blood alcohol, provided he has probable cause to believe that the person is driving while intoxicated and
the blood is drawn in a clean, sterile and safe environment.
Q. If I refused the chemical test and received a Notice of Intent to Revoke Operating Privileges, is there
any way to challenge this violation so I don’t receive the penalties?
A: Yes, a Refusal Violation can be successfully challenged in court. There a number of ways to
challenge a Refusal Violation. The reason the officer made the stop and whether the officer made
a valid arrest can be a successful challenge to the Refusal Violation in court. The manner in which
the officer read the Informing the Accused and issues that arose with the officer explaining the law
contained in the form can be a successful challenge to the Refusal Violation in court. Whether the person has any medical issues that could prevent the person from being able to submit to the test can
be a successful challenge to the Refusal Violation in court.