Do I Have to Take a Breathalyzer Test in Wisconsin?

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You had a drink, left the party, and now see flashing police lights in your rearview mirror. In your panic, you wonder, “Do I have to take a breathalyzer test?”

The short answer to that question is no. The full answer to that question is that it is complicated.

Legal limits

In Wisconsin, it is illegal for a driver over 21 years of age to operate a motor vehicle with a blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC) or 0.08 or more. For drivers who have three or more Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) convictions, the BAC limit is .02 and for drivers younger than 21 years it is illegal to have any amount of alcohol in their system.

The breathalyzer test

If you are pulled over under the suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, the police officers can ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test to estimate your BAC. You breathe into the breathalyzer—a diagnostic device—and it measures how much alcohol is in the air you breathe out.

Implied consent in Wisconsin

Like many states, Wisconsin has an implied consent law which means that when you are driving, you agree to take a drug or alcohol test if there is reason to think that you are driving under the influence of alcohol. Even though you have already given your consent to testing, police officers cannot force you to breathe into the breathalyzer. But refusing has consequences.

Penalties for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test

There are penalties for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test in Wisconsin. The first time you refuse, you will lose your license for one year. For a second refusal, your license will be revoked for two years. For a third refusal, your license will be revoked for three years. And refusing a breathalyzer test can be used against you in court. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, contact a knowledgeable DUI attorney immediately.

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