DUI / OWI (Drunk Driving) Stop in Wisconsin

What to do if you are stopped by the police and you have been drinking

Before talking to the police

  1. Look for a good place to pull over out of traffic and do so. Signal your turn, avoid the curb. If you can find a spot that is well-lit, that is better.
  2. Stay in your car unless invited out by the officer.
  3. Turn off the car and keep your hands on the steering wheel.
  4. Do not light up a cigarette or use breath spray.
  5. Get your drivers license out (and know where your registration is).

When police come up to car

  1. When asked produce your drivers license.
  2. Be polite.
  3. If asked about drinking decline to answer the question, politely. It is a crime to lie to a police officer.

If you are asked to step out of the car

  1. Step out. Close and lock your vehicle.
  2. If you have ever had a head injury or have any problems with standing on one foot or other balance problems, decline to do any "field sobriety tests."
  3. If you do the balance tests, do not do the "eye check." It is invalid "test" and police often do not do it properly anyway. You have the right to refuse to do any "field sobriety tests."
  4. If asked to blow in a breath machine by the side of the road, decline.
  5. Do not agree to a search of your vehicle. Do not have the police move your vehicle. If they tell you they will break the windows if you don't give them the keys, give them the keys.

If you are arrested for drunk driving

  1. When asked, agree to take a test of your breath or blood. If you do not do this, you will lose your drivers license, perhaps for longer than you would have even if convicted of the charge. Things will be worse if you do not agree. The police may well hold you down and take blood from you if you do not agree.
  2. After you have been advised of your rights, do not answer questions.
  3. Tell the officers that you want a second test. If they decline to give you one, ask if they can do that in writing.
  4. When you get home, make notes about what happened  from the time you got up until you were arrested. Who you were with, what you did, what you ate (and when) and drank and where you went. Talk to the people you were with, how did you seem to them?
  5. If the reason for the stop given was some equipment violation (tail light, license plate light, etc.) and you disagree or are unsure, document the condition of the equipment. Take pictures, get witnesses.
  6. Act within 10 days to preserve your license. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If you wait until court it will be too late for many things.



Warning - Use at your own risk.

This page is not intended to be legal advice or substitute for legal advice. It is intended to provide general information. Legal advice can only be given with a full understanding of the actual facts of a case, generally in a face-to-face consultation. Note that there are exceptions to many of the statements made here. My office does not give legal advice to non-clients over the phone or internet. Further, the law and procedures in drunk driving cases are changing rapidly. This page reflects laws and procedures in Wisconsin, on July 31, 2012.

See also:

DUI / OWI / DWI Wisconsin - How this office approaches DUI / OWI cases. The need for an assessment and / or treatment along with competent legal assistance is discussed.

DUI / OWI / DWI / Drunk Driving Court in Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin - procedure

DUI / OWI Treatment Court - an option that must be considered in Dane County for some third-offense cases

DUI / OWI Field Sobriety Tests in Wisconsin - A look at what "field sobriety tests" are - and are not - in Wisconsin.

DUI / OWI (Drunk Driving) Wisconsin Ten Day Warning - Why a defendant needs to take action before the court process even gets going.

DUI / OWI / Drunk Driving Math in Wisconsin - What Counts as a prior offense?

DUI / OWI / Drunk Driving with Prescription Drugs in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Judicial Sentencing Guidelines for OWI / DUI / Drunk Driving cases by County. Each judicial district has different guidelines.


Charles Kyle Kenyon - When Experience Matters

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Attorney at Law Scales of Justice - copyright 1995 - Madison Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer (attorney) Charles Kenyon
5555 Odana Road, Suite 211
Madison, WI  53719-1280

Telephone (608) 308-9645

Since 1979

Former (Elected) District Attorney
Former Assistant State Public Defender
Extensive jury trial experience in cases ranging from traffic to sexual assault / homicide
Thousands of criminal cases since 1979
Appeals in Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Supreme Court

J.D. University of Wisconsin Law School 1978 - winner of Abe Sigman prizeCovid19PlanForReopening2022-03.pdf
B.A. University of Wisconsin - Madison - Psychology - 1975
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Trainer / presenter / panelist for American Bar Association, National College of District Attorneys, Wisconsin Department of Justice, Wisconsin Public Defender
Certified to administer roadside Field Sobriety Tests in Wisconsin
Graduate Vehicular Homicide / DWI Program, Northwestern University Center for Public Safety
Past-President: Marinette County Bar Association, Door-Kewaunee Bar Association
Life Member: National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
Member: Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL)
Member: National College for DUI Defense
Member: DUI Defense Lawyers Association
Member: State Bar of Wisconsin, Dane County Bar Association
Admitted to practice: State of Wisconsin, Federal - Eastern District of Wisconsin, Western District of Wisconsin, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

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This page last revised: 20 Aug 2023 19:52:49 -0400 .

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