If you are facing a DUI charge in Wisconsin, you need to defend yourself by all means available. There are several ways to fight a DUI charge, and mounting a successful defense starts with understanding which defenses you can use based on the facts and circumstances of your case.
It also starts with understanding what “defenses” won’t actually protect you.
When you are at risk for a DUI conviction, mistakes can be costly. While there are several mistakes you need to avoid, one of the most dangerous mistakes you can make is saying something that prosecutors can use against you. Too often, we see people say things that they think will protect them, but that in reality only serve to help seal their conviction.
What Not to Say When Facing a DUI Charge in Wisconsin
What are some examples of the things you need to avoid saying when facing a DUI charge in Wisconsin? Here are 10 common “defenses” that not only won’t protect you, but that can also do more harm than good:
1. You Thought You Were Okay to Drive
When facing a DUI charge in Wisconsin, it doesn’t matter whether you intentionally broke the law. If you are under the influence “to a degree which renders [you] incapable of safely driving” or your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit, you can be found guilty of DUI. If you tell the police or the judge that you thought you were okay to drive, this can effectively amount to a confession that you got behind the wheel after drinking.
2. You Just Had One Beer, Shot, or Glass of Wine
While most people are aware of Wisconsin’s BAC limit (which is 0.08% for most drivers), far fewer people are aware that you can be charged with DUI even if your BAC is below the legal limit. This is based on the language in Wisconsin’s DUI statute quoted above. Even if you just have one beer, shot, or glass of wine, if this renders you “incapable of safely driving,” you can be convicted of DUI in Wisconsin.
3. You Were Only a Little Bit Buzzed
For this same reason, you should not tell the police or the judge that you were “only a little bit buzzed.” In Wisconsin, any evidence of alcohol impairment can be enough to justify a conviction.
4. You Thought You Waited Long Enough Before Driving
If you think you might be too drunk to drive, the right thing to do is wait until you are sober before getting behind the wheel. But, even if you try to do the right thing, you can still be convicted of DUI if you don’t wait long enough. This is similar to saying that you thought you were okay to drive. While it might seem like a sound defense, it simply isn’t.
5. You Didn’t Have Any Other Way to Get Home
When you are too drunk to drive, not having another way to get home is not an excuse for getting behind the wheel. If your designated driver left without you or your Uber driver never showed, the law says that you needed to find another way home.
6. You Weren’t Driving When the Police Approached Your Vehicle
There is a common misconception that you can’t be convicted if you aren’t driving when the police approach your vehicle. We’re not sure where this comes from, but it is dangerously incorrect. Even if you are parked when the police approach you, it is still very possible to face a DUI conviction.
7. You Weren’t Driving Dangerously
Another common misconception is that you can avoid a DUI conviction if you weren’t driving dangerously. In Wisconsin, you can be convicted of DUI if you are “incapable of safely driving” or your BAC is over the legal limit. Prosecutors do not need to prove both. So, even if you are fully capable of maintaining control of your vehicle, if you blow above the legal limit on the breathalyzer, this alone can be enough to establish your guilt in court.
8. The Police Stopped You for a Nonmoving Traffic Violation (Not for Drunk Driving)
When the police conduct a lawful traffic stop, they can pursue charges for any traffic violation or criminal offense for which they find probable cause to make an arrest. This means that even if a police officer pulled you over for a broken taillight, if the officer smelled alcohol on your breath after pulling you over, the officer acted appropriately in testing you for alcohol intoxication or impairment.
9. The Police Didn’t Read Your Miranda Rights
Under the U.S. Constitution, the police must read your rights before interrogating you in custody. However, police officers are not required to read your rights before they make an arrest on the side of the road. This means that if you confessed to drinking and driving before your arrest, your confession could be admissible even though the arresting officer hadn’t yet read your Miranda rights.
10. You’re Sorry and You Won’t Do It Again
In Wisconsin, being sorry isn’t enough to save you from a DUI conviction. If you admit to driving under the influence—even if you say that you will never do it again—you can expect to be convicted in court.
While none of these “defenses” will protect you, as we mentioned in the introduction, there are several ways to fight a DUI in Wisconsin. When you meet with a lawyer about your DUI case, your lawyer will examine all of the options you may have for beating your DUI charge. Before you say anything that could make it harder (if not impossible) to fight your DUI, you owe it to yourself to seek advice from an experienced defense lawyer.
Discuss Your Case with a DUI Defense Lawyer in Madison, WI
If you are facing a DUI charge in Wisconsin, we strongly encourage you to contact us before you say anything that could jeopardize your defense. To arrange a free and confidential consultation as soon as possible, call 608-257-0440 or send us a message online now.