Police departments in Wisconsin ramp up their DUI enforcement efforts during the holiday season. This is traditionally a time when more people drink and drive, and the night before Thanksgiving (often referred to as “Blackout Wednesday” and “Drinksgiving”) and New Year’s Eve are among the most dangerous nights of the year to drive.
If you get a DUI in Wisconsin during the holidays, you need to make smart decisions and be very careful to avoid unnecessary consequences. Here are ten important facts you need to know about facing a DUI charge in Wisconsin:
1. You Should Not Try to Handle Your Situation on Your Own
Facing a DUI charge is a challenging and high-risk situation—and it is not a situation you should try to handle on your own. Mistakes can be incredibly costly, and you could very easily get convicted even if you have defenses available. Rather than risking your finances, your reputation, your job, and even your freedom if you caused an accident or are a repeat offender, you should seek help from an experienced Madison DUI defense lawyer.
2. You Aren’t Guilty Until You Plead Guilty or Get Proven Guilty in Court
While defending against a DUI charge in Wisconsin is not easy, it is important to keep in mind that the government has the burden of proof. This means that you aren’t guilty until either: (i) you plead guilty or (ii) you are found guilty in court. If the government’s attorneys cannot prove that you were driving under the influence (or “operating while intoxicated”), then you cannot be convicted.
3. There are Several Defenses to a Wisconsin DUI Charge
There are several potential ways to defend against a Wisconsin DUI charge. One option is to argue that the government cannot meet its burden of proof. If the judge or jury is not convinced that the government has met its burden, the judge or jury cannot render a verdict in the government’s favor.
Other options for fighting your DUI charge include asserting defenses such as:
- Challenging your field sobriety test results
- Challenging your breathalyzer test result
- The “rising BAC” defense
- Providing an alternate explanation for your appearance or driving behavior
- Asserting your right to remain silent
4. Even if You Were Driving Drunk, You Could Have Defenses Available
While defending against a DUI charge may involve challenging the government’s evidence that you were drunk, there are also defenses that you may be able to assert even if you were drunk behind the wheel. For example, suppose the police did not have “reasonable suspicion” to pull you over or “probable cause” to arrest you. In that case, all of the government’s evidence against you may be inadmissible in court.
5. Defending Against a Wisconsin DUI Charge is Not Easy
To reiterate, while there are several potential defenses to a Wisconsin DUI charge, defending against a DUI charge is not easy. You need to know which defenses to assert, and you need to know how to assert them effectively. It would help if you were careful to avoid miscues throughout your case. As a result, it is extremely important to have an experienced Madison DUI defense lawyer on your side.
6. The Penalties for a DUI Conviction are Significant
A first-time DUI conviction carries hundreds of dollars in fines and fees in Wisconsin and a six or nine-month driver’s license suspension. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) were 0.15% or above, you would also be subject to mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device or participation in a 24/7 sobriety program for 12 months. If you are being charged as a repeat offender, you may be facing enhanced penalties.
7. A DUI Conviction Can Impact Your Life in Many Ways
In addition to statutory penalties, a DUI conviction can have a variety of other consequences. Your insurance rates will go up, you may find it difficult to land a job (or you may lose your current job), and you may face various other practical impacts as well. Over time, the total costs of a DUI conviction can easily climb into the thousands – or even tens of thousands – of dollars.
8. You Should Not Make Any Assumptions about Your DUI Case
Given what you have at stake and the defenses you may have available, you should not make any assumptions about your DUI case. You need to make sound decisions based on strategic legal advice, and you need to focus on doing everything you can to avoid a conviction if at all possible.
9. You May Be Eligible to Participate in a Diversion Program
Depending on the circumstances of your Wisconsin DUI case, you may be eligible to participate in one of the state’s diversion programs. If you are able to participate in (and successfully complete) one of these programs, you can avoid having a DUI conviction on your record. While completing a diversion program requires effort, the effort will be well worth it if it helps keep your record clean.
10. You Won’t Get a Free Pass Because It’s the Holiday Season
Finally, you cannot expect a free pass because it is the holiday season. Prosecutors and judges take DUI cases very seriously, and they will not simply let you walk away. While you might be tempted to ignore your situation until the holidays are over, this is a mistake you cannot afford to make. You need to take several steps to protect yourself, and this starts with talking to a lawyer about your case right away.
Get a Free Consultation with a Madison DUI Defense Lawyer 24/7
Did you get a DUI in Wisconsin during the holiday season? We can help, but you must contact us promptly. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Madison DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible, call 608-257-0440 or tell us how we can reach you online now.