Drunk Driving & OWI Defense

EXPERIENCED madison drunk driving DEFENSE attorney

Learn more about OWI charges in Wisconsin:

Nationally-recognized Wisconsin OWI Defense Attorney Pat Stangl has been defending clients charged with drunk driving and other criminal charges since 1991.

Whether you're facing a first offense OWI or repeat drunk driving charges, make sure you contact an experienced and competent OWI lawyer with a strong record of success. 

If you've been arrested for OWI, DUI, DWI, BAC, PAC or other criminal charges in Wisconsin, Stangl Law can help.

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Understanding Wisconsin's Drunk Driving Charges

OWI is an acronym for “Operating [a Motor Vehicle] While Under the Influence of an Intoxicant” and is the official term used in Wisconsin for the more general term, “drunk driving” offense. The terms OWI, DUI, DWI, BAC, and PAC are synonymous and also apply to the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of a “controlled substance” or "intoxicant."

Attorney Stangl has a proven record of success defending Wisconsin OWI cases, including those with enhancements, as well as all types of criminal cases in both State and Federal Courts.

Receiving an Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) charge can be an intimidating, stressful experience with serious consequences. Both first-time offenders and repeat offenders face mandatory fines and penalties if convicted, and put their employment prospects, housing, and personal credit in jeopardy. Additionally, there are a host of related offenses that may also be implicated if you are charged with an OWI in Wisconsin.


Wisconsin's OWI Laws & Penalties

Under Wisconsin law, you may be considered to be operating while under the influence of an intoxicant if you are driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more, or are impaired as a result of ingesting controlled substances. However, even if you have a BAC that is under 0.08 percent, you may still be considered to be under the influence if your driving is observed by police to be affected by drugs or alcohol.

Wisconsin law prescribes penalties for OWI offenses which include, but are not limited to:

First Offense: Significant monetary fines and surcharges and driver's license revocation for up to 9 months. 

Second Offense: Possible jail time, significant monetary fines and surcharges, and mandatory driver’s license revocation for at least 9 months.

Third and Subsequent Offenses: Mandatory jail time, excessive fines and surcharges, and driver's license revocation for two or more years.

Click here to see penalties for Fourth Offense OWI and other repeat OWI offenses.


Implied Consent in Wisconsin

Wisconsin's implied consent statute requires drivers arrested for OWI to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample. If you refuse and the State satisfies its burden of proof, you face mandatory penalties. Law enforcement are required to inform you of all the penalties that you face regarding a refusal. If they fail to do so or do so improperly, you may have defenses to the refusal charge.


Attorney Pat Stangl's Approach to OWI Defense

Attorney Stangl’s philosophy regarding OWI defense is that, unless the State offers a plea agreement significantly better than the risk of losing in trial, there is no reason to plead guilty. Because Attorney Stangl believes that—unlike many other charges in State Court—victims of drunk driving [OWI, DUI, DWI, BAC, PAC] charges have little incentive to plead guilty, he prepares all drunk driving cases for trial.

This approach differs greatly from the vast majority of criminal defense attorneys who assume they cannot win your case and plead guilty. If you’re facing criminal or traffic charges in Wisconsin, schedule a free consultation with us from the Contact Us page right away.

Receiving an OWI, DUI, DWI, PAC, BAC DWI/DUI charge is a serious matter. Attorney Stangl uses a wide range of strategies to defend your OWI case, including: reviewing the case for defects, moving for the suppression of evidence, compelling discovery of such things as calibration and maintenance records for the breath machine, having blood samples independently analyzed, negotiating for a lesser charge or reduced sentence, obtaining expert witnesses for trial, contesting the administrative license suspension, winning trials and refusal hearings, and much more.


Attorney Stangl is a Trained Field Sobriety Test Expert

Attorney Stangl has undergone the same NHTSA-sponsored field sobriety test training as law enforcement––something very few OWI attorneys can legitimately claim. This training gives Attorney Stangl unique insight into how these tests are designed, where their weaknesses lie, and where law enforcement often makes mistakes when administering them. Attorney Stangl regularly leverages this expertise to uncover opportunities for defense for his clients and work toward successful outcomes.



Helping Clients Move Past Drunk Driving Charges

In addition to his winning record, awards and other honors, Attorney Stangl takes great satisfaction in taking the time to provide his clients with one-on-one attention to build a thorough defense as they fight to overcome challenges brought on by drunk driving charges and move on with their lives.

If you need a Madison OWI lawyer who is committed to fighting for you, Attorney Stangl is happy to offer a FREE 10-minute consultation to discuss your case and explore options for your defense.


Four Consecutive Jury Victories

For the fourth time in a row, a jury has refused to convict Attorney Stangl's client of Operating While Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (OWI). A St. Croix county jury sitting in Hudson, Wisconsin has found Attorney Stangl's client not guilty of OWI. His client was also charged with Operating With a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC). The above the legal limit or Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration charge (PAC) was dismissed by the trial court after the conclusion of the State's evidence on Attorney Stangl's motion. The court agreed there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction on the PAC charge because the State failed to produce expert testimony establishing the relevance of the blood test result given the fact it had not proven the time of the alleged operating/driving of the of his client's vehicle. The State's blood test evidence indicated the client's blood alcohol concentration was 3.5 times the legal limit. The jury was then left to decide the criminal OWI charge. After deliberating approximately an hour and 15 minutes, the jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict.

This case represents the fourth time in a row that Attorney Stangl's clients were cleared of both OWI and PAC charges, a total of 8 charges, in four consecutive jury trials.

If I'm stopped by a police officer and he asks if I've been drinking, what should I say?

You are not required to answer potentially incriminating questions. Politely say, “I would like to speak with an attorney before I answer any questions.”

This is an appropriate reply, although you are not entitled to counsel during a roadside stop unless you are in custody and questioned.

Saying that you had one or two beers is not incriminating, is not sufficient to cause intoxication, and may explain the odor of alcohol on the breath.

Why am I being charged with two crimes?

In Wisconsin, the traditional drunk driving offense is “operating under the influence of an intoxicant” (OWI). In recent years, however, 49 states have also enacted a second, so-called “per se” offense: driving with an excessive blood alcohol concentration (.08% in Wisconsin). In Wisconsin BOTH offenses are charged unless a person refuses the chemical test. However, forcible blood draws are permissible under certain circumstances in Wisconsin and can still result in a PAC charge even if you initially refuse.

Do I have a right to an attorney when I'm stopped for drunk driving and asked to take a field sobriety test?

The law varies on this issue from state to state. In Wisconsin, there is no right to an attorney until you have submitted to (or refused) blood, breath, or urine testing once you are in custody and subject to questioning.

Keep in mind, not only are you not legally required to submit to Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs), it can be in your best interest to refuse these tests, as your license cannot be revoked, nor can you be cited for a refusal if you politely refuse to do FSTs (unless you have a CDL).

Read Answers to More Stangl Law FAQs

If you're facing driving under the influence or DUI charges in Wisconsin, and would like to discuss your case with a proven Wisconsin DUI defense attorney, Contact Us today.



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I was referred to Pat by a friend after my case was mangled by a different attorney. My case was very complex both because of the errors my initial attorney made and the charges being brought against me – an OWI and Implied Consent Violation. Dismayed, I contacted Pat from my disadvantageous position in the hopes of having a fighting chance. From a professional standpoint, I couldn’t afford the reputational damage of a DUI. Although the nature of my case was very difficult, Pat decided to take over my case to try and help. With the intricate precision of surgeon, Pat picked up the fractured remains left over from my previous attorney and pieced together a cohesive and convincing argument winning a resounding victory! From the moment I met Pat I could tell he had a deliberate mindset and heart of a champion. He takes an emotional stake in his craft, clients, and reputation – a crucial characteristic in anyone entrusted with important life matters. I could not be more relieved and happy with his results and recommend him highly.

a former badger athlete
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If there's a way to win your OWI case in Wisconsin, Stangl Law will find it.
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