Concealed Carry & Alcohol Fines & Penalties in Wisconsin
Fines & Penalties for Firearm Possession While Intoxicated: What You Need to Know
Have you or a loved one obtained your concealed carry license since it became legal in Wisconsin? Has the same person recently been pulled over for an Operating While Intoxicated?
If the answer to yes is both, then there is a good chance they have also been charged with a crime for being in possession of that firearm while intoxicated, even if they were never touching it.
Under Wisconsin concealed carry laws, carrying a weapon while under the influence of alcohol or many narcotics is a crime. Sometimes this is referred to as "intoxicated possession of a firearm." The charge is “Endangering Safety by Use of a dangerous Weapon While Intoxicated” 941.20(1) (b).
941.20 Endangering safety by use of dangerous weapon.
(1) Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor:
(a) Endangers another's safety by the negligent operation or handling of a dangerous weapon.
(b) Operates or goes armed with a firearm while he or she is under the influence of an intoxicant.
(bm) Operates or goes armed with a firearm while he or she has a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in his or her blood. A defendant has a defense to any action under this paragraph that is based on the defendant allegedly having a detectable amount of methamphetamine, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in his or her blood, if he or she proves by a preponderance of the evidence that at the time of the incident or occurrence he or she had a valid prescription for methamphetamine or one of its metabolic precursors, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.
(c) Except as provided in sub. (1m), intentionally points a firearm at or toward another.
941.20(1)(d)(d) While on the lands of another discharges a firearm within 100 yards of any building devoted to human occupancy situated on and attached to the lands of another without the express permission of the owner or occupant of the building. “Building" as used in this paragraph does not include any tent, bus, truck, vehicle or similar portable unit.
Intoxicated possession of a firearm is a Class A misdemeanor in Wisconsin, punishable by:
- Up to nine months in jail
- Up to a $10,000 fine
- Or both
But even if you never touched your firearm how can they still charge you?
How Gun Charges Get Paired with Drunk Driving
Most people who are facing this charge were pulled over an arrested for a drunk driving. At some point during the interaction with the officer they probably were very polite and cooperative and told the officer they were a conceal carry holder and that their firearm was in the glove box, center console, or perhaps under the seat. As a reward for their honesty, they will likely be facing the new charge and that exposes them to jail time. The reason is because of Wisconsin’s “constructive possession” law. What constructive possession means is that even if you were never physically touching something, if you were aware of its presence and if it was within reach or “lunging distance” then that is legally the same effect as though you were touching it. As a result, even if you did not touch the firearm while you were intoxicated and had no intention of touching the firearm while intoxicated, you can still be charged as though you were in possession of the firearm while intoxicated.
Depending upon what county this happens in, there may be a very good chance that you will actually be convicted of the crime that will stay on your record for life and may actually serve jail time along with other penalties. Doesn't sound fair, does it?
Wisconsin Law and How It Plays Out
We are not here to defend how law enforcement and prosecutors around the state are choosing to exercise their discretion. However, different District Attorney’s Offices in the last few years have begun charging people criminally and seeking criminal convictions under these kinds of circumstances.
If you or someone you know is facing intoxicated possession of a firearm charge, then it is crucial that you hire a law firm that is familiar with handling exactly these kinds of cases. It is important to know what can and cannot be accomplished from a negotiation perspective as well as where the weak points in these cases usually are from a legal and factual perspective. We have fought gun cases before and have won jury trial cases and we have forced these cases to be dismissed as a result of illegal searches. Hire a law firm with a winning track record of success and knowledge.
OWI Charge + Concealed Carry Violation = Penalties
If you are drunk driving and get pulled over by the a state trooper or the Milwaukee police department, the charge in Wisconsin is called OWI. Many people still call it a DUI or DWI. If you are also carrying a gun in the glovebox and you tell the officer there is no gun, you might get charged with obstruction of justice. Whether this charge will stick is something you should consult a criminal defense lawyer for.
Disorderly Conduct (Armed with a Dangerous Weapon) Charges
Disorderlies can be somewhat of a catch-all charge. Whether you are within your rights as a concealed carry permit holder is something to ask about in your free initial consultation.