OWI 1st Charge Another charge. Another real RESULT.
Location: Waukesha, Wisconsin
I had a client facing an OWI 1st charge in Lake County Municipal Court. The case started in Municipal Court and eventually was appealed to the Waukesha County Circuit Court. In Municipal court we took the case to trial, as my client was found to be under the legal limit and had lost control of his vehicle on a patch of ice. The Judge, however, found that despite the fact my client was under the legal limit and that an Officer testified to ice being present on the roadway, he was impaired while he was driving. When facing an OWI in Wisconsin, you typically face two charges: 1. Operating While Impaired and 2. Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration. Because my client was under the legal limit he was only facing the OWI, not the Prohibited Alcohol Concentration.
You Are Only Guilty If You Are Convicted
In this case, my client was found guilty at the Municipal court. However, we appealed his case for two main reasons. First, we believed that if the case were before a Jury instead of only a judge, which is all you are entitled to at the municipal court level, the outcome might be different. Second, when questioning the officer who administered field sobriety tests he was unable to indicate what clues he was looking for or what constituted a failure on the test.
Following our appeal, I filed a motion on behalf of my client. The motion was to suppress the alcohol test results because they were close to the legal limit and the City Attorney would attempt to argue it was likely that my client was impaired at the time of the accident. The motion focused on the fact that the officer did not have probable cause to arrest my client. I argued that the officer lacked probable cause because in his testimony in municipal court he did not know what clues he was looking for, did not how many clues there could be, nor did he know how many clues it took to indicate impairment. There was no video in this case, so we had to rely on the officer’s testimony. I did, however, have a recording of the municipal trial. In my motion, I referred directly to sections of the testimony the officer had given.
As the motion date approached, the City Attorney reached out to me and offered to resolve the case with a non-OWI ticket. After discussing the case with my client, we decided that was in his best interests. He went from being convicted of an OWI offense, making any second offense a criminal offense for which he would face jail, to resolving the case with a simple ticket based on the motion we filed.