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What happens during an OWI traffic stop?

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2023 | DUI Questions |

When a police officer in Wisconsin pulls a driver over because they suspect that they are intoxicated, the officer may be very direct in addressing their concerns. They have training that can help them spot signs of intoxication, although it is easy to mistake anxiety and certain medical issues for signs of impairment.

Motorists who don’t know how to properly navigate a traffic stop may act in a way that increases their likelihood of an arrest. Operating while intoxicated (OWI) charges can lead to jail time, expensive fines and a lengthy driver’s license suspension. Every aspect of the interaction can potentially help the police officer develop their claim that the driver was drunk at the wheel.

What can motorists expect during an OWI traffic stop?

Questions about their recent activity

Officers may begin the conversation by indicating they noticed something unusual about how someone operated their vehicle. On the other hand, they may ask if the person understands why they initiated the traffic stop or may inquire about what someone did just before getting in their vehicle. The goal is to both get people to make statements that may implicate themselves and to evaluate their speech and appearance for signs of alcohol intoxication. If someone’s answers or behavior increases an officer’s suspicions, they may then have to exit the vehicle.

The performance of field sobriety tests

Police officers will ask people to perform field sobriety tests when there seems to be an indication of chemical impairment. Having someone stand on one leg, walk in a straight line or follow an object with their eyes but not their heads can help officers screen for physical warning signs of intoxication. Field sobriety tests can be a form of evidence during a criminal trial and can also create the probable cause that an officer needs to request a chemical test.

The administration of chemical tests

Officers who have a reason to believe that someone has had too much to drink can ask them to perform a chemical breath test. Anyone whose test results show that they are at or over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) based on their license type will face arrest and prosecution.

Police officers often start gathering evidence that they intend to use against the defendant in criminal court from the first moments they approach a vehicle. Understanding how police officers develop OWI cases may benefit someone to make informed and respectfully (and lawfully) defensive decisions during a traffic stop.