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DUI or OWI stop may lead to additional criminal charges

Communities throughout Wisconsin often designate certain weekends and nights as DUI enforcement periods to crack down on suspected incidents of drunk driving. Such occurrences happen in and around Sheboygan as well as in larger cities in the state. Just recently a slew of drunk driving arrests were made in a nearby Wisconsin county. One suspected drunk driver now potentially faces criminal charges beyond those related to his underlying alcohol-related stop.

A 36-year-old Milwaukee man was stopped by law enforcement officials and charged with a first offense OWI but was also found to have a weapon in his possession. Authorities allegedly discovered a .40 caliber gun in his vehicle during the stop and now the man could face endangering the public charges as well as the OWI. Though he was stopped for one suspected crime, he may face charges for unrelated matters as well due to the police officers' discovery during his drunk driving evaluation.

This man's situation is a good reminder that when authorities make a stop based on suspicions of drunk driving, their investigations may reveal additional instances of suspected criminal conduct. A drunk driving stop may open the door to the discovery of other information; individuals may find that their privacy rights seem violated when they are asked to submit to drunk driving tests and scrutinized by law enforcement authorities.

Whether during a DUI crackdown or just on any average day, a police officer's suspicion that a driver is operating while intoxicated can subject that driver to careful inspection. Any other conduct that may be perceived as criminal during that stop may come under the evaluation of the stopping officer. A DUI stop may therefore become a much bigger legal situation if officers suspect evidence of other criminal activity is present outside of drunk driving.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Gun-packing driver among 5 arrested in OWI patrols on Milwaukee County highways," Don Behm, April 19, 2015

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