Driving under the Influence of Drugs in Wisconsin

It is no secret that the state of Wisconsin has relatively harsh laws when it comes to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Less well known are the state laws regarding driving while under the influence of other substances. Alcohol may be the most prevalent intoxicant, but operating a vehicle under the influence of most drugs, including many prescription and over-the-counter drugs, can result in an Operating Under the Influence (OUI) conviction. When considering situations in which a driver may be charged, the single biggest factor is whether or not drivers are actually impaired.

What is impairment?

Legally, impairment is generally defined by criminal negligence or criminal recklessness. Both negligence and recklessness have to do with an individual engaging in behavior that "creates a substantial and unreasonable risk of death or great bodily harm to another." The defining difference between them is an awareness of the potential risks of their behavior. If an individual is unaware of the potential consequences of their actions, it is negligence. If they are aware, it is recklessness. These distinctions become more important when one considers the different types of substances that may cause intoxication and impairment and their relative functions.

What substances are considered illegal?

Under Wisconsin statute 346.63, a person cannot legally operate a vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicant insofar as it renders them impaired. This includes not only illegal substances, but also illegally high concentrations of legal substances like alcohol or prescription drugs. It should also be noted that you cannot operate a vehicle with any detectible amount of an illegal substance in your bloodstream. This is where the distinction between negligence and recklessness become more important because some people may be operating a vehicle under the influence of prescribed drugs without being aware of their impairment.

How is a DUID charge different from a DUI?

In practice, they are essentially the same. A DUID charge is treated as a more specific form of DUI. It is important to remember that by operating a vehicle in Wisconsin, you have also agreed to participate in any ordered drug tests. This includes blood tests which will generally pick up traces of any drug that may be lingering in your system.

Both DUID and DUI charges are very serious and will greatly impact many aspects of your future should you be convicted of them. As such, it is important to be aware of the laws regarding them and their consequences. Any further questions you may have regarding Wisconsin DUID laws and their potential impact on your life may be answered by an experienced legal professional.