Not many Sheboygan residents like going to the doctor, and likely even fewer enjoy getting shots. Needles can be scary, painful tools used on individuals for the purposes of administering drugs or vaccinations or for drawing out blood for testing. Doctors' offices and laboratories are not the only places, however, that individuals may encounter needles. Some individuals may be subjected to blood draws by needle while they are in the custody of law enforcement officials for suspected drunk driving.
Last week's blog post looked at the efficacy of private breathalyzers for personal use. While those devices may give Wisconsin drivers a chance to assess their sobriety before driving, the results of a self-administered test will not be factored into an officer's decision to arrest a person for allegedly driving drunk. A variety of tests can be used to determine a driver's level of intoxication and those blood alcohol tests can be run on a driver's hair, breath, blood, urine or saliva.
Previous posts on this blog have discussed how the state of Wisconsin has looked at various ways to change and potentially toughen the state's drunk driving laws. Citizens on both sides of the debate have weighed in; at this time no major changes are immediately on the horizon for local drivers. However, one drunk driving law that some citizens may not be aware of is currently in operation and can have serious consequences for a person's ability to drive.
Wisconsin drivers who have been stopped for suspected drunk driving may have been subjected to breathalyzer testing by their investigating officers. Others may have been required to give blood to determine their blood alcohol content. Both breathalyzer and blood tests give authorities evidence of a driver's BAC which is used to determine if they were driving above or below the state's legal limit.
Drivers in Sheboygan who are stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of DWI might not be aware of the law of implied consent, which says they are required to submit to a breath test if asked to do so. Even if no alcohol has been consumed or the driver has not surpassed the legal amount, there can still be charges filed for breath test refusal. Committing test refusal carries with it penalties and the law applies to everyone including public officials and members of law enforcement.
As it currently stands, Wisconsin law allows police officers to take blood from people suspected of drunk driving without first obtaining the suspect's permission or a search warrant from a judge. That is not how all other states handle such matters. A 2013 decision from the United States Supreme Court may change how Wisconsin law enforcement officials address this type of situation.