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Changes to OWI First Laws: A Possible Infringement on our Fourth Amendment Rights?

Changes to OWI Regulation
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Changes to OWI First Laws: A Possible Infringement on our Fourth Amendment Rights?

Senate Bill 29: An Act to amend 968.13 (1) (b), 968.13 (1) (c) and 968.23 of the statutes; Relating to: obtaining a search warrant for certain civil violations. In simple terms this Bill, which is now enacted into law, makes it so that you cannot refuse a blood test when pulled over for an OWI first. Under Wisconsin Law, an OWI-1st is only considered a civil ordinance violation, not a criminal offense. Prior to the enactment of this law, only criminal offenses, such as an OWI 2nd, 3rd, 4th… etc. had a mandatory submission to a blood alcohol test.

An OWI-1st is not a criminal offense, however under this Bill you cannot refuse a blood test. This may be considered controversial because it violates our Fourth Amendment Right, “Of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue”, per the United States Constitution.

Generally a warrant is only supposed to be issued for a crime. While this Bill was created to combat drunk driving, the ambiguous wording of the bill itself opens Pandora’s box. The Bill is written as “a search warrant for certain civil violations”, and does not explicitly limit it to use in an OWI-1st situation.

If authorities can override this civil ordinance, what is to stop them from using this power in other civil situations? Is this law beneficial to combat drunk driving or does it infringe upon our Fourth Amendment Right?

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