Wisconsin has a pretty lenient reputation when it comes to drinking and driving. That reputation is based in truth, a scary truth that a first-offense OWI (operating while intoxicated) charge may only result in a traffic citation… or maybe a misdemeanor charge. But, all is not lost – if you are stopped for a suspected OWI, you may also face a Wisconsin PAC problem, too.
A Wisconsin PAC is another offense stacked on top of your OWI
PAC stands for “prohibited alcohol concentration” levels. Essentially, during your OWI investigation/traffic stop, you will be asked to supply a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) sample by law enforcement. If that BAC sample is above the legal limit of .08 percent, then you will be charged with an OWI and with a PAC. While that sounds like an “insult to injury” type of problem, the penalties for a Wisconsin PAC are the same as an OWI in the state.
A first-offense Wisconsin OWI means you’ll face:
- A misdemeanor charge.
- A penalty of a $300 fine.
- A suspended license.
- A driver improvement surcharge of $355.
With the PAC charge, you may as well double those consequences for a first-offense conviction, and add an alcohol assessment into the mix. In some cases, you could be required to install and maintain a car breathalyzer (ignition interlock), especially for high BAC or second/subsequent OWI or PAC offenses.
Knowledge is power, so understanding the difference between a Wisconsin PAC and OWI can be empowering. But the ultimate power is in your decision to never drive if you’ll be drinking and to plan for a safe ride home instead. Wisconsin may have lenient drunk driving laws, but the risk you become on the road should be enough to keep you out of trouble and harm’s way, every day.