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K&L Blog

Marijuana Law Reform: Wisconsin Lawmakers Urged to 'Get with the Times'

Since the governor signed a bill in April, use of cannabis oil to treat seizures is now legal in Wisconsin. However, possessing other forms of marijuana remains illegal at the state level, and people arrested for marijuana possession can face serious consequences, including jail time, fines and a criminal record.

If you have been charged with any kind of drug offense in Wisconsin, the first thing you should do is begin mounting your best defense.

Ignition Interlock Devices Are on the Rise in Wisconsin

Ignition interlock devices -- otherwise known as IIDs -- are increasingly part of the penalties for drunk driving convictions in Wisconsin and nationwide. In addition to preventing you from operating your vehicle if alcohol is detected on your breath, installation of an IID adds a significant cost to an OWI conviction.

In Wisconsin, if you are convicted of OWI for the first time with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or higher, the law requires you to install an IID in your vehicle. IIDs are also required for any subsequent offenses.

3 Proposed Bills Would Increase Penalties for Drunk Driving in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin legislature is considering three bills that would increase penalties for people convicted of drunk driving.

A quick breakdown of the proposed legislation:

  • One bill would establish a five-year minimum prison sentence for individuals convicted of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Currently, there is no minimum sentence for this offense.
  • The second bill would raise the minimum prison sentence for fifth and sixth OWI convictions from six months to 18 months.
  • And the third bill would prohibit all drivers convicted of OWI from driving any vehicle -- not just their own -- without an ignition interlock device.

Wisconsin Lawmakers Push for Legalization of Medical Marijuana

"We're not criminals. We no longer want to live in the shadows of society."

Those are the words of a Gulf War veteran who recently spoke at a Capitol news conference in Madison. He was referring to his use of marijuana to treat his back pain and PTSD. He said that, compared with the many drugs prescribed to him over the years, cannabis has been the most effective in treating his symptoms.

Many Unsure about Wisconsin's Patchwork of Marijuana Laws

Many people are under the impression that possessing a small amount of marijuana is no longer a crime in Wisconsin. But in reality, it's easy to run afoul of Wisconsin's marijuana laws, and what you don't know can hurt you.

Is possession of marijuana legal in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules on OWI Stop in Private Parking Garage

The area around a person's home, in legal terms, is called the curtilage. This area is constitutionally protected from warrantless search and seizure. For example, a police officer would generally need a warrant to enter and search your yard, your private garage or another area around your home where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The question of what constitutes curtilage is a recurring issue in criminal law, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently ruled on the matter in a Waukesha OWI case.

Wisconsin Supreme Court: Police Can Stop You for Littering, Arrest You for OWI

What gives a police officer the right to stop your vehicle? Basically, the officer must have reason to suspect that a violation has been committed, but what constitutes reasonable suspicion is not always clear.

For example, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently ruled on a case involving a man who was cited for first-offense drunk driving after one of his passengers flicked a cigarette butt out of the car window.

Wisconsin Cities Decriminalize Marijuana, But State Law Remains Tough

Cities across Wisconsin, including Waukesha and Milwaukee, have adopted municipal ordinances that decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Those cities still impose fines for simple possession, however, with the amount of the fine varying from city to city.

For example, you can be fined $50 for a minor marijuana violation in Milwaukee, while Green Bay imposes a maximum fine of $1,000.

60 Percent of Searched Drivers Believe Search Was Illegitimate

Each year in Wisconsin and throughout the country, people find themselves facing drug charges after being searched by police during traffic stops. In fact, a survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 3.5 percent of drivers who were pulled over said they or their vehicles were searched by police.

Of those searched drivers, more than 40 percent said that police did not ask for permission to search, and more than 61 percent of the drivers said they believed the search was illegitimate. 

Can Lawful Driving Be Grounds for a Traffic Stop?

In criminal defense, when we talk about "reasonable suspicion of criminal activity," we're talking about just that: reason to think that a crime has been committed. In the context of traffic stops, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over.

The criminal defense attorneys of Kim & LaVoy, S.C., regularly defend clients accused of drunk driving in Wisconsin. In these cases, we often find that what a police officer claims is reasonable suspicion is not reasonable in the eyes of the law.

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Brookfield, WI 53005

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