The state of Wisconsin provides for enhanced penalties (more jail time) if someone is convicted for a fourth time of a DUI offense. A Wisconsin judge was asked to decide whether a Wisconsin resident’s previous Illinois DUI and his Zero Tolerance (“ZT”) offenses should all be included in determining whether the Wisconsin DUI conviction he had received was his fourth offense for enhancement purposes.
Both sides seemed to agree that the previous Illinois DUI, even though it occurred in another state, would count. In Illinois, out-of-state DUI offenses would likewise be counted when Illinois has a hold that prevents someone from obtaining a license in another state. The real point of disagreement was whether the ZT tickets should count. As an Illinois driver’s license reinstatement lawyer, this writer does not believe that ZT offenses should be viewed as DUI convictions. The reason is that ZT offenses only apply to a driver under the age of 21 years. As a result, the State is nor required to prove that you were driving drunk. They simply have to show that there was any amount of alcohol in your system.
Therefore, if you refuse to take a breath test and the officer writes in his report that he smelled alcohol, you will receive a ZT ticket. If you take the test and register any level above 0.00, you will receive a ZT ticket. A ZT ticket is not proof of drunk driving and should not be counted.
If it is your first ZT offense and you take the breath test, your driver’s license will be suspended for 3 months. If it is your first ZT offense and you refuse to submit to testing, your driver’s license will be suspended for 6 months.
If you have had a previous ZT suspension and you take the test during the second arrest, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year; a refusal results in a two suspension for 2 years.
The judge in the Wisconsin case said that the ZT tickets counted. An appeals court disagreed. The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to hear the case but as of the time this Blawg was published, it had not reached a decision.