Prohibited alcohol concentration carry the same penalties as OWI.  Contact our drunk driving attorneys for help.

When you’re charged with drunk driving in Wisconsin, you’ll typically see two charges: prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC) and operating while intoxicated (OWI).  The reason prosecutors go with two charges is simple: the PAC focuses on the fact that you operated a vehicle with blood alcohol content in excess of the limit, while the OWI focuses on somewhat subjective, “under the influence of an intoxicant” standard.  This might seem confusing, but it’s also completely normal.  If you’re convicted of drunk driving, it will be for only one of these offenses.

The drunk driving defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. regularly defend individuals facing PAC charges.  Whether it’s your first offense or your tenth, we’ve helped people in a position similar to yours.  We recognize the issues relevant to fighting your case with pre-trial motions and at trial.

Finally, the only way we can begin to help is if you reach out.  We don’t believe in creating additional anxiety in your life, so we offer free consultations.  During a free consultation we’ll have a chance to talk about your case and figure out the issues therein.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 to begin discussing your case.

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What is operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration?

Section 346.63(1)(b) of the Wisconsin Statues discusses operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration.  The law focuses on an individual who drives or operates a motor vehicle on a public highway while that person has a prohibited alcohol concentration.  Generally the prohibited alcohol concentration is .08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of that person’s breath, or 100 milliliters of that person’s blood.  The prohibited alcohol concentration is .02 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, or 100 milliliters of blood for certain individuals with prior alcohol-related convictions, suspensions, or revocations.

If the case proceeds to trial, the government needs to prove two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1) The defendant drove or operated a motor vehicle on a highway
2) The defendant had a prohibited alcohol concentration when he drove or operated on the highway.

A conviction can be based on driving the vehicle or operating the vehicle.  When a defendant is accused of driving the vehicle, drive means to exercise physical control over the speed and direction of the vehicle, while it is in motion.  When the defendant is accused of operating the vehicle the definition is different.  Operating refers to the physical manipulation or activation of any of the controls of the vehicle necessary to put it in motion.  Most often in Wisconsin prosecutors rely on “operating” – it is a broader definition that allows criminal charges based on a wider variety of conduct.  For example, if an individual is intoxicated and sleeping in her vehicle with the keys in the ignition, operating while intoxicated could be charged.  Driving while intoxicated could not.

It is important that you and your attorney understand the law surrounding this complex legal topic in order to provide you successful prohibited alcohol concentration defense.

What are the penalties for operating with a PAC?

The penalties for a PAC are the same as an OWI:

-A first offense PAC does not carry any jail/prison penalty.
-A second offense PAC penalty ranges from 5 days to 6 months in jail.
-A third offense PAC penalty ranges from 45 days to 1 year in jail.
-A fourth offense PAC (Class H felony) penalty ranges from 60 days in jail to 6 years in prison.
-A fifth or sixth offense PAC (Class G felony) penalty ranges from 1 to 6 years in prison.
-A seventh, eighth, or ninth PAC (Class F felony), penalty ranges from 3 years and 12.5 years.
-Finally, a tenth or subsequent PAC (Class E felony) penalty ranges from 4 and 15 years.

Recent changes in drunk driving law increased the penalty for a fifth offense.  While certain courts seem confused by the penalty structure, it’s simple.  The mandatory minimum penalty for this offense includes 1 year initial confinement in prison.  Unlike other drunk driving offenses, lawmakers created a higher presumptive minimum penalty, of 1.5 years initial confinement in prison.  If the court finds good reason to move down to the 1 year mandatory minimum, they can overcome the presumptive minimum.

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Prohibited alcohol concentration charges frequently accompany OWI charges. Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. immediately for drunk driving representation.

How can we win my PAC case?

Hiring a criminal defense attorney is the first step in winning your PAC case.  Individuals facing PAC charges often think they can hire any attorney for representation.  While any defense attorney can show up to court with you and say nice things about you, not all attorneys know the intricacies involved in drunk driving law.  Look up that attorney you’re about to hire on a website like  Make sure that attorney actually does drunk driving work.   Read client testimonials about that drunk driving lawyer.  And then decide who you’re going to hire.

We understand the issues involved in defending drunk driving cases.  We practice only drunk driving and criminal law.

How we defend your case depends on the facts.  Were you deviating from your designated lane?  Were you speeding?  Are there motion issues?  Are the police lying?  Or are the police exaggerating what’s going on?  All of these are issues that we will need to dig through in preparing your defense.  And that will allow us to figure out how to attack your case

I’m facing a 4th offense prohibited alcohol concentration – do I lose my driver license forever?

Legislators created a law in 2018 that increased driver license penalties for individuals convicted of 4th offense drunk driving charges (including both PAC and OWI).  Specifically, after a 4th offense conviction, the defendant receives a lifetime driver license revocation.

A few exemptions to this law exist.  First of all, if your prior offense (your PAC or OWI 3rd) occurred more than 15 years ago, this lifetime ban does not apply.  Importantly, this exemption only applies to the 4th offense.  If the defendant ever receives a 5th offense PAC or OWI, the lifetime ban applies.

Secondly, the “lifetime” ban allows for the driver to apply for a license after 10 years.  Specifically, the driver is eligible for reinstatement after that time period if:

  • The drive paid all required fines and fees;
  • The driver receives driving examination;
  • Driver had no OWIs or OWI-related charges over the last ten years; and
  • The driver completes an AODA assessment and completion of required programming.

Van Severen Law Office provides prohibited alcohol concentration defense

Not all criminal defense attorneys understand the complexities of drunk driving law.  Some might even have a difficult time explaining the difference between a prohibited alcohol concentration charge and an OWI.  You won’t find that at Van Severen Law Office, S.C., where we focus on providing individuals the best drunk driving defense in Wisconsin.  Of course, every case is different, and we’re prepared to address all of the different issues our clients face.

Hire a drunk driving specialist, and reach out to Van Severen Law Office, S.C. for a free consultation.  Reach us 24/7 at (414) 270-0202.

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