What Constitutes “Driving” for Purposes of an OWI?

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In order to be charged with Operating While Intoxicated (“OWI”), an individual must have driven a vehicle.  So how do the laws of Wisconsin define “driving”?


Where the vehicle’s keys are in the ignition and the vehicle is running, the law treats this as driving.  Even where an officer does not see an individual putting the car in motion (what your common sense would tell you is “driving”), that individual may still be charged with an OWI even if they are not in the vehicle.


Oftentimes clients will tell us that they did not think they would be charged with an OWI because they were not caught driving the vehicle.  The problem is how they are defining the act of “driving.” Wisconsin does not require evidence of a foot on the gas pedal or that the car was moving to charge an individual with OWI.


Remember, a jury must believe the story of what happened prior to the arresting officer appearing on the scene and making the stop.

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