When I received a citation for driving while intoxicated, I received another citation for Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (or “PAC”).  What does this mean?

As a result of driving under the influence in the State of Wisconsin, a person may receive one citation for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), and another citation for Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC).

“Operating While Intoxicated” (OWI) is a violation of Wisconsin Statute § 346.63(1)(a), which states:

(1) No person may drive or operate a motor vehicle while:

(a) Under the influence of an intoxicant, a controlled substance, a controlled substance analog or any combination of an intoxicant, a controlled substance analog, under the influence of any other drug to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving, or under the combined influence of an intoxicant and any other drug to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving.

If you are cited for OWI, this means that the police officer had probable cause to believe you were driving while under the influence of any of the substances stated above in subsection (a) (or any combination thereof).  Under this statute, a driver in Wisconsin cannot be impaired by any substance to a degree rendering him or her incapable of safely driving.  Therefore, a person can be cited for OWI even if the officer did not suspect him or her of drinking alcohol.  Further, to convict and find a driver guilty of OWI, the State does not need to provide any evidence regarding the driver’s blood alcohol level.

If an officer does believe that a driver is under the influence of an intoxicant, the officer will request that he or she submit to a breath test or blood test.  In Wisconsin, an operator’s blood alcohol level must be below 0.08 g/100mL.  Again, even if your blood alcohol level is under 0.08 g/100mL, you may still be cited for OWI if the officer believed you were impaired by the intoxicant to a degree rendering you incapable of safely driving.

If a driver’s blood alcohol level is equal to or above 0.08 g/100mL, the driver may be cited with Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC).  This is a separate citation and charge for a different violation of the Wisconsin Statutes.  The Wisconsin Statute violated is § 346.63(1)(b), which states:

(1) No person may drive or operate a motor vehicle while:

(b) The person has a prohibited alcohol concentration.

Any blood alcohol level equal to or above 0.08 g/100mL is a prohibited alcohol concentration.  A PAC charge is therefore only related to the level of alcohol in the driver’s blood based upon the breath and/or blood test.  A PAC charge is not related to the driver’s level of impairment.  To convict and find a driver guilty of operating with a PAC, the State does not need to provide any evidence regarding the driver’s impairment.

Lastly, a driver can be convicted and found guilty of both an OWI charge and a PAC charge.  However, a person cannot be punished, or sentenced, for both an OWI and a PAC charge.