Updated on February 5th, 2024 at 08:51 pm

Updated on February 5th, 2024 at 08:51 pm

When you were arrested for drunk driving, you were charged with OWI (DUI and DWI in other states) and PAC. While you are familiar with OWI, you were left wondering, what does Operating with PAC mean in Wisconsin?

Operating with PAC (Prohibited Alcohol Concentration) is a charge based solely on your blood alcohol content. A PAC charge means you were caught operating a motor vehicle and your BAC was above the legal limit of .08.

Let’s take a closer look at the legal alcohol limits, how PAC compares to OWI in Wisconsin, and the potential consequences.

What is the legal BAC limit in Wisconsin?

According to Wisconsin drunk driving law, drivers over the age of 21 may not drive with a blood alcohol content greater than 0.08. There is a zero-tolerance limit for those under the age of 21. For commercial drivers, the BAC limit is set at 0.04.

Wisconsin’s legal BAC limit varies with subsequent offenses. 0.08% is for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd offenses. The legal limit for the 4th and subsequent charges is lower at 0.02% per 210 liters of breath per 100 milliliters of blood.

what does operating with pac mean in wisconsin

OWI with PAC

An OWI charge is based on a police officer’s observation that your consumption of alcohol or drugs impaired your ability to operate a motor vehicle. PAC charges focus solely on your blood alcohol concentration being above the legal limit. You can be found guilty on both charges, but you cannot be penalized for both.

A PAC charge requires a blood test, while an OWI doesn’t and can be given based on an officer’s observation. Remember that you can refuse to submit to field sobriety testing (unless you are a commercial driver), which can help your case.

If an officer determines you are drunk and cannot safely operate your vehicle, drivers in WI charged with OWI are also charged with PAC. The good news is that you can only be convicted for one, and the other charge is dismissed.

What are the penalties for PAC charges in Wisconsin?

The consequences for PAC and OWI charges are the same in WI. For the first PAC conviction, you may get a fine of up to $1000 and your license revoked for 6 to 9 months. You may need to install an ignition interlock device on your car and attend an alcohol treatment program.

The penalties become more severe if you are convicted of a second or third offense PAC charge. You may be required to spend time in jail, and your driver’s license may be suspended for a longer period.

Here’s a breakdown of the progression of PAC conviction consequences according to the repeat offense:

First PAC Offense:

  • A mandatory fine of around $1000
  • Surcharges of $365
  • Suspension of your driving license for 6-9 months
  • Restricted driving privileges through the Installation of an IID device for 1 year

In addition to the above, you may pay $200 as a suspension reinstatement fee when reapplying for a new license or occupational license.

Second PAC Offense:

  • Five days to 6 months in jail. The judge could double this range if you were caught with an underage passenger during the offense. You can also get 30 days of community service in place of the 5 days in jail
  • Mandatory fine of between $350 and $1,100, not including court costs
  • License suspension for 12-18 months
  • Installing an ignition interlock device for 1 year

Third PAC Offense:

  • 45 days to 12 months in jail
  • Mandatory fines of between $600 and $2000
  • A $435 driver improvement surcharge.
  • License suspension for 2 – 3 years
  • Installing an IID for 2 to 3 years or enrolling in a sobriety program

Fourth PAC Offense:

  • Mandatory fines of between $600 – 10,000
  • Jail term for 60 days to 6 years
  • Lifetime Driver’s License Revocation

Fifth PAC Offense:

  • Mandatory fine of between $600 and $25,000
  • 6 months to 10 years of jail time
  • Lifetime Driver’s License Revocation

These penalties are worse if there is a minor passenger in the vehicle or the blood alcohol levels are exceedingly above the legal limits.

Defending against PAC charges

If you are facing a prohibited alcohol concentration charge, you must contact an experienced attorney who can help you defend against the serious charges and the life-altering consequences that follow. Several defenses may be available to you, depending on the facts of your case.

An experienced attorney, such as Nathan J. Dineen, will know how to investigate the facts of your case and build you a solid defense. He will also handle plea bargains and agreements on your behalf.

Plea Bargain

We will approach the prosecutor with a plea bargain on your behalf if a conviction is inevitable. This could allow you to avoid a conviction on your record and keep you from facing the total penalties of the law.

Plea bargaining may require court-supervised rehabilitation, adhering to a sobriety program, or other conditions. It may not be possible if you do not qualify for court supervision or face a severe third or fourth offense.

FAQs for drunk driving in Wisconsin

How long does a DUI stay on my record?

A DUI will stay on your record forever. There is no chance to expunge the drunk driving conviction. When counting OWI convictions, WI looks back to January 1st, 1989.

See our existing article on the differences between DUI vs owi here.

Will OWI arrests or PAC arrests show up on a background check?

All arrests will appear on searches during background checks. Charges dismissed or ended in plea bargains, acquittals, or convictions will appear. Even arrests where charges weren’t filed will show up.

What is the difference between a DUI and a PAC?

You are charged with DUI if a law enforcement officer determines you cannot safely operate a vehicle, regardless of the BAC. However, PAC is concerned about the level of alcohol in your bloodstream being above the legal limits and not impaired driving.

What is the penalty for a 5th OWI?

A 5th OWI is a Felony resulting in 6 months to 10 years in prison, Lifetime license revocation, and $25,000 in fines.

Experienced Wisconsin OWI Attorney Nathan J Dineen

Nathan J. Dineen Attorney at Law, has been practicing OWI Law for over 12 years. Use his DUI defense experience to your advantage! Call Nate today if you have been charged with a PAC or OWI offense in Wisconsin.

Get in touch today!

  • Contact Information

  • Arrest Information

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.