A Wisconsin man was arrested twice in about two and a half hours for driving under the influence according to Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin Public Safety. What’s more, he’s only 18 years old.
18-year-old Preston Bierhals was on his way home from a graduation party last week when he lost control of his vehicle and struck a light pole. Bierhals told responding officers that he was trying to make a phone call when he lost control of his car.
His blood alcohol content was later determined to be 0.157 percent.
At the time, Bierhals’s license was suspended.
“The legal limit for him is zero, but he was still above the 0.08, he was over 0.10 actually both times,” said Capt. Jody Crocker.
Bierhals was booked for “operating while intoxicated” (OWI), which is the Wisconsin equivalent of California’s “driving under the influence” (DUI).
Instead of keeping Bierhals to sober up, officers released him to someone who signed a Responsibility Agreement not to allow him to drive a vehicle.
“They signed an affidavit that says to us that they will take that responsibility in lieu of this person sitting in jail for the next 12 hours. Here of course, that didn’t work,” said Capt. Crocker.
Why didn’t it work? Well, because less than three hours later, an officer working traffic detail for a triathlon that morning spotted Bierhals driving and recognized him from the arrest just hours prior.
The officer stopped Bierhals once again and administered field sobriety tests to which Bierhals failed again. And again he was arrested on suspicion of OWI.
This time, Bierhals’s blood alcohol content was a 0.121. This is consistent with the average rate of alcohol metabolism (burn-off) of 0.015 percent per hour, assuming no more alcohol was consumed since the first arrest.
In Wisconsin, prosecutors cannot file charges for a second drunk driving offense until the citation Bierhals received for the first OWI is resolved.
According to Capt. Crocker, law enforcement is looking into whether charges should be filed against the person whom Bierhals was released to.
Some of you may be thinking, “What could happen to someone like that?”
Well, here in California a minor who is caught driving with alcohol in their system can face several charges and penalties.
California Vehicle Code section 23136 makes it illegal for a minor to have a blood alcohol content of 0.01 percent or greater while driving. This is knowns as California’s “Zero Tolerance” law for underage drivers. Under this law, a minor faces a one-year suspension of their driver’s license.
California Vehicle Code section 23140 makes it illegal for a minor to have a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent or greater while driving. Unlike section 23136, this section is an infraction which can result in fines of up to $100 and a one-year suspension of their driver’s license.
However, in Bierhals’s case, had it occurred here in California, prosecutors would have likely charged him with the standard adult DUI under California Vehicle Code section 23152 (driving under the influence and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater). A violation of section 23152 is a misdemeanor which carries a three to nine month DUI program, three years of summary probation, up to $1000 in fines, up to six months in jail, and a six-month suspension of driving privileges.
Of course, Bierhals is facing the penalties for a second-time DUI as well. A second time DUI, here in California will also be charged as a misdemeanor, but this time, he’s facing between 96 hours and one year in jail, an 18-month DUI program, and two-year suspension of driving privileges.