Did you know that Wisconsin’s impaired driving laws recently changed? Governor Scott Walker signed Act 371 into law, which aims to combat drunk driving in the state. The law enhances penalties for impaired operation — specifically in relation to repeat drunk driving offenses.

A fourth conviction is now a felony

The most critical revision to impaired driving laws concerns one’s fourth drunk driving conviction. A fourth offense is now a felony — regardless of when the last or third conviction was committed. Previously, a fourth conviction for impaired operation was only a felony if it occurred within five years of the third conviction (otherwise, it was a misdemeanor). This means that if your third conviction for drunk driving was over 10 years ago, a fourth conviction will be a felony on your record — no matter what.

The law also removes the review period for individuals on their fourth offense. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to obtain a limited occupational license. In addition, penalties for repeat offenders are significantly higher.

If you have been arrested on suspicion of a fourth drunk driving offense, you now face up to three years behind bars. Moreover, if a person is convicted for a fifth or sixth time, the punishment is now up to five years in prison.

Facing another drunk driving charge?

If you have struggled with impaired driving, know that you are not alone. However, as you face subsequent or repeat charges, understand that the ramifications have now increased. To learn more about the evolution of these laws, as well as how they may affect your specific case, speak with a Wisconsin criminal law attorney. If possible, you should do whatever you can to avoid a subsequent conviction.