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Review of penalties for drunk driving in Wisconsin

Most Appleton residents probably know the basics of what could happen to them if they get convicted of a drunk driving charge, which is legally called in OWI in the state of Wisconsin. For example, they probably know that there will fines and a license suspension, and jail may even be on the table.

Even a first-time OWI offense with no aggravating circumstances can carry with it some significant penalties. While a lengthy stay in jail might not be a serious concern, a person can face a license revocation of up to nine months, as well as a mandatory $435 fee as well as the possibility of additional fines.

If a first-time offender happened to have over .15 BAC level, then he or she will also be ordered in to a special program to encourage sobriety or will have to use an expensive ignition interlock device for a year. The device must be programmed to shut down the vehicle if one's BAC is greater than .02.

A person in this situation is allowed to apply for a special license to drive to and from one's place of employment.

Aggravating circumstances can increase one's penalties for drunk driving. Having multiple OWIs, particularly within a few years of each other, can increase one's potential penalties to include a mandatory jail sentence and a license revocation of over a year. A person with repeat OWIs also may not be able apply for an occupational license until after serving at least 45 days of an absolute license suspension.

As one might guess, a lengthy stint in jail becomes a much stronger possibility if someone is accused of causing an injury or a fatality by driving drunk. This is so even if, prior to the accident, a person had no criminal history.

The bottom line is that just about anyone facing an OWI in Wisconsin should consider evaluating their legal options with the help of an experienced attorney.

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