Drunk driving charges are addressed differently depending on the state in which you are charged. In Wisconsin, these charges are referred to as OWI offenses. Penalties for OWI offenses can be severe depending on the circumstances of your arrest, so it is essential to consult with skilled legal counsel to help minimize these negative outcomes.
Throughout the United States, OWI convictions are commonly referred to as DUIs – Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicant. Wisconsin statutes refer to these chargers with the acronym OWI – Operating A Vehicle While Intoxicated.
Unlike some DUI convictions, you may be subject to an OWI arrest even if the vehicle you are operating is not moving. This distinction is part of the reason why Wisconsin uses the OWI acronym instead of DUI. This subtle difference means that you could face drunk driving penalties even if you were parked or stopped at a light.
A related charge – Operating With a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC) – often accompanies OWI and applies to any test result being over .08. For defendants with three prior OWI/PAC convictions, the legal limit is .02.
Drunk Driving Penalties in Wisconsin
Drunk driving consequences vary depending on your BAC and the number of prior OWI offenses. Because penalties escalate with each repeat offense, it is important to hire a skilled OWI attorney that can help get your charges reduced or even dropped the very first time you are arrested. The degrees of OWI penalties in Wisconsin are as follows:
First time OWI offenders may face fines of $150 to $300. If convicted, your license may be suspended for 6 to 9 months.
Second time OWI offenders may face fines of $300 to $1100. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, you may also be ordered to spend between 5 days to 6 months in jail. Second time offenders will also have their license suspended for 12 to 18 months.
Third time OWI offenders may face up to $2000 in fines and spend up to 12 months in jail.
Penalties are higher for Aggravated OWI charges, which are pursued by the prosecution on the basis of:
BAC was 0.15 or higher at the time of your arrest
BAC was over the legal limit and you caused injury or death
Multiple previous OWI convictions
A minor was a passenger in the vehicle while BAC was above the legal limit
OWI offenses will also stay on your driving record, which will cause your insurance rates to increase. You may also be ordered to complete community service hours and/or take Drunk Driving or Alcohol Awareness classes at the judge’s discretion in addition to criminal penalties such as jail time and fines.
Accused of an OWI or DUI in Wisconsin? An experienced OWI Attorney will protect your rights and fight to see that your charges are reduced or even dropped.