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Posted on in DUI / OWI

b2ap3_thumbnail_cw.JPGBy: Attorney Cameron Weitzner

Drunk driving is known to be very dangerous, and a driver who has been consuming alcohol or using other substances that impair their ability to operate a vehicle will be much more likely to become involved in a car accident and cause harm to others. Because of this, driving while intoxicated is illegal. Drivers who get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol may be stopped by police, arrested, and charged with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). While any OWI is a serious criminal charge, some cases may result in additional charges due to what are known as "aggravating factors." These issues may lead to a driver being charged with a felony offense, and they may potentially face over one year of imprisonment, as well as other consequences.

When Can OWI Be Charged as a Felony?

In the state of Wisconsin, a driver will usually not face felony charges for OWI unless they have multiple previous convictions. Felony charges for OWIs with three or more previous convictions include:

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Driving a vehicle after drinking alcohol is known to be dangerous, and drivers who have a certain level of alcohol in their system may be arrested for the offense of operating while intoxicated (OWI). However, some drivers may be uncertain about how the laws in Wisconsin address driving after using recreational drugs or other controlled substances. Are there certain levels of drugs that cause a person to be considered intoxicated? What about legal prescription drugs or other medications? Understanding how the laws address these issues can help a person avoid activities that could cause them to face criminal charges or other consequences that come with being arrested for OWI.

Wisconsin’s Definition of Impaired Driving

As is true in most other states, the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) in Wisconsin is .08 percent. A person will usually reach this BAC level after two or three alcoholic drinks. Even if they do not feel intoxicated or believe that they are safe to drive, they can face criminal charges if they are arrested and submit to a chemical BAC test that shows that they are over the legal limit. 

When it comes to other substances, the definition of intoxication is not always as clear. Different drugs can affect different people in different ways, especially if a person has built up a tolerance to a certain substance that requires them to use higher amounts of a drug before they experience a “high.” Because of this, measuring a person’s level of intoxication is not always easy.

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milwaukee owi lawyerBeing arrested for drunk driving can cause a number of difficulties in a person’s life. A conviction for charges of operating while intoxicated (OWI) can result in a number of penalties, including large fines and potential jail time. However, one other issue that can play a significant role in these cases is the loss of driving privileges. An OWI conviction will typically result in a driver’s license suspension, and in some cases, after a person regains their driving privileges, they may be required to use an ignition interlock device (IID) on any vehicles they drive.

An IID is a breathalyzer device that is installed in a vehicle. A driver will be required to provide a breath sample before driving, and the vehicle will not start if their blood alcohol content (BAC)  is above .02 percent. Depending on the circumstances of an OWI charge, an IID may be required, or a person may obtain an occupational driver’s license that will allow them to drive with an IID during a period of suspension.

When Is an IID Mandatory?

Wisconsin law states that a person will be required to use an IID if they refused to take a chemical blood alcohol test after being arrested on suspicion of OWI, if they are convicted of OWI for a second or subsequent time, or if they had a BAC of .15 percent or more.

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Milwaukee criminal defense law firmMilwaukee, WI multiple OWI attorneyBy Attorney Cameron Weitzner and Paralegal Rachel Sweet

Operating while intoxicated (OWI) is a serious criminal offense, regardless of whether you have a prior history of convictions. Consequences of an OWI conviction include fines, driver’s license revocation, and a lasting criminal record, even for first-time offenders. However, the consequences can become much more severe if you are facing OWI charges a second, third, or subsequent time. If you are arrested for OWI with a previous conviction on your record, it is crucial that you hire an attorney who can help you avoid the full extent of the penalties you may face.

Second OWI Offense Penalties Depend on the Timeframe

In Wisconsin, if your second alleged OWI offense comes more than 10 years after your first conviction, the potential penalties will likely be the same as if you had no prior conviction. Namely, you may face a fine of up to $300, a $435 OWI surcharge, and revocation of your driver’s license for up to nine months, but you are unlikely to be sentenced to any period of confinement or imprisonment. However, if the second offense comes within 10 years of the first, the possible penalties become more substantial. Fines can increase to up to $1,100, the license revocation period can increase to up to 18 months, and the sentence can include up to six months in prison.

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Milwaukee OWI injury attorneyBy Attorney Cameron Weitzner

In Wisconsin, drunk driving injures 3,000 people and claims the lives of 150 people every year. It is no surprise that Wisconsin law treats operating while intoxicated (OWI) as a serious criminal offense, regardless of whether it results in any injuries. However, if you are arrested on charges of injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle, the penalties can be especially severe, and it is important that you have an attorney who can help you protect your rights.

Possible Charges for Causing Injury While OWI in Wisconsin

Wisconsin courts typically show leniency to those who are convicted of OWI for the first time, with offenders often facing a relatively small fine and a shorter driver’s license revocation period, and avoiding jail time entirely. However, a first offender who causes even a minor injury to another person is much less likely to be granted this leniency. In these cases, possible penalties include fines between $300 and $2,000, jail time of 30 days to one year, and a revoked license for at least a year beyond the end of the imprisonment sentence. There is a steep increase in penalties for someone who causes injury while OWI with any previous OWI conviction on their record. This is considered a Class H felony, with fines up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to six years.

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