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What Are the Criminal Charges for OWI Resulting in Injury or Death?

 Posted on March 31, 2023 in Personal Injury

Many people in Wisconsin enjoy drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, this leads some to get behind the wheel after they have had too much to drink. The use of other substances, such as marijuana, prescription drugs, or illegal narcotics, can also impair a person's ability to drive safely. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense in Wisconsin, and it is referred to as Operating While Intoxicated or OWI.

For individuals who get behind the wheel while intoxicated and cause an accident resulting in injury or death, the consequences can be severe. A driver who caused a crash because they were intoxicated may face various criminal charges, and a conviction may result in multiple types of serious penalties, including jail time, large fines, the loss of a driver's license, and damage to their reputation and their ability to find a job in the future. By understanding the criminal charges a person may face if they drive drunk and cause an accident resulting in injury or death, Wisconsin residents can work with an attorney to determine their options in these situations.

Injury by Intoxicated Use of a Vehicle

Wisconsin prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle such as a car, truck, or motorcycle by anyone who has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, as well as anyone with an illegal or restricted controlled substance in their system or anyone who is under the influence of an intoxicating substance that has affected their ability to drive safely. While OWI on its own may result in a fine, license suspension, or misdemeanor charges, the penalties will increase significantly if a person causes great bodily harm to someone else because they were driving while intoxicated.

The offense of injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle may apply if a person was over the legal BAC limit, if they had any detectable amount of a controlled substance in their blood, or even if they had a BAC that was lower than the legal limit but was between .04 and .08 percent. "Great bodily harm" may include any injuries that put a person at risk of being killed, as well as injuries that result in permanent disfigurement. If an accident caused one or more people to suffer great bodily harm, a driver who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be charged with a Class F felony. If they are convicted, they may face a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Homicide by Intoxicated Use of a Vehicle

Even though a fatal accident was most likely not intentional, a person who caused this type of accident due to intoxication may face homicide charges. Causing the death of someone else, including an unborn child, through the operation of a vehicle while under the influence may result in Class D felony charges, and a person who is convicted could face a prison sentence of up to 25 years and a fine of up to $100,000. If a person had previously been convicted of OWI or another offense involving intoxicated driving, they may be charged with a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison and a maximum $100,000 fine.

Wisconsin law states that a person convicted of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle will be required to serve a bifurcated sentence that consists of a prison sentence followed by a period of community supervision or probation. The minimum term of a prison sentence is five years in most cases.

Additional Penalties

In addition to criminal charges, a person charged with OWI resulting in injury or death may also face civil lawsuits. Victims or their families can sue for damages related to medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. These lawsuits can result in significant financial consequences for the accused. A person may also face penalties such as license revocation, mandatory alcohol or drug treatment, and community service. The severity of these penalties will depend on the circumstances of the case and the individual's criminal history.

Contact Our Milwaukee OWI Injury Defense Lawyers

OWI resulting in injury or death is a serious offense in Wisconsin. It is important to understand the potential consequences you could face in these situations, and legal representation can be crucial if charges are filed. By working with an experienced Milwaukee, WI OWI attorney at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, you can work towards a favorable outcome to your case and determine whether you can avoid severe financial and criminal penalties. To learn more about how we can assist with these matters, contact us at 414-271-1440.





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