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What Can Cause OWI to Be Charged as a Felony in Wisconsin?

Posted on in DUI / OWI

Milwaukee drunk driving defense attorney for felony OWI chargesBy Attorney Brianna Meyer

Drunk driving is a serious matter in Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, more than 20,000 people are arrested for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) in Wisconsin every year, and hundreds of these offenders are under the age of 18. If you have ever been arrested or charged with offenses related to drunk driving, you are aware of the stress, expenditures, and consequences that can result. An OWI arrest can be even more serious if it is charged as a felony, and these types of charges may result in long prison sentences, steep fines, and the loss of your driving privileges for multiple years.

Felony OWI Charges

Whether your OWI charge is considered a felony is dependent on two factors:

  • How many times you have previously been charged with operating under the influence. A fourth OWI is a Class H felony, punishable by 60 days to six years in prison. A fifth or sixth OWI is a Class G felony, punishable by six months to 10 years in prison. A seventh, eighth or ninth OWI is a Class F felony, punishable by 3 to 12.5 years in prison. A tenth or subsequent OWI is a Class E felony, punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.
  • Whether your OWI resulted in an accident that caused bodily harm to others. Injury by intoxicated use of vehicle is a Class F felony. 

Other Consequences for a Felony OWI

If your OWI charge is classified as a felony, you may face a number of other penalties in addition to jail time, including:

  • Revocation of your driver’s license for two to three years in addition to the length of your prison sentence.
  • The requirement to perform community service, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or participate in one on one sessions with a counselor 
  • Fines of up to $10,000 for a Class H felony, $25,000 for a Class G or Class F felony, or $50,000 for a Class E felony. 
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device in any and all vehicles registered under your name for one to three years in addition to the length of your prison sentence.
  • Revocation of a professional license.

Fines and jail sentences will increase if a minor under the age of 16 was in the vehicle when you committed an OWI. If you are convicted, the OWI will appear on your permanent driving and criminal record for the rest of your life. You may also be required to pay higher insurance premiums, and you may face loss of employment because of the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license or occupational license.

Contact a Milwaukee, Wisconsin OWI Defense Attorney Today

If you have been charged with OWI in Wisconsin, the skilled attorneys of Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can help you understand your legal options, and we will work with you to minimize the potential consequences you may face. Contact a Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer today at 414-271-1440.

Sources: 

https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/safety/education/drunk-drv/ddarrests.aspx

https://wisconsindot.gov/Documents/safety/education/drunk-drv/owi-penchrt.pdf

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