Not all criminal defense attorneys are drunk driving attorneys. While many criminal defense attorneys don’t like to advertise this fact, representing individuals with OWI or PAC charges requires specialized knowledge. From simple issues like appearing in municipal court rather than circuit court, to more complex issues like administrative suspensions and refusal hearings, drunk driving work takes extra knowledge. The drunk driving and criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office possess this knowledge. We’ve fought thousands of drunk driving cases, and we can certainly help defend yours. We’ve worked to understand exactly what it takes to defend cases just like yours.
Secondly, Wisconsin law prohibits operating while intoxicated (OWI). Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) are simply titles used in other jurisdictions for the same kind of offense, but are not criminal laws in Wisconsin. While this might sound confusing, these are simply different titles for the same offense. Sometimes you’ll see our website reference DUI and DWI, but that’s simply to help guide individuals facing Wisconsin OWI charges to the information they’re seeking.
Finally, if you face drunk driving charges, don’t hesitate to contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202. We recognize that OWIs happen frequently on nights and weekends, which is one of the reasons we answer calls 24/7. Let’s start fighting your case together – it’s never too early to call.
What penalties am I facing for a drunk driving conviction?
While we think it’s important to not get ahead of yourself, it’s important to understand the penalties involved if you’re convicted of a drunk driving offense. Here’s a list of the penalties associated with OWI charges:
1st offense operating while intoxicated: This is a non-criminal offense and cannot result in any jail or prison penalty. Instead you face a maximum penalty of a 6-9 month driver license revocation and a fine of $150.00 – $300.00 (plus various fees and surcharges).
2nd offense operating while intoxicated: A second offense drunk driving case is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by 5 days – 6 months in jail. Fines range from $350.00 – $1,100.00. A conviction for a 2nd offense includes a 12-18 month driver license suspension and an ignition interlock device requirement.
3rd offense operating while intoxicated: A third offense OWI is also a misdemeanor. Penalties include 45 days – 1 year in jail, $600.00 – $2,000.00 in fines, 2-3 year driver license revocation, and an ignition interlock device.
Fourth and subsequent OWI offenses are felonies:
4th offense operating while intoxicated: A fourth drunk driving charge is a Class H felony, punishable by 60 days – 6 years in prison and $600.00 – $10,000.00 in fines. You face a revocation of your driver license between 2-3 years, and an ignition interlock device requirement of 1-3 years. A conviction for a 4th offense OWI in Wisconsin also includes a lifetime driver license revocation.
5th offense operating while intoxicated, 6th offense operating while intoxicated: A 5th offense OWI includes a mandatory minimum penalty of 1 year in prison. Penalties for a 5th or 6th offense OWI start at the 1 year prison requirement and escalate all the way to 10 years in prison. You face $600.00 – $25,000.00 in fines, a 2-3 year driver license revocation, and 1-3 year ignition interlock device. OWI 5th and 6th offenses are Class G felonies.
7th offense operating while intoxicated, 8th offense operating while intoxicated, or 9th offense operating while intoxicated:
OWI 7, OWI 8, and OWI 9 penalties are the same. They’re Class F felonies and carry penalties ranging from 3 years in prison to 12.5 years in prison. You face up to $25,000.00 in fines, 2-3 years driver license revocation, and 1-3 year ignition interlock device.
10th or greater operating while intoxicated: Your tenth OWI offense and any subsequent charge all include the same potential penalties. An OWI 10th is a Class E felony, with penalties ranging between 3 – 12.5 years prison, 2-3 year driver license revocation, and 1-3 year ignition interlock device.
What if I have a child in the vehicle under 16 years old?
Unfortunately, a 1st offense committed with a child in the vehicle is no longer simply a ticket. Instead, the law treats the offense like a typical OWI 2nd charge. In other words, you face a mandatory minimum of 5 days in jail, with a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail. While this certainly sounds like a significant escalation, local prosecutors and lawmakers have made it clear that they consider this charge to be a lot more serious.
In especially aggravated cases, where the life of the child is put in danger, you face potential felony charges for a situation involving any passenger (including a child under 16), even if you have no prior OWI convictions. A 2nd degree recklessly endangering safety charge is only reserved for extreme cases, which include the defendant exposing the passenger to “criminally reckless conduct.” One requirement of criminally reckless conduct is that the defendant created a risk of death or great bodily harm to the passenger.
Drunk driving resulting in bodily harm
Sometimes drunk driving incidents result in car accidents, and unfortunately sometimes those accidents result in injuries to passengers and drivers of other vehicles. Causing harm or death to another while driving drunk is one of the biggest risks drunk driving presents. It’s also why lawmakers increased the penalties, as follows:
A first offense causing injury while OWI (with no prior OWI or causing injury charges) results in a mandatory minimum penalty of 30 days in jail. The maximum penalty is 1 year in jail. Driver license revocation is 1-2 years, ignition interlock device is 1-2 years.
A second offense causing injury while OWI (this is the offense if the driver has a prior OWI or causing injury charge) is a Class H felony, resulting in up to a 6 year prison penalty. While there is no required mandatory minimum penalty for this offense, it is unlikely any just will sentence you less than 30 days in jail.
How can a drunk driving attorney fight my OWI charges?
It’s important to remember that we offer free consultations. At that consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your case with one of our drunk driving lawyers. We’ll discuss your case, the facts of it, potential pre-trial motions, penalties, and answer any questions you have. This conversation allows us to discuss the specifics in your case, which is something we cannot do in a general website post like this one.
As we previously mentioned, pre-trial motions are one of the things we discuss at an initial consultation. But they’re also one of the most common ways for a drunk driving attorney to achieve a dismissal of OWI charges against a defendant. In simple terms, the cops need a reason to stop you. When that reason is not constitutionally sufficient, it’s possible that the rest of their investigation was tainted by that illegal stop. In certain circumstances, such a situation could result in a dismissal of charges against the defendant.
As a criminal defendant, you also maintain the right to proceed to jury trial (court trial if it’s an OWI 1st). During that trial, we’ll attempt to poke holes in the government’s story and argue that they haven’t satisfied their burden.
Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. immediately for OWI representation
At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., we aggressively defend individuals facing charges for drunk driving throughout Wisconsin. Typically these charges include OWI, OWI with a passenger under 16, OWI causing bodily harm, prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC), refusals, and moving violations. As we previously described, OWIs in Wisconsin are the same as DUIs and DWIs in other jurisdictions.
We’ve helped thousands of individuals in positions just like yours. We’ve filed motions, fought at trial, and achieved positive plea deals for clients, all depending on their specific goals. We’re confident that we can strive to meet your goals, too.
Finally, we offer free consultation to potential clients. Just contact us at (414) 270-0202 to get started.