Causing injury while OWI is a misdemeanor in Wisconsin.  Contact our drunk driving defense lawyers for help: (414) 270-0202

Although causing injury while OWI is only a misdemeanor in Wisconsin, the penalty scheme is aggressive, including mandatory minimum penalties.  And while normally a first offense OWI is not a crime and does not include a jail penalty, this crime is different.  The mandatory minimum sentence for causing injury while OWI is 30 days in jail for a first offense.  A second offense is a Class H felony, carrying up to 6 years in prison.

Importantly, this charge focuses on causing a basic injury.  More than that – specifically great bodily harm – is a separate crime called injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle.  That charge is a Class F felony, no matter the prior offense count.

Van Severen Law Office, S.C. is a Wisconsin criminal and drunk driving defense law firm.  We dedicate all of our resources and time to defending charges just like these.  Whether you’re charged with an OWI, causing injury while OWI, injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle, or any other drunk driving charge, we can help.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 to begin speaking with a criminal defense attorney and to schedule a free consultation.

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Section 346.63(2)(a) of the Wisconsin Statutes

Section 346.63(2)(a) of the Wisconsin statutes provides us the definition of this crime.  The law indicates:

(a) It is unlawful for any person to cause injury to another person by the operation of a vehicle while:
1. Under the influence of an intoxicant, a controlled substance, a controlled substance analog or any combination of an intoxicant, a controlled substance and a controlled substance analog, under the influence of any other drug to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving, or under the combined influence of an intoxicant and any other drug to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving; or
2. The person has a prohibited alcohol concentration.
3. The person has a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in his or her blood.
The only reason for the lengthy nature of the statute is that it includes being under the influence of alcohol, having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, operating while under the influence of a restricted controlled substance, or some combination thereof.  Any of these forms of intoxication count under the statute.  The only remaining question is whether the defendant caused bodily harm to the victim.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 2665 – Operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant and causing injury

Jury instructions exist in Wisconsin for the purpose of helping juries, courts, attorneys, and civilians to understand criminal charges.  They break offenses down into separate parts, or elements, that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt against the defendant.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 2665 defines operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant and causing injury:

  • Firstly, the defendant operated a vehicle on a highway.  Operate means the physical manipulation or activation of any of the controls of a vehicle necessary to put it in motion.  A highway means any public roadway.
  • Secondly, the defendant’s operation of a vehicle caused injury to the victim.  Cause means that the defendant’s operation of a vehicle was a substantial factor in producing the injury.
  • And finally, the defendant was under the influence of an intoxicant at the time the defendant operated a vehicle.

The instruction goes on to provide some important information:

Under the influence of an intoxicant” means that the defendant’s ability to operate a vehicle was impaired because of consumption of an alcoholic beverage.  Not every person who has consumed alcoholic beverages is “under the influence” as that term is used here. What must be established is that the person has consumed a sufficient amount of alcohol to cause the person to be less able to exercise the clear judgment and steady hand necessary to handle and control a vehicle.

Penalties for violating Section 346.64(2)(a) of the Wisconsin Statutes

The Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicle’s penalty chart describes the penalties for causing bodily harm while OWI.  Currently,

  • first offense is punishable by a fine ranging between $300.00 and $2,000.00, jail between 30 days and 1 year, and a driver license revocation and ignition interlock device requirement for between 1 and 2 years.
  • second or subsequent offense is a felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000.00, and an IID/DL suspension of 1-2 years.

No mandatory minimum penalty applies to a second offense, but it’s safe to say that most courts will sentence a defendant to at least the penalties described for a first offense.  While that’s certainly not a guaranteed answer, it’s a safe assumption to make.

How can a top drunk driving defense attorney help me win my case?

Analyzing the facts of your case and comparing them to the jury instructions is our starting point when defending any kind of criminal case.  Do the facts support the jury instructions?  Is there any wiggle room where we’d be able to show a reasonable doubt?  Typically, if the answers to these questions are in our favor, the first step will be a conversation with the prosecutor.  If that individual is remotely reasonable, and if we have a good basis to argue, charges against you could be dismissed.  If not, you maintain your right to a jury trial, where we could argue these facts (and others) and attempt to persuade a jury that there is indeed a reasonable doubt and the government has not satisfied its burden.

Frequently, criminal cases aren’t simply “trial” or “no trial.”  Instead, there’s work to do while a case is pending.  Did the police have a reason to stop your vehicle?  Was your vehicle found later after police executed a search warrant on a piece of your property?  Questions like these could lead to your drunk driving defense lawyer filing pre-trial motions that challenge the constitutionality of some police actions.  Some motions lead to the potential of a dismissal of charges against the defendant.  Others might simply make your defense stronger at trial.  Either way, they’re important to consider.

The police pull a car over for causing injury while OWI
Causing injury while operating while intoxicated is a serious criminal charge in Wisconsin. For help, contact some of Milwaukee’s best drunk driving attorneys at our firm: (414) 270-0202.

Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. immediately for help: (414) 270-0202

Hiring a top drunk Wisconsin drunk driving attorney to help fight your charges is important.  Defending individuals facing OWI charges requires knowledge in addition to what applies in “normal” criminal charges.  The loss of your driver license, ignition interlock device requirements, and how to re-obtain your driver license can be difficult questions for individuals not familiar with drunk driving law.  At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., we keep on top of these legal developments.  We can help.

Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 and schedule a free consultation with one of our drunk driving defense lawyers.

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