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OWI 3rd charges are serious – contact the drunk driving attorneys at Meyer Van Severen immediately.

OWI 3rd charges are serious.  You’ve already received some jail time for your second-offense drunk driving charge.  Your third offense carries even more significant penalties.  For example, where the minimum punishment for an OWI 2nd is 5 days jail, that penalty moves up to 45 days jail for a third offense.  We recognize that this amount of time in jail is life-changing, and our drunk driving attorneys stand prepared to defend you.

The way we fight each drunk driving case is different.  Some cases involve filing pre-trial motions that challenge some illegal police action.  Other cases involve proceeding to a jury trial (or potentially court trial, depending on the circumstances).  And finally, other cases involve simply negotiating the best plea offer for your case.  No matter the route you’d prefer your case to go, our criminal defense attorneys are experienced and have dealt with thousands of different issues.

Finally, there’s one step you need to take before we can start fighting your case.  Call us.  Our criminal and drunk driving defense attorneys are available 24/7 to begin consulting about your case.  We recognize that frequently drunk driving incidents happen at night, and on the weekends.  Police and prosecutors work around the clock to prosecute you.  Why should your defense attorney not work as hard?  Let’s start fighting – you can reach us at (414) 270-0202.


What is an OWI 3rd?

OWI stands for operating while intoxicated.  This specific article discusses third offense OWI charges.  There’s a difference between driving and and operating, defined in section 356.63(3) of the Wisconsin Statutes:

(a)Drive” means the exercise of physical control over the speed and direction of a motor vehicle while it is in motion.
(b) “Operate” means the physical manipulation or activation of any of the controls of a motor vehicle necessary to put it in motion.
Wisconsin prosecutors typically charge individuals with OWI, rather than DUI.  The reason is simple: it’s easier to prove that the defendant operated the vehicle than drove the vehicle.  In order to drive, one needs to operate.  In order to operate, one need not drive.  For example, if the defendant simply turns the vehicle on, he’s arguably operating.  This case is much easier for prosecutors to prove.

What are the elements of this offense?

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 2663 defines criminal operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant.  The elements of this offense are:

  1. The defendant drove or operated a motor vehicle on the highway; and
  2. The defendant was under the influence of an intoxicant at the time the defendant drove or operated a motor vehicle.

“Under the influence of an intoxicant” means the defendant’s ability to operate a vehicle was impaired because of consumption of an alcoholic beverage.  Prosecutors must prove that the defendant was less able to exercise the clear judgment and steady hand necessary to handle and control a motor vehicle.  Particular acts of unsafe driving aren’t necessary.  Instead, prosecutors must show impairment of the defendant’s ability to safely control the vehicle.

These elements are important.  They’re parts of the crime that all must be proven by the government.  If a prosecutor cannot prove you operated on a public roadway, you haven’t committed an OWI.  Similarly, if a prosecutor cannot prove you were intoxicated, it’s not OWI.  Unless both elements are present, the crime has not occurred.

What penalties do I face for a third offense drunk driving charge?

If we beat the case, none.  But if you’re convicted of an OWI 3rd charge, you face the following penalties:

  • 45 days – 1 year jail
  • 24-36 month driver license revocation (eligible for occupational license after 45 days)
  • 12-36 month ignition interlock device
  • $600+ fine
  • Alcohol assessment and treatment

How do we win my OWI 3rd case?

Every drunk driving case is different, but there are certain issues we check for in every case.  While this article certainly can’t answer how we’ll defend your drunk driving case, we can at start the conversation here.

First of all, how did you originally make contact with police?  Did the cop say you were speeding, deviating from your lane, or operating with your headlights off?  Or, did the police come across your already-stopped vehicle?  Either way, we consider this a stop for purposes of constitutional analysis.  And if the police didn’t have a valid reason for that stop, it could lead us to file a pre-trial motion challenging that police action.  Certainly this is important – winning certain motions leads to a dismissal of the charge against you.

The stop isn’t the only thing we check into.  If you were stopped for simply speeding, police need a valid reason to extend the traffic stop and investigate more than speeding.  In other words, they can’t pull you out of the car and make you do field sobriety tests without a valid reason.  There are many other issues we look for after the stop, but before the arrest.

And finally, you always maintain a right to a jury trial.  A third offense OWI is a criminal charge.  Because the charge is criminal, there are certain rights that attach to your prosecution.  The right to a jury trial is just one of those.  While some defense attorneys are afraid to fight for you at trial, that’s not the case at Meyer Van Severen, S.C.  We regularly fight criminal charges at trial, and will go to bat for you at this level.

Meyer Van Severen, S.C. provides drunk driving defense

Third offense drunk driving charges are serious.  A conviction results in a mandatory jail penalty.  The fact that you were charged will end up on CCAP.  And if you’re convicted, there are financial penalties, a blow device that will need to be installed in your vehicle, and the stigma associated with the charge.

At Meyer Van Severen, S.C. we’ve defended both aggravated and mitigated third offense drunk driving charges.  If you’re charged with any kind of OWI, contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202.