You’ve had a few drunk driving charges in your past. Your second and third offense drunk driving charges both resulted in some jail time. With the arrival of your fourth offense you now face the potential of going to prison. OWI 4th charges are Class H felonies, meaning the maximum penalty you face upon conviction is 6 years prison. Felony convictions carry collateral consequences, such as the inability to possess a firearm for the rest of your life. Additionally, felony charges could result in other serious collateral consequences that will impact your life. On top of all that, there’s the stigma associated with a felony conviction.
At Van Severen Law Office we believe that individuals facing fourth offense drunk driving charges are in a precarious position. There’s suddenly a lot more than a simple jail sentence on the line. And the way to best counteract that is with a top drunk driving defense attorney. At Van Severen Law Office you’ll meet a few of those. Our defense attorneys aggressively fight for our clients facing felony drunk driving charges. We’ve argued virtually every standard pre-trial motion, and constantly look for new ways to defend our clients. No matter whether you’re represented by one of our partners or one of our associates, you’re in good hands.
Van Severen Law Office is a criminal defense and drunk driving defense law firm. Some attorneys aren’t competent enough to fight both your criminal charges and your drunk driving charges. We are. Whether you’re looking to negotiate for the best result in your case, or fight it all the way to jury trial, we have your back. Contact us at (414) 270-0202 and let’s start fighting your case.
OWI stands for operating while intoxicated. This specific article discusses fourth 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 Criminal Jury Instruction 2663 defines criminal operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant. The elements of this offense are:
“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.
Elements of the offense are the first place that our defense attorneys begin defending your case.
If we beat the case, none. But if you’re convicted of an OWI 4th charge, you face the following penalties:
What if it’s been more than 5 years since my first offense? This is old law. Previously, the first question we’d ask would be whether you had four offenses within five years. This would determine whether the charge was a felony or not. Unfortunately, the way the law currently works is that all fourth offense drunk driving charges are felonies.
Every criminal case we defend at Van Severen Law Office is different. Some of those cases involve a large number of pre-trial motions. Others are simply trial cases, where our goal is to put your allegations in front of a jury to achieve a not-guilty finding.
But we start in the same place for all charges: are there any motions we can file to put your case in a better position moving forward? For example, drunk driving cases involve you, a vehicle, and law enforcement somehow making contact with that vehicle. Were you passed out behind the wheel? Or did the police actually stop your moving vehicle. If the vehicle was moving, did the cops having probable cause (or reasonable suspicion) to stop you? If not, we’ve likely found our first motion.
Once they stopped you, what justification did they have to extend the traffic stop beyond the initial purpose? If they stopped you for speeding, how did the cop move the investigation from speeding to the drunk driving? Law enforcement can’t hold onto you forever. There has to be a reason for them to extend the stop to investigate the OWI.
Finally, what kind of trial options do we have? Did law enforcement come upon your crashed vehicle? Were you sitting outside of it? These facts could lead to a trial defense based on an argument you weren’t driving the vehicle. Certainly the circumstances will be used against you, but there might be a hole here that we can take advantage of. Another factual argument at trial could deal with whether you were actually intoxicated at the time of driving.
At your initial consultation we’ll begin discussing options for your case. This article is general, and the things we’ve talked about might not apply to your specific situation.
Certainly a fourth offense drunk driving charge is serious. Any felony charge is serious. And arguably, even your first offense drunk driving ticket was serious. But a felony conviction can send you to prison for a long time. At Van Severen Law Office we certainly recognize the obstacles you’re facing. We’ve worked with clients in your position.
Digging through your case with a fine-toothed comb is crucial to your future success. If we successfully find some kind of motion to challenge police conduct, there could be the potential to have your case thrown out. Even if some kind of pre-trial motion doesn’t apply to your case, there’s still hope. You always maintain your right to a jury trial. And if you don’t want to proceed to trial, we can engage in plea negotiations with the government for a better result.
Contact one of our drunk driving lawyers today. We answer phone calls 24/7