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4th Offense OWI: The Law in Wisconsin

By Andrew Mishlove on February 07, 2013



An Important Update: On January 1, 2017 the law was updated making a 4th offense OWI a felony in Wisconsin under any circumstances. Click here for more information


Consequences of 4th OWI

All OWI convictions may have serious long-term ramifications, but having a felony conviction is particularly burdensome. It can follow you indefinitely when applying for jobs, government licenses, and even housing. It goes without saying that you must do everything in your power to defend yourself if you are charged a fourth time with operating while intoxicated.

The specific consequences of a 4th offense OWI felony are severe. You may face:

  • fines of up to $10,000
  • three years of license revocation
  • and up to six years in jail
On top of that, an ignition interlock device must be installed on your vehicle (at your own, not insignificant, expense). You will also be required to obtain the high-risk auto insurance, SR-22 that will cost significantly more than your current auto insurance.

Multiple OWI Offenses

Earlier this year someone called authorities in Wisconsin to report that a man crashed his vehicle off a highway and into a tree. The man exited the vehicle with a case of beer and a bottle in his hand. The driver left the scene of the accident, but police officers arrested him shortly after at his house and charged him with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. This case might not have made many headlines except for the fact that it turns out this was the 11th time that the resident was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

While eleven OWI charges for a single driver are rare, it is not uncommon for local residents to have more than one charge related to drunk driving. For this reason, it is important to understand the consequences of Wisconsin OWI laws as they relate to punishment increase in severity with each offense.

A Felony OWI Charge Can Be Defended

Considering the consequences, it is imperative to obtain experienced legal professionals to protect your rights. For both the felony and criminal misdemeanor charges, probation may be an option to reduce actual jail time; but probation carries with it the burden of supervision.

The first responsibility of an reputable defense attorney is to investigate and analyze the case, to determine how it can best be challenged. In some cases, it may even be prudent to fight the charges altogether. Police officers may have acted improperly or errors may have been made when determining your blood alcohol content. No matter what the situation, the first step is always to contact a top OWI defense attorney as soon as possible.

The next responsibility of a reputable defense attorney is to refer the client for appropriate counseling and treatment. This is a legal necessity, as the system looks carefully at how a defendant addresses alcohol issues while the case is pending. Its also just smart, as it may be time to deal with the problem.

Finally, a truly experienced defense attorney always tries to negotiate the best possible resolution with the prosecutor; but, if that is not realistic, the lawyer must be capable of putting up a fight.

Related information: The Truth About Blood Tests

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