What Is a Misdemeanor OWI/DUI in Wisconsin?

By Andrew Mishlove on November 10, 2019


Statue of JusticeIf you’re facing a drunk driving or operating while intoxicated charge, it’s important that you seek the aid of a OWI/DUI lawyer. The majority of people charged with drunk driving do not contest their charges, even though they may be able to get their charges dropped. At Mishlove & Stuckert, LLC, we’ll fight on your behalf, and help you understand all legal options available to you.

When facing a drunk driving charge in Wisconsin, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Below, we want to discuss what is classified as a misdemeanor when it comes to drunk driving cases and why it matters.

Is an OWI a Misdemeanor?

A first offense OWI is not considered a misdemeanor in the state. Instead, first offense OWIs are considered civil offenses. There are still serious penalties and fines involved, but you are not charged with a misdemeanor at first.

When Are OWIs Classified as Misdemeanors?

In Wisconsin, a second offense OWI and third offense OWI are both classified as misdemeanors. Authorities in the state believe that in these repeat offenses of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, drivers should be penalized more severely, and their actions constitute a misdemeanor.

When Are OWIs/DUIs Considered a Felony?

In Wisconsin, a fourth offense OWI and all subsequent OWIs are considered felonies, and subject to more severe penalties. This classification went into effect on April 25, 2016. Prior to that, a fourth OWI was only considered a felony if it occurred within five years of the driver’s third OWI. Now there is no timeframe in which a fourth OWI is not considered a felony.

Differences in Penalties for Misdemeanor and Felony OWI/DUI

The differences in penalties for misdemeanor charges and felony charges are rather pronounced.

For instance, with a third offense misdemeanor OWI, a driver faces up to a year of incarceration, fines of up to $2,000, and driver’s license revocation for up to three years. By comparison, a fourth offense felony OWI means a driver faces up to six years of incarceration, fines of up to $10,000, and driver’s license revocation for up to three years. These felony penalties increase with each subsequent OWI charge.

Fighting a Misdemeanor OWI/DUI

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor OWI, it’s important that you fight the charge in court. The circumstances of your traffic stop may reveal a lack of probable cause on the part of the law enforcement officer. What’s more, flaws in the sobriety tests performed could mean a false positive for intoxication.

Fighting a misdemeanor OWI charge means the difference between getting charges dropped or reduced, and facing harsher penalties that could impact your record.

How Our Attorneys Can Help

Out OWI/DUI lawyers will discuss the circumstances of your case in full detail. We can determine if the arresting officer acted fairly and properly, and can identify instances in which you can contest the traffic stop itself and/or the results of the sobriety test you took. We’ll offer honest insight and fight for you every step of the way.

Speak with Our Lawyers About Your Case

If you live in Wisconsin and need to discuss your legal options about a drunk or intoxicated driving charge, be sure to contact a skilled OWI/DUI attorney. You can reach our law office in Milwaukee at (414) 206-6978 and in Waukesha at (262) 330-1527.

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