OWI Penalties and High BAC

By Andrew Mishlove on February 12, 2020


A police officer with a breathalyzerIn the state of Wisconsin, there are stiffer operating while intoxicated (OWI) penalties issued for drunk drivers well beyond the legal limit of a .08. These harsher penalties can be extreme depending on the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) and other circumstances related to your case.

Drunk driving attorneys Andrew Mishlove and Lauren Stuckert would like to discuss the fines and penalties for an excessively high BAC. This should help you understand the legal consequences of drinking and driving and why it’s crucial to speak with an attorney about the charges you face.

Standard OWI Penalties for a .08 BAC

To offer perspective on how higher BACs impact the penalties in an OWI case, consider these standard penalties for a first offense OWI arrest:

  • Fine of $150 to $300
  • Driver’s license revocation for 6 to 9 months

These penalties get harsher for subsequent OWI charges. Below, we’ll assume that the higher BAC penalties apply to an arrest OWI in which there were no injuries or property damage.

Ignition Interlock Device for BAC Greater Than .15

If you have a BAC greater than .15 during your OWI arrest and it is your first offense, you will have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle. An IID is essentially a breathalyzer test for an individual vehicle. A driver must blow into the IID and prove sobriety in order to start their vehicle.

Since the driver operated their vehicle at twice the legal limit, this harsher penalty helps ensure sobriety before they can operate a vehicle, even for essential functions such as work, school, or religious worship.

Doubled OWI Fines for BAC of .17 to .1999

Like many other states, Wisconsin has harsher penalties for drivers who are extremely intoxicated behind the wheel. For drivers with a .17 to .1999 BAC, their fines will be doubled. For a first offense OWI, that means a penalty of up to $600.

Tripled OWI Fines for BAC of .2 to .249

As the BAC increases, so do the fines for OWI. When a driver has a BAC of .2 to .249, fines are tripled. For a first offense OWI with this BAC, that means fines as high as $900.

Quadrupled OWI Fines for BAC of .25 and Greater

The last tier of higher fines for OWI charges comes when a driver has a BAC of .25 and higher. In these cases, the fines are quadrupled. That means for a first offense OWI of this excessively high BAC (more than three times the legal limit), a driver will pay a fine of up to $1,200.

Other OWI Penalties to Keep in Mind

Keep in mind that other penalties may apply to an OWI with an excessively high BAC, particularly if someone is injured or if there is property damage involved. Similarly, the fines and the severity of the charges will increase if a person has previous OWIs on their record.

These steeper fines and harsher penalties are why it’s important to consult with a drunk driving lawyer about your case. We can help reduce penalties are possibly even get charges dropped.

Learn More About OWI Charges

If you would like to learn more about your legal options following an OWI arrest, be sure to contact our skilled team of drunk driving attorneys. You can reach the lawyers of Mishlove & Stuckert, LLC in four locations throughout Wisconsin. You can reach our Milwaukee location at (414) 206-6919, our Oshkosh location at (920) 306-8500, our West Bend location at (262) 239-4828, and our Waukesha location at (262) 207-4527.

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