Municipal Courts Hear Some First OWI Offenses in Wisconsin By Andrew Mishlove on January 14, 2021

A judge’s gavel at a law office deskFacing a first offense driving under the influence (DUI)/operating while intoxicated (OWI) charge can be intimidating. You may be uncertain how the drunk driving charge will affect your life. The defense lawyers at Mishlove & Stuckert, LLC Attorneys at Law can help you if you’ve been charged with an OWI in the state of Wisconsin.

Many municipal courts hold hearings for first offense OWI. Below, our attorneys cover some of the basics of municipal court hearings and how you can seek a jury trial instead. We’ll also note a few of the legal penalties for first offense OWI, and why having a defense lawyer is crucial when making a municipal court appearance.

About Municipal Courts

Municipal courts have jurisdiction over non-criminal municipal ordinance violations, including first offense OWI changes. There are no juries in municipal court, but rather a judge who ultimately decides the case.

In addition to first offense drunk driving charges, municipal courts also often handle:

  • Traffic violations
  • Parking violations
  • Underage alcohol consumption
  • Trespassing
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Building code violations
  • Health code violations

What to Expect in Municipal Court Hearings

During a municipal trial, the judge will hear the cases by the defendant and prosecution. Each side will be able to present evidence, call witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses. When both sides have finished presenting their cases, the judge will make a ruling on the OWI case.

What If a Municipality Does Not Have a Municipal Court?

If a municipality does not have a municipal court, Wisconsin state law allows the first offense OWI to be heard in circuit court instead. Circuit courts can also hear other kinds of municipal ordinance violations as needed.

Seeking a Jury Trial Instead of Municipal Court

It is possible for a person charged with a first offense OWI to seek a circuit court jury trial rather than a municipal hearing before a judge. This option must be pursued within 10 days of the initial municipal court appearance for the OWI. 

Penalties for a First Offense OWI

For first offense OWI, the state of Wisconsin issues the following penalties:

  • Driver’s license revocation for six to nine months
  • Fines of $150 to $300
  • Additional charges and court fees depending on jurisdiction

Keep in mind that the fines and penalties will be higher if there was a minor in the vehicle at the time, or if the driver caused an accident or injuries while intoxicated.

Why You Need an OWI Attorney on Your Side

If you’re facing your first OWI charge, having an attorney on your side is essential. A defense attorney can consider the evidence in your case and develop a sound strategy for the charges you face.

An OWI defense lawyer will help you prepare for the municipal hearing, offering advice on what to wear and how to conduct yourself in court. A lawyer will help you seek reduced penalties, and find ways to drop or reduce the OWI charges if possible. An OWI defense attorney can also provide insight into the short-term effects and long-term repercussions of this drunk driving charge.

Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have been charged with an OWI, it’s crucial to consult with an attorney before your court hearing. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact our trusted OWI defense lawyers online or call Mishlove & Stuckert, LLC Attorneys at Law at (414) 332-3499.

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