Wisconsin OWI Penalties

On Jan. 1, 2017, new Wisconsin OWI penalties went into effect, making the penalties for drivers with multiple offenses more severe.

Penalties for a first, second, third, or subsequent OWI conviction are harsh and can vary from county to county.
 

Let the attorneys at Mishlove & Stuckert, serving clients throughout Wisconsin, explain...

Driver undergoing breathalyzer test

An Introduction to OWI Penalties

Each OWI offense involves a substantial number of penalties. Below is a summary of how these penalties increase with each subsequent offense. A comprehensive list of the penalties associated with each offense appears later on this page.

Fines

Fines start at $150 to $300 for a first offense and can increase to tens of thousands of dollars with multiple offenses. A seventh offense, for example, can carry a fine of up to $25,000. All offenders are responsible for paying for court-mandated measures such as an ignition interlock device (IID) and other court expenses.
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Jail Time

First-time offenders usually do not face jail time unless they had a passenger under the age of 16 or injured someone. A second offense will carry a minimum sentence of five days and a maximum of six months. A fourth offense is a felony. Ten offenses or more carry a minimum sentence of four years and a maximum of 15.

Driver's License Suspension

A driver's license can be suspended for up to nine months following a first offense. A second offense can result in an 18-month suspension. Subsequent offenses can result in three-year suspensions.
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Hardship/Occupational License Availability

A first-time offender can immediately apply for an occupational/hardship license that permits restricted driving, usually to and from a job. Repeat offenders must wait 45 days before they can apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Penalty for Causing an Injury while Intoxicated?

There are actually two sets of penalties under these circumstances. On 1/1/17, the definition of “injury” was expanded so that almost anyone in an accident with a drunken driver may claim an injury, even if they were not technically hurt. If you cause an injury and you submit to chemical testing, you face fines of up to $2,000 and could spend up to a year in jail - even if you have no prior offenses. Your license will be revoked for up to 2 years and, if you have a BAC of .15 or higher, you will have an IID installed in your car.

If you have any prior offenses or you refuse the chemical test, you face up to $10,000 in fines and up to 6 years in prison with the other penalties. Those penalties increase substantially if you have a minor as a passenger in the car.

Those accidents that cause great bodily harm to the victim come with fines of up to $25,000. This includes any injury that creates a strong risk of death or causes some permanent damage like disfigurement, extensive loss or impairment of some part of the body or organ, or any other serious injury. Such accidents are considered a Class F felony, for which you can serve up to 12.5 years in prison. Your license can be revoked for two or more years. If your BAC is more than .15 or if this is a repeat offense, your vehicle will be equipped with an IID for up to two or more years. As with other kinds of accidents, the penalties increase for those who have a minor or a pregnant woman in the car.

What If I Cause a Deadly Accident while Drunk Driving?

You face up to $100,000 in fines and 25 years in prison. That number increases to 40 years for repeat offenders. Your license will be revoked for 5 years and you can’t apply for a hardship license until 120 days have passed. Repeat OWI offenders can’t apply for 12 months. An alcohol assessment is required, and 6 demerit points are applied to your license.

Is There a Penalty for Refusing the Tests?

Yes. The first time, your license is revoked for a year and your car is equipped with an IID. You must wait to apply for a hardship license for 30 days. The second time, you face a two year revocation, as well as an IID. You can apply for a hardship permit after 90 days. The third time, you will lose your license for 3 years, end up with an IID, and you won’t be able to apply for a hardship license for 120 days.

I Received a "Notice of Intent to Suspend." Now what?

You must request a hearing within 10 days – or you will lose your license!

Should I Even Bother Hiring an Attorney?

Absolutely. An OWI can have far-reaching effects that devastate your finances, your career, and much more. Additionally, it is entirely possible that your rights were violated at some point when you were stopped, arrested, tested, or charged. Lab records may also be faulty. Our attorneys can identify flaws in the case against you in order to minimize your penalties, or, in some cases, have the charges dropped altogether.

A Closer Look  at OWI Penalties

First Offense

  • If this is the first time you’re facing OWI charges in Wisconsin, you may face a fine of $150 – $300, plus substantial court costs.
  • You don’t typically face jail time. That can change if you have a passenger who is less than 16 years old, though. Then you may have to serve up to 6 months in jail.  Also, if you injure someone, you may have to serve a jail sentence.
  • Your driver’s license will be revoked for 6 to 9 months.
  • If you have a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher, you will also have to have your vehicle equipped with an Ignition Interlock device, at your expense.
  • You can apply for an occupational license immediately.
  • You will need to have an alcohol assessment.
  • You may get 6 demerit points on your license.

Second Offense

  • For a second offense, the fine can be up to $1,100, plus substantial court costs.
  • You will serve from 5 days to 6 months in jail.
  • You could have your license revoked for 18 months.
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device.
  • You can’t apply for an occupational license until 45 days after conviction.
  • You have to have an alcohol assessment.
  • You face 6 demerit points on your license.

Third Offense

  • For a third offense, the fine is up to $2,000, but this can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled, depending on the alcohol level.
  • You will serve a jail term of 45 days to a year.
  • Your license will be revoked for 2 to 3 years.
  • You must have an ignition interlock device installed.
  • You can’t apply for a hardship license for 45 days.
  • You must have an alcohol assessment.
  • 6 demerit points are applied to your license.

Fourth Offense

  • For a fourth offense, you will be charged with a felony.
  • Face up to $10,000 in fines. Again, these can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled, depending on the alcohol level.
  • Maximum prison time of 6 years, with a maximum period of initial confinement of 3 years, and a minimum of 60 days.
  • Your license will be revoked for up to 3 years.
  • You must have an ignition interlock device installed.
  • You can’t apply for a hardship license for 45 days.
  • You must have an alcohol assessment.
  • 6 demerit points are applied to your license.

Fifth and Sixth Offense

On either the 5th or 6th OWI, all of these may apply.

  • The fine is up to $10,000.
  • You will get anywhere from a 6-month to a 10-year prison term, with the first five years actually spent in prison.
  • Your license will be revoked for up to 3 years.
  • You must have an ignition interlock device installed.
  • You can’t apply for a hardship license for 45 days.
  • You must have an alcohol assessment.
  • 6 demerit points are applied to your license.

Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Offense

As with the 5th and 6th OWI convictions, the penalties for the 7th, 8th, and 9th are all in line with each other.

  • The fine is up to $25,000.
  • You will get a maximum prison term of 12.5 years with a maximum period of initial confinement of 7.5 years, with a minimum of 3 years.
  • Your license will be revoked for up to 3 years.
  • You must have an ignition interlock device installed.
  • You can’t apply for a hardship license for 45 days. .
  • You must have an alcohol assessment.
  • 6 demerit points are applied to your license.

Tenth and Subsequent Offenses

All 10th and subsequent offenses will have a maximum prison term of 15 years, with a maximum period of initial confinement of 10 years, with a minimum of 4 years.

Mishlove and Stuckert, LLC Attorneys at Law

Andrew Mishlove and Lauren Stuckert

Mishlove & Stuckert, LLC Attorneys at Law has been rated the #1 DUI law firm in the state by Wisconsin Law Journal Reader Rankings. Our DUI specialists have been highly rated by organizations including: 

  • Avvo™
  • Super Lawyers
  • Martindale-Hubbell 
  • Better Business Bureau 

To speak to one of our board-certified DUI defense specialists, request a consultation online or call us at (414) 332-3499.

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