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Understanding Wisconsin OWI Laws: Answers to Common Question


If you have been charged with OWI, our team will fight tirelessly on your behalf to help save your license and your freedom.

Can you really successfully defend an OWI charge in Wisconsin?

Even if you’ve been charged with an OWI in Wisconsin, you can still win your case. With the right attorney on your side, you’ll build a defense against the charges that may either have you looking at a case dismissal or seriously reduced penalties. You don’t have to give up and plead guilty yet. Instead, Attorneys Mishlove and Stuckert are here to help. If you’re like many people, though, you probably have lots of questions about Wisconsin’s OWI laws. Here are a few of the most common.

How long does the DA have to charge you with an OWI offense?

In misdemeanor cases, the district attorney has up to three years to charge you in an OWI case. In felony situations, though, there’s no limit on how long the office has to charge you. Felony cases are typically those involving accidents or multiple OWIs.

Can I be charged with a DUI in Wisconsin if I didn’t have a blood test?

The state can charge you with an OWI if you have a breath or blood test that registers your blood alcohol level at greater than .08 percent. It is illegal for a driver to operate a motor vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or greater. If you already have  three prior offenses, or you are under an IID order, that number goes down to .02, on an breath or blood test. What if this is my second OWI?

If you’ve already been convicted of an OWI, you may face more severe penalties the second time. You may face longer jail times, heavier fines, and the need to install a burdensome and expensive ignition interlock device. Your best option: contact Mishlove and Stuckert immediately.

What if it’s my third OWI?

Two previous OWI convictions on your record may mean spending the next year in jail, paying fines of thousands of dollars, and losing your license for up to 3 years. The permissible legal BAC limit also goes down to .02% if you’re convicted again, making the need for a good attorney far more critical.

What happens with my fourth OWI?

If this is your 4th OWI, you will be charged with a felony, and you could be sent to a state prison or county jail, face fines of thousands of dollars, and lose your license for three years. In fact, anything beyond your third OWI, becomes a felony offense, complete with the heavier fines and penalties to match. The higher your BAC, the higher the penalties, so finding an attorney who can help is a must.

Am I going to lose my license?

You will lose your license if you’re convicted of an OWI in Wisconsin. That makes choosing an attorney who can mount a strong defense extremely important. Find the very best lawyer to guide you through the court system and explain the law. Attorney Mishlove or Stuckert will effectively protect your rights and your freedom.

What are the laws if I have a CDL?

If you drive for a living, and you have a CDL, the laws change significantly. If you’re operating a commercial motor vehicle while you’re under the influence and you have a BAC of .04% or greater, your CDL can be revoked for a year after your first offense.

A second offense can result in your CDL being revoked for life. The fines vary, as do the jail sentences, and if you were carrying hazardous materials at the time, your CDL is gone for three years. Even if you’re not driving a commercial vehicle at the time, you are disqualified from holding your CDL for a year. After your second violation, you can’t have a CDL for the rest of your life.

I had a passenger under the age of 16. Does that change things?

If you’re driving with a passenger who is under the age of 16 and you are pulled over and charged with an OWI, the penalties automatically double. A first offense with a minor under 16 becomes a moves to a criminal misdemeanor; and, if you’re convicted, the court has to impose a jail sentence of at least five days.

What happens if you cause an accident while driving under the influence?

If you cause an injury by driving while intoxicated, you may face up to a year in jail, pay thousands of dollars in fines, and have an ignition interlock device installed.  If, however, that accident results in great bodily harm (a serious or permanent injury)  or death, the offense becomes a felony, and you could be facing years in prison, as well as fines of up to $100,000.

What exactly constitutes felony OWI in Wisconsin?

You may be charged with a felony in the event of an accident that causes great bodily harm or death, or if you’ve been convicted of four or more OWI offenses.

Can the court require me to get an ignition interlock device?

Wisconsin courts can require you to get an ignition interlock device (or IID) if you’re  a repeat offender, if you refused to provide a blood or breath test, or if you had a BAC level of .15 or higher. You are only allowed to operate IID-equipped vehicles for the duration, and you must pay the installation and leasing fees of the device.

Can blood test results be wrong?

Blood tests CAN be wrong.  We have the best, most advanced training in headspace gas chromatography, the method that was used to test your blood. No other OWI/DUI law firm in Wisconsin is better trained to find any mistakes in your blood test.

If you need an aggressive defense, a fair fee structure and a proven history of success going back more than three decades, then call Wisconsin’s only true OWI DUI defense specialists.

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"Mr. Mishlove was worth every penny and then some. I would consider him the Michelangelo of the DUI defense world. He is professional, dedicated, and pours his heart into his job. I would give him 10 stars if I could."

Ronald S.

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4425 N Port Washington Rd
Ste 110
Milwaukee, WI 53212

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