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DUI & DWI in Wisconsin

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The charge of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) is a very serious charge in Wisconsin. In 2003, Wisconsin became the 43rd state to lower the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) to a level of 0.08%, which makes the OWI laws even tougher than before on those who drink and drive.

OWI Charges

If you are arrested and charged with an OWI, you will likely want to engage the services of a good OWI attorney. Whether you believe yourself guilty or not, the charge of OWI is a serious enough offense, with mandatory jail time along with other penalties, that the court will assign you legal representation if you cannot afford your own.

What Constitutes Drunk Driving?

If you are over 21 years old, here are the four ways that the law defines intoxication:

  • Driving with a BAC of 0.08% or greater.
  • Driving while under the influence of an intoxicant, including alcohol, legal prescription medications, illegal or controlled drugs, or other chemical substances.
  • Driving with a detectable amount of any restricted controlled substance in the blood stream.
  • Driving while under the influence of a controlled substance or any other drug.

While the last three definitions sound alike, they are written that way so that they cover a wide variety of intoxicating substances, whether the substance in the bloodstream is intoxication by a valid prescription medication to an illegally-obtained controlled substance.

Refusal to Test

If you are arrested and asked for a blood or breath sample for testing and you refuse, you may incur additional penalties including a suspension of your driver's license, possible jail time, and a monetary fine.

OWI Consequences

Here are the penalties for a 1st offense OWI:

  • Fine: Between $150 to $300
  • OWI surcharge: $365
  • License suspension: 6 to 9 months
  • Occupational license: Allowed.
  • Assessment of alcohol/drug use: Yes.

The alcohol/drug use assessment is an examination of the drinking and drug use of the convicted OWI driver to determine whether or not a drug or alcohol problem exists. These basements are performed by a trained alcohol/drug counselor and, depending on the results, will result in a referral to either an educational program or a counseling program.

The occupational license is a limited driver's license that will allow the convicted OWI driver to drive a vehicle to and from home and work or home and school.

Wisconsin provides an online tool for you to check whether or not you are eligible for an occupational license.

Subsequent Convictions

The first conviction penalties for an OWI driver is geared toward education and changing the habits of the convicted driver. Additional conviction penalties do not offer the same leniency. The fines, license suspensions, and driving record points increase for each additional conviction, along with mandatory jail time for any subsequent OWI convictions.

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