OWI and DUI Defense Representation in Waukesha and Kenosha Counties
In the state of Wisconsin, an operating while intoxicated (OWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) conviction can lead to significant jail time, costly fines, the loss of your driver’s license, and other serious consequences. Depending on your circumstances, you may only have ten days from the date you were arrested to object to the suspension of your driver’s license, so it is in your best interest to get in touch with a legal professional right away.
At Lee Law Firm, LLC, we are committed to helping you build a strong OWI defense and positioning you for the best possible outcome. Our Milwaukee OWI lawyer is a former prosecutor who knows how to effectively approach these cases. We recognize you are likely experiencing an unimaginable amount of stress and uncertainty, and we are confident we can provide the sound advice and guidance you need to successfully navigate this difficult moment. No matter your situation, we believe in equal justice and will use our firm’s resources to advocate for you every step of the way.
What is OWI?
OWI stands for Operating While Intoxicated in Wisconsin. Similar to DUI (driving under the influence) in other states, it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. In some cases, an individual can be charged with OWI even if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal limit, especially if it is their second or subsequent offense.
Penalties for OWI convictions vary depending on the severity of the offense. As we have mentioned earlier, this could include fines, jail time, community service, and license suspensions or revocations. A conviction for OWI can also have long-term consequences such as increased insurance rates and difficulty getting a job or a professional license.
What Constitutes “Intoxication” in Wisconsin?
You may be arrested for OWI in Wisconsin if you:
- Drive with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, or
- Drive while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and/or chemical substances, or
- Drive with any detectable amount of intoxicant in your system, or
- Drive under the influence of any drug.
The Role of Breath and Chemical Tests
When a law enforcement officer pulls you over and suspects you are OWI, they will likely ask you to take a chemical or breath test. Both of these tests calculate your BAC.
You do not have to consent to a test, and it may not be in your best interest to do so if you know you have been drinking. If you refuse, you will be given a Notice of Intent to Revoke Operating Privilege. You will only have 10 days to request a hearing and object to the imminent suspension. If you do not request a hearing in time or the court decides against you, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least one year. This may still be preferable to being charged with OWI.
If you do consent to a test and your BAC is over the legal limit, you will most likely be arrested, charged with OWI, and given a Notice of Intent to Revoke Operating Privilege. Again, you will only get 10 days to request a hearing to challenge the suspension of your license.
Why Hire a Lawyer for My Wisconsin OWI Case?
If you were recently arrested for OWI, you will understandably be concerned about your legal options. You may feel you were not treated fairly by the police. When you hire our Milwaukee OWI attorney, we will meticulously assess the facts of your case and walk you through your legal options.
In a Wisconsin OWI case, there are three possible outcomes:
- Pleading Guilty
- Negotiating and Accepting a Plea Deal
- Getting the Case Dismissed
You should consider hiring legal representation even if you believe you are “dead to rights” guilty. Never plead guilty or make any statements without first consulting a lawyer. One of several defense options may be available, especially if the arresting officer violated your rights. We may be able to negotiate a favorable plea deal or get the case dismissed outright.
Our team at Lee Law Firm, LLC can:
- Gather all evidence in your case (including police reports, chemical test results, and video footage)
- Review all available evidence and build the best possible defense
- Go to court for you or with you depending on whether your case is being tried as a traffic or criminal matter
- Provide guidance and updates throughout our handling of your case
- Handle any necessary motions or hearings
- Help you with your driver’s license suspension
- Assist with any jail sentence
- Represent you in a bench or jury trial
- Fight for the best available outcome
A first OWI offense is considered a civil offense, not a criminal offense. Penalties include fines of up to $800 and a license suspension of at least six months.
Second and third OWI offenses are charged as criminal misdemeanors and carry harsher penalties. A conviction can result in imprisonment, larger fines, and a longer license suspension.
Fourth and subsequent OWI offenses are charged as criminal felonies. Potential punishments include 60 or more days of jail time, up to $10,000 in fines, and a license suspension of up to 3 years.
Drivers of commercial motor vehicles and commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders may face additional consequences. First-time offenders will lose their CDL license for 1 year (or 3 years if they were transporting hazardous materials). Second and subsequent offenses will result in a lifetime CDL disqualification.
The following constitutes OWI or DUI:
Driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. If you are stopped for an OWI with a blood or breath test that registers at .08 percent or higher, you are considered intoxicated and unable to operate a vehicle safely.
Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and/or chemical substances.
Driving with any detectable amount of intoxicant in your system.
Driving under the influence of any drug.
You do not have to consent to a test. If you refuse, you will be given a Notice of Intent to Revoke Operating Privilege. You will have ten days to request a court hearing. If you do not request a hearing or lose the hearing, your license will be suspended for at least one year.
If you consent to a test and the result of the test is above the legal limit, you will be given a Notice of Intent to Revoke Operating Privilege. You have ten days to request an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension of your license. Failure to request a hearing or losing the hearing will cause your license to be suspended for six months. You may also receive additional penalties, if you are convicted.
A first offense OWI or DUI is considered a civil offense — not a criminal offense. Penalties for a first offense OWI or DUI can include fines up to $800 and having your license suspended for at least six months.
Second and third offenses of OWIs and DUIs are misdemeanors. Penalties include significantly larger fines, longer driver’s license suspensions, and time in jail. A fourth conviction and consecutive convictions are felony charges.
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Peb hais lus Hmoob
Former Milwaukee Prosecutor
Community Supporter of social justice causes