An OWI Can Impact More Than Just Your Freedom

Operating a vehicle while intoxicated can lead to strict penalties in Wisconsin, such as jail time, hefty fines and losing your driver’s license. The state prosecutes these crimes quickly, sometimes giving you only 10 days from your arrest before they suspend your license. If you have been arrested for an OWI in the Milwaukee area, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

At Lee Law Firm, LLC, our OWI defense lawyers understand that mistakes happen. You deserve the chance to move on and forward with your life. However, the state may not always see the value in giving everyone a fair chance. Our founding attorney started her legal career at the Milwaukee County Prosecutor’s Office. With this valuable experience on both sides of the criminal justice system, she knows how to navigate your case and fight for justice.

What Is OWI?

OWI stands for Operating While Intoxicated in Wisconsin. Similar to DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) 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 content (BAC) of .08% or higher
  • Drive while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and/or chemical substances
  • Drive with any detectable amount of intoxicant in your system
  • 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.

Defending You Against Damaging OWI Charges

In Wisconsin, an OWI charge involves operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, your blood alcohol content does not always need to be above the legal limit to lead to your arrest, especially for second and third-time offenders.

The penalties for an OWI depend on whether this is your first offense, and it gets more severe with each arrest.

Penalties For First-Time Offenders

A first-time offender may face a fine of up to $300, loss of license for up to nine months, required installation of an ignition interlock device and a required sobriety program for one year. Losing your license alone for any period of time would make anyone’s life particularly difficult in Wisconsin. Aside from the loss of freedom, you lose your main mode of transportation for work, school or simply running errands. Your best option is to contact an experienced OWI attorney as soon as possible to get started on your defense.

Penalties For Second OWI Offenses

The consequences increase considerably after an initial offense. A second OWI offense within 10 years can or will lead to:

  • A fine of up to $1,100 in addition to an OWI surcharge of $435 and an alcohol/drug assessment fee of $250.
  • Increased insurance rates. After your conviction, you’ll need to pay for high-risk auto insurance (SR22), and you will likely also pay higher premiums for health insurance and life insurance as well.
  • Mandatory time behind bars, ranging from a minimum of five days to a maximum of six months. It is rare for judges to impose the minimum jail time for a second DWI offense.
  • License revocation lasting between a year and 18 months.
  • Mandatory installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device for 12-18 months. Costs of installation and maintenance, which can be in the thousands of dollars, will be your responsibility.
  • A permanent criminal record, as drunk driving convictions can almost never be expunged and a second offense OWI conviction will result in a lifetime look back period.

To learn more information about OWI charges and penalties, you can check out the Wisconsin DOT webpage on impaired driving.

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.

Let Us Protect Your Future – Reach Out Today

Those charged with an OWI often are overwhelmed and confused. We understand how frustrating the criminal justice system can be. We are here to fight for you and your rights. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling 414-567-5631 or filling out our online contact form. We can help clients in Hmong and English.