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OWI penalties vary by county, but in Waukesha County, first offense OWI penalties could include a $150 to $300 fine and revocation of your license for 6 to 9 months. In one of the most severe cases, a homicide caused by OWI, the penalty is up to a $100,000 fine, 25-40 years in prison or both.

Tom Grieve

OWI & Criminal Defense Attorney

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A first offense OWI is not just a ticket. In addition to driver's license revocation time, potential ignition interlock device requirements, fines, and alcohol classes, studies have shown that a DUI first offense can cost between $20,000 and $40,000 over the span of your life. In addition to those penalties, you may also face a permanent travel ban to Canada and certain other countries, increased insurance premiums, and a loss of any special licenses you hold including a pilot's license or CDL.

If you are convicted of an OWI offense you will then have a revoked driver's license. If you do not properly obtain an occupational license, or if you are driving outside of your occupational hours or without an ignition interlock device properly installed, you could face criminal charges that carry potential additional jail time on top of any time you may have already served for your OWI.

 

No one ever plans to get an OWI. Most people think it will never happen to them. But even good people have bad days, and mistakes happen. If you find yourself faced with an OWI, you face significant potential penalties. If you are convicted of any OWI offense you will face a period of driver's license revocation time, potential mandatory ignition interlock device requirements for any vehicle titled or registered in your name, fines in the thousands of dollars, mandatory alcohol classes, limitations on your ability to drive for months or years, and even jail time.

In Wisconsin, we refer to Operating Under the Influence as an OWI, but many people refer to them as DUIs. Wisconsin has many different versions of OWI including alcohol impairment, drug impairment, medication impairment, and combinations of alcohol and drugs. It is true that you can be charged with an OWI for driving while taking prescribed medications even if you are taking those medications consistent with the prescription dosage. 

In any DUI case, the State must prove that you were:

  1. Operating a Motor Vehicle
  2. On a public roadway
  3. Under the influence of some form of an intoxicant such that it renders you unsafe to operate the vehicle

While most people think that you cannot be charged with an alcohol OWI if your blood or breath alcohol concentration is below a .08, the legal limit for alcohol in Wisconsin. However, this is not accurate. You can be charged with an OWI regardless of your alcohol concentration if you were unsafe to operate your vehicle due to your level of impairment. 

Whether this is your first time ever being arrested, or you are facing a repeat charge for OWI, it is important to have an experienced, and knowledgeable attorney representing you to get you the best result possible in your OWI case.

Most people charged with a first offense OWI will not hire an attorney. However, most people charged with a second offense OWI will. You will never get a second chance to challenge your first offense OWI. If you hire the right lawyer with the experience and knowledge to challenge the facts of your case, you may never face a second OWI because you avoid a conviction on the first.



How long does an OWI stay on my record?

Any OWI conviction will stay on your record for life. If you have only one prior conviction, Wisconsin will look back for 10 years. If your last offense is more than 10 years prior to your current offense, Wisconsin will treat your new offense as a second first offense. However, if you have two or more prior convictions on your record, Wisconsin has a “lifetime look back”. This means that any conviction you have, no matter how long ago, will be counted to increase the level of OWI of your current offense. So even if your last OWI was 20 years ago, you can still be charged with a 3rd offense OWI if you have two prior offenses on your record. Penalties for OWI offenses only increase with the level of OWI. Any 4th offense OWI is a felony that carries potential prison time. A fifth or sixth offense carries a presumptive minimum jail sentence of at least 18 months of initial confinement in prison. A 7th, 8th, or 9th offense carries a mandatory 3 years of initial confinement in prison. Penalties for OWI offenses can add up quickly.

How to beat an OWI charge

For an attorney who knows what how to properly defend an OWI case, a DUI can have many potential defenses. From reviewing the actions of the police in stopping you, questioning you, and conducting standardized field sobriety tests, to reviewing the legality of any breath or blood test, our experienced and knowledgeable Waukesha attorney’s can determine your best options to defend against your OWI case.

Wisconsin has a statute that prohibits prosecutors and judges from reducing or dismissing an OWI unless it is not against the public interest for them to do so. This means that your attorney must convince the State that they cannot prove their OWI case against you. You will not be able to negotiate your DUI down to something other than a DUI simply based on your good character, lack of prior record, or any other positive attributes about you. Wisconsin law simply does not allow for a “good guy” defense.

Contact our team of Waukesha attorneys to discuss how we can defend your OWI case today.

 

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We know
prosecutors
because we were prosecutors.

Tom Grieve, the firm's managing attorney and founder, is a former state prosecutor and is not the only ex-prosecutor at the firm. We love hiring attorneys from both sides of the wall to bring as many perspectives to fight your case as aggressively as possible. The State of Wisconsin likes it when you choose the run-of-the-mill fee to plea™ lawyers who don't even know how to analyze and defend cases instead of experienced criminal attorneys:

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