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First OWI Offense Racine office (near the Village Center Strip Mall)

A first offense OWI conviction in Racine or Kenosha will result in license suspension for 6 to 9 months, $150 to $300 in fines, an Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) assessment and 6 points added to your license.  

Glenn Gaskill

OWI & Criminal Defense Attorney

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OWI First Offense in Racine or Kenosha

Being convicted of a first offense OWI in the Racine and Kenosha communities comes with mandatory penalties.  Your license will be revoked anywhere between 6 and 9 months, you will be required to pay a fine between $150 and $300 which will be increased by costs added on by the court, you will be required to have an Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) assessment and 6 points will be assessed on your license.  If your alcohol level is 0.15 or above, you will face an ignition interlock requirement for 1 year. This means there will be a breathalyzer in your car to make it start and continue to run. 

Unlike every other state, an operating while intoxicated first offense is not a criminal offense in Wisconsin. For an offense to be criminal one of the penalties you must be facing is incarceration, meaning that even if you are convicted of a first offense OWI you will not go to jail. That also means that if you are filling out a job application that asks if you have ever been convicted of a criminal offense, the correct answer is no. That is one less penalty you have to deal with if you are living or working in Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, if you work or live outside of Wisconsin that may not be the case. Every state deals with OWI convictions in accordance with their laws, so while it may not be a criminal conviction in the state of Wisconsin it may be considered a criminal conviction in the state where you are living or working. Additionally, each state's DMV will impose the penalties associated with their OWI 1st offenses. All these potential problems make it vital for you to take your OWI 1st seriously and put yourself in the best position to fight. 

Additional OWI Fees & Consequences

Beyond the penalties imposed by the court upon a conviction for an OWI 1st offense, there are added financial burdens.  

Occupational License

In order to drive to and from work while your license is revoked, you will need to get an occupational license.  To get your occupational license the DMV will charge you a fee.  If you need to change your occupational license, the DMV will charge you a fee. 

SR-22 Insurance

To get your occupational license the DMV will first require that you have SR-22 insurance. This is high-risk insurance for those facing or convicted of an OWI. This high-risk insurance can cost hundreds of dollars every month and can be required even after your license is reinstated, which also has a fee.


The ignition interlock device you may be required to install requires a fee to have it installed, a monthly fee to use it and a fee to recalibrate the machine; not to mention the inconvenience of having to use the machine and having it recalibrated.  In total, an ignition interlock device can cost over $1,000 a year. 

If you are convicted of an OWI 1st offense in the Racine or Kenosha communities you may have a total financial burden in excess of $10,000 when you add up the costs of the years that follow your conviction.

Difficulty Travelling

There are more consequences than just the financial burden and court-ordered penalties that come with a first offense OWI that many people do not think about when considering the necessity of hiring a lawyer.  If you are convicted of an OWI 1st offense there are travel ramifications if you intend to travel outside of the United States, specifically Canada and certain European Union countries.  You may also find that you are unable to rent a vehicle because you have an OWI 1st offense on your driving record, your insurance rates may be affected for years, and you may be unable to drive a company vehicle for work.

Criminal Offense

While an OWI 1st offense is not a criminal offense in Wisconsin and you will not be facing jail time as a possible outcome of the case, there are indirect ways an OWI 1st can lead to a criminal offense with possible jail time.  Having your license revoked and continuing to drive can lead to an operating after revocation, which is a criminal offense that you can be sentenced to jail for if convicted.  Similarly, failing to install an ignition interlock device following an OWI 1st conviction can also result in a criminal charge and conviction.  These are just two instances of the dangers that exist following an OWI 1st conviction and are examples of why you need to take your OWI 1st offense seriously and not simply disregard it as a simple ticket.


How long does a first offense OWI stay on your record?

A first offense OWI in Wisconsin never comes off your record, it will show up for life. However, it is possible to be charged with a second OWI first offense. In Wisconsin, if you have not been convicted of an OWI in the past 10 years, then you are subject to a second OWI first offense. The penalties remain the same with the exception of the ignition interlock device, if you have a previous conviction, even 10 or more years ago, the interlock requirement becomes mandatory and is no longer based on your alcohol level.

If you have more than one OWI conviction, the state of Wisconsin has a “lifetime lookback”, meaning everything from January 1, 1989 on will be considered and checked for OWIs. If you have a conviction during that time it will be counted, and you will face a criminal level OWI.

How to beat an OWI first offense

Successfully fighting an OWI is far from simple. To be convicted of an OWI 1st offense the prosecution must prove that you were operating a motor vehicle on a public highway in Wisconsin and that you were under the influence of an intoxicant to the extent that you could not safely operate your vehicle. Additionally, the law in Wisconsin indicates that a judge or prosecutor may not reduce or dismiss an OWI unless it is not against the public interest to reduce or dismiss it. At the end of the day, we have to convince the prosecutor that there are big enough holes in their case against you that they cannot prove it.

To successfully challenge an OWI 1st offense and beat the charge, it comes down to two things; the lawyer you hire and the evidence at their disposal. The evidence in the case is the police reports, dashcam video, bodycam footage and anything else made available to us pertaining to your case. In order to prove the case against you, the prosecution must meet their legal burden every step of the way. If they falter and are unable to meet their burden, the evidence against you may be deemed inadmissible. With the right lawyer, you will have someone who is trained as to what to look for from before you are stopped, to the point you are arrested and through the request and analysis of your breath or blood. By challenging the evidence and having it ruled inadmissible, the prosecutor’s case becomes much more difficult to prove.

Successfully navigating an OWI 1st offense requires someone who can see the whole picture; the mandatory penalties, subsequent consequences and how best to take all the evidence and use it to your best possible outcome. Our team of experienced, award-winning lawyers will walk you through every step of your case and find any issues that give us an opportunity to beat your charge.

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We know
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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