Usually if you’re convicted of an Operating While Intoxicated as a first offense in Wisconsin, the fine amount (technically a forfeiture amount) is between $150.00 and $300.00. Then come the court costs and surcharges. This brings the total cost up to somewhere around $700.00–$1,000.00 in immediate expenses.
If convicted of a drunk driving first offense in Wisconsin you’ll face a mandatory AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug Assessment) and follow through with the recommended treatment. With the cost of both the assessment and your mandatory treatment, you’ll be on the hook for at least several hundred, sometimes even thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Your existing auto insurance will need to be replaced with Wisconsin’s high-risk auto insurance, more commonly known as SR-22 insurance. This can sometimes double, triple, or even quadruple the rates you are paying right now. Just filing as a high-risk driver can lead to higher fees. While you won’t have SR-22 insurance forever, don’t think for one moment the insurance company will just forget that you had a drunk driving conviction. You’ll be facing years of significantly higher insurance rates, meaning thousands of dollars more out of pocket.
There is no avoiding these extra payments, and no tricks to lower post-OWI insurance. Insurance companies find out about your OWI conviction as soon as you file the mandatory SR-22. And you will be required to have an SR-22 for at least 3 years. Your insurance company may change your rates based on the circumstances of your OWI and your driving record.
Depending on the specifics of your case, and the strength of your attorney, you may also have to deal with an ignition interlock device. An IID is typically installed in the steering column of any car that is titled or registered in your name and usually costs around $1,000.00 or more per year of use. For people who are married and in a two-car household, expect to pay another $2,000.00 or more if all goes smoothly. If there are any equipment issues, such as breakages or installation problems, there’ll be additional charges that could run into the thousands. Keep in mind if it’s part of your court order you won’t be allowed to get a driver’s license without first showing proof to the Department of Transportation that you successfully installed an ignition interlock device in any vehicle titled or registered in your name. Driving your car without one: don't even think about it. The penalties for being caught for operating a motor vehicle without a court-ordered ignition interlock device include state criminal charges that could result in months, possibly even a year, of jail time and thousands of dollars more in fines.
Also keep in mind that if the court orders you to have an ignition interlock device it means your new legal limit for the time you have the device installed is .02% blood alcohol concentration. For most people, that’s a single drink or even less than one drink. If you’re caught driving after just a half drink to a drink or more, that could result in a prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC) as a second offense charge. That basically is a second offense for drunk driving, punishable by up to six months in jail, thousands of dollars’ worth of fines, court costs, and additional expenses.
Do these expenses sound like a lot? Because we didn’t even talk about your driver’s license fees and reinstatement costs with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Not to mention the inconvenience and embarrassment of having an occupational license or needing to blow into an ignition interlock device before you can start your car when picking up your friends or your children to go someplace.
First you'll face the towing and impound costs for your vehicle. And of course when you have an occupational license that doesn’t mean your need to drive places will align with the times of your "driving windows." You will of course have to drive to meet people and do things outside those times. But unless you want to risk going to jail and facing criminal charges, you’ll have to hire taxis and rideshares or rely on friends and family members to go places. If it doesn’t cost you dollars, it will cost you pride.
Your first offense drunk driving conviction in Wisconsin may wind up costing you over $10,000 depending on how things go. That number could be many times higher if you end up losing your job either now or years from now as a result of this conviction. A first OWI charge isn’t a guaranteed conviction. Get your case evaluated by an experienced Wisconsin OWI attorney to learn about your chances for reduced charges or even dismissal.
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