It’s more important than ever to have an experienced DUI attorney representing you when you’re facing DUI charges for the fourth time. An aggressive Wisconsin drunk driving attorney familiar with defense strategies for these types of cases can make the difference between being a convicted felon for life, or keeping your basic civil and constitutional rights.
1. Your 4th OWI is a felony conviction
A 4th OWI offense in Wisconsin is charged as a Class H felony under any circumstances as of January 1st, 2022. This is in stark contrast to Wisconsin drunk driving laws of twenty years ago, which allowed a driver to rack up a record number of OWI convictions without facing prison time.
Per data collected in February 2022: in Wisconsin, 24,474 drivers had four OWI convictions during 2021. A felony conviction stays with you the rest of your life and has many serious consequences, including:
- Reduced job opportunities
- No longer eligible for federal assistance
- Ability to visit other countries is limited or denied
- You lose your right to vote until two years after your probation has ended
- You lose your right to own a firearm for the rest of your life
When you apply for a job, a professional license or even an apartment, you will be required to disclose your conviction. If you don’t and it’s later found out you lied, you can lose the job, the license or the apartment. A felony conviction plus the prison time and financial burdens that go with it are a huge strain on relationships.
Your best chance of avoiding a felony conviction by having the charges reduced to a misdemeanor (or even dismissed) is with an experienced DUI attorney on your side.
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How long does a fourth offense OWI stay on your record?
A felony fourth OWI stays on your Wisconsin driving and criminal record for the rest of your life.
What’s more: Wisconsin’s lifetime look-back policy means when you’re charged with a fourth OWI it doesn’t matter how many years or even decades it’s been since your last drunk driving arrest.
How much does a 4th DUI cost?
4th DUI fines, surcharges, and a mandatory alcohol and drug assessment can easily exceed $15,000 (not a typo). Depending on the circumstances of your 4th DUI arrest, the fines can escalate quickly. And this doesn’t include additional expenses like impound fees, missing work or losing your job, the cost of an IID for years, paying for high-risk auto insurance and more.
Can a 4th OWI conviction be expunged?
No. It’s basically impossible to expunge a drunk driving conviction in a Wisconsin court for any reason. Please keep this in mind.
Even if expungement were possible, it only affects your public record. The DOT doesn’t recognize expungements and OWI offenses will be on your driving record forever. Your best bet is hiring a proven drunk driving attorney to fight your 4th OWI charges before being convicted.
Can you beat a 4th DUI?
It's possible to get 4th DUI charges dismissed, and your odds of success depend on the quality of attorney you hire. Grieve Law attorneys have a proven track record of getting drunk driving charges reduced or even dropped.
How to beat a 4th offense OWI
More than 19,000 drivers in the State of Wisconsin have at least four OWI convictions. You CAN fight felony drunk driving charges, but a Fee-to-Plea™ lawyer won’t want to.
Grieve Law attorneys won’t push you through the system with a quick and easy plea deal. We’ll mount a strong defense, challenging the accuracy of the breathalyzer test, blood draw or field sobriety test you were given and looking for any mistakes made by the arresting officers. Our goal is to reduce the charges against you in any way legally possible.
Each drunk driving case is unique. In general, these are some of the defense strategies to consider:
Illegal traffic stop
You have grounds to fight your 4th OWI charge if you were stopped without due cause. A good lawyer can call into question the arresting officer’s motivations. If there was no legitimate basis for pulling you over, the officer made an illegal stop. In other cases, what starts as a legal stop becomes illegal if the amount of time you’re pulled over exceeds the initial cause, or the scope of the stop isn’t justified by the facts of the case.
The legality of a traffic stop is complex and deeply rooted in Wisconsin case law. Our attorneys are familiar with the legitimate reasons a Wisconsin DUI stop can be justified in court, and aren’t afraid to challenge the “fact pattern” asserted by your arresting officer.
Poorly conducted field sobriety test
The state of Wisconsin has strict standards for field sobriety tests. If the equipment wasn’t properly calibrated or procedures weren’t followed correctly, there is cause to challenge the test. An incorrectly administered FST cannot be used as evidence to convict you of driving drunk.
Grieve Law attorneys are the ONLY drunk driving lawyers in Wisconsin who are former prosecutors AND certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the Standardized Field Sobriety Test Training Program. If the cops did something wrong during your FST, we’ll find it.
Chemical test results compromised
Wisconsin laws specify exactly where and how a DUI blood test can be performed. A blood test for blood alcohol content has strict standards. If correct procedures for handling and processing the blood sample are not followed, or the equipment hasn’t been maintained properly, the accuracy of the test results can be called into question.
Time of test for BAC
If you weren’t given a blood test for some time after your arrest, the “rising blood alcohol defense” could come into play. It takes time for the alcohol you drink to be fully absorbed into your bloodstream. In some cases even if the defendant’s BAC was over the legal limit when drawn, it may have been below the limit while they were actually driving.
A strategy known as collateral attack is a possible way to reduce the penalties you receive for a fourth OWI. When successful, one of your prior OWI convictions is attacked and can no longer be counted as a prior offense for sentencing purposes. This could make the difference between being convicted as a 3rd OWI misdemeanor offense or a 4th OWI felony offense. There’s no limit to how many of your prior OWIs can be collaterally attacked. This is a complicated defense strategy and you absolutely need a qualified attorney representing your case for it to succeed.
A Fee-to-Plea™ lawyer will say, “There’s not much you can do.” Be wary!
A fourth OWI charge doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be convicted. Grieve Law attorneys will investigate your 4th OWI arrest and determine the best defense against a felony conviction. If the State refuses to agree to drop charges, we prepare your case for trial and fight to have the charges and penalties reduced to minimize the damage.