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4th Offense OWI in Wisconsin: 4 Scary Facts & 4 Ways to Fight

Wisconsin 4th offense OWI felony penalties include jail + lifetime license revocation

Your fourth OWI offense is an automatic felony on your record – if convicted

When you’re facing DUI charges for a fourth time it’s more important than ever to have an experienced DUI attorney representing you. No two drunk driving arrests are the same. Our legal team performs an intensive and highly analytical DUI defense process for each and every case.

A Fourth OWI conviction is devastating – but there are ways to fight the charge

4th OWI penalties

As of 2018, a 4th offense OWI in Wisconsin is a Class H felony charge with mandatory penalties:

  • 60 days to 6 years in jail
  • Driver’s license revoked 2-3 years
  • Driver’s license revoked for life with no possibility of occupational license if previously convicted within 15 years
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Absolute sobriety required for occupational license, if eligible
  • 1-3 years required ignition interlock device, if eligible
  • ‘Driver improvement’ surcharge of $435
  • Travel ban to Canada and problems traveling abroad in European Union

As a convicted felon in Wisconsin, you will lose your right to vote, own a gun and participate in certain government programs. A felony on your record can also make it difficult to work in certain industries or have legal custody of your children.

4th OWI + minor under 16

A fourth offense OWI with a minor under 16 in the car increases the penalties:

  • Up to 12 years in jail
  • Up to $20,000 in fines
  • Driver’s license revoked 4-6 years
  • 4-6 years required ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Absolute sobriety required for occupational license

4th OWI + excessive BAC

If your BAC is .17 or higher at the time of your fourth OWI arrest, penalties escalate:

  • BAC .17 to .199 – penalties double
  • BAC .20 to .249 – penalties triple
  • BAC .25 and higher – penalties quadruple

4th OWI causing harm

A fourth offense OWI causing injury is a Class H felony charge with additional penalties:

  • Up to 6 years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Penalties double if the injured person was under 16 years old

A conviction for fourth OWI causing “great bodily harm” is a Class F felony with even harsher penalties:

  • Up to 12.5 years in prison
  • Up to $25,000 in fines
  • Penalties increase if a pregnant woman (unborn child) was in the vehicle

A fourth offense OWI conviction for Homicide While OWI is a Class C felony with the following penalties:

  • Up to 40 years in prison
  • Up to $100,000 in fines
  • Penalties increase if a pregnant woman (unborn child) was in the vehicle

See also:

The below is intended for informational use only and does not constitute legal advice or an attorney relationship. If you are facing a criminal charge in Wisconsin please contact a defense lawyer for a free consultation.

1. It’s a Felony Conviction

In Wisconsin, as of January 1st, 2018, a 4th offense OWI will be charged as a Class H felony under any circumstances. This is a 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. 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 defending your drunk driving case and having the charges reduced to a misdemeanor or even dismissed is by having an experienced DUI attorney on your side. Tom Grieve is a former prosecutor with a successful record of getting the best possible results for his clients.

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2. The Consequences Are Severe

4th Offense DWI in WisconsinYour 4th offense OWI will be charged as a Class H felony. Penalties include:

  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Up to 6 years in prison (minimum 60 days)
  • Lifetime driver’s license revocation with no chance of an occupational license for convictions within 15 years of your last OWI
  • Ignition interlock device required for 1-3 years
  • ‘Driver improvement’ surcharge of $435

Penalties DOUBLE if there was a child under 16 in the vehicle:

  • Up to $20,000 fine
  • Up to 12 years in prison
  • Up to 6 years ignition interlock device requirement

Anyone with three DUI convictions is permanently subject to a PAC (prohibited alcohol concentration) of .02 in Wisconsin, even if the convictions happened in other states. So if you are caught driving with a BAC of .02 or higher you can be charged with Operating with a PAC, 4th Offense.

3. Excessive BAC Escalator

After your third OWI, the penalties double, triple and even quadruple depending on how far over the legal limit you were. Remember, too, after enough OWI convictions the legal blood alcohol content limit is reduced from .08 to .02—making it much easier to be convicted if you’re pulled over, and much more expensive.

  • BAC .17 to .199 – Penalties Double
  • BAC .20 to .2499 – Penalties Triple
  • BAC .25 or higher – Penalties Quadruple

This means if you’re convicted of a 4th OWI and your BAC was .17, you’re now facing a minimum of 120 days in jail and fines up to $20,000. An experienced DUI lawyer knows how to build a powerful defense, including how to challenge the legitimacy and accuracy of breathalyzer and blood tests. 

Don't trust your life to some general practice lawyer. DUI’s and criminal cases are not something that we do: they are basically everything that we do! Free no obligation consult with our team of award winning former state prosecutors for honest answers is just a call away.


4. Your Attorney Matters. A lot.

With so much at stake, a good attorney is essential. Tom Grieve has extensive experience representing OWI cases and has successfully had many OWI charges reduced. As a former prosecutor himself, Tom knows how the other side thinks and, more importantly, how to challenge and outmaneuver them.

Unlike fee to plea lawyers, Tom doesn’t push you through the system with a quick and easy plea deal. He’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.

 You Are Only Guilty If You Are Convicted®

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Drunk Driving Defense Strategies

4th DUI Penalties WisconsinOur Milwaukee DUI defense lawyers use a variety of strategies to have your DUI charge reduced, raising questions about the following:

1. Illegal Stop

If you were stopped without due cause, you have grounds to fight your OWI charge. 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.

2. 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.

3. Chemical Test Not Properly Done

A blood test for blood alcohol content has strict standards. If correct procedures for handling and processing the blood sample are not followed, the accuracy of the test results can be called into question.

4. Time of Test for BAC

It may well be that you weren’t legally intoxicated when you were behind the wheel, since it can take up to 2 hours for alcohol to enter the bloodstream and reach maximum absorption. If you weren’t given a blood test for some time after your arrest, the “rising blood alcohol defense” comes into play.

4th Offense OWI Penalties

Milwaukee OWI Attorney Tom Grieve Represents 4th Offense OWI

If you are facing DUI charges for a fourth time, it’s more important than ever to have an experienced DUI attorney representing you—an attorney like Tom Grieve. As a former prosecutor in Milwaukee, Tom knows both the letter of the law and how OWI cases play out in southeast Wisconsin. No one will mount a stronger defense than Tom. 

Contact the Milwaukee OWI defense attorney to schedule your free initial consultation.

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