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Facing the sobering reality of a 5th DUI in Wisconsin Felony penalties for your 5th OWI start at 18 months in prison

Written By: Tom Grieve

OWI & Criminal Defense Attorney

In 2024, a 5th offense OWI in Wisconsin is a Class G felony charge carrying extremely severe penalties:

  • Presumptive minimum sentence of 18 months in prison
  • 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 $25,000 in fines
  • 1-3 years required ignition interlock device, if eligible
  • Absolute sobriety is required for an occupational license, if eligible
  • Travel ban to Canada and problems traveling abroad in the European Union

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

Enhanced penalties for a 5th OWI with excessive BAC

Blood Alcohol Content



Max. Fine

.17 - .199 Double 1 year - 20 years $50,000
.20 - .2499 Triple 1.5 years - 30 years $75,000
.25 or greater Quadruple 2 years - 40 years $100,000

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

  • Up to 20 years in jail
  • Up to $50,000 in fines
  • Driver’s license revoked 4-6 years
  • 4-6 years required ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Absolute sobriety required for occupational license

A fifth 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 fifth 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 fifth 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
5th Offense OWI & your record How to beat 5th Offense OWI Payment plans

If convicted of a fifth offense OWI in Wisconsin you will be sentenced to at least 6 months to 10 years in jail, a 2-to-3-year driver’s license revocation, $25,000 in fines plus court costs, surcharges and other fees. A lifetime revocation of driver’s license with no possibility of an occupation license, and much more. Let’s take a closer look. A 5th drunk driving offense in Wisconsin is far worse than a 4th offense. Why? A felony fifth OWI stays on your Wisconsin driving and criminal record for the rest of your life. All your prior OWI convictions count, no matter how long ago they occurred. But that may not even be the worst part. 5th offense felony consequences disrupt your current and future employment opportunities. You lose custody of your children, and the ability to travel abroad. Your eligibility for security clearance or other professional licenses dissipates. Did you want to join the armed forces? That no longer is an option. Lastly, you lose full ability to find housing. This is serious. It needs to stop here. How? Grieve law. We are Wisconsin’s best choice for drunk driving and OWI defense. Our statewide team features multiple former state prosecutors, award winning defense attorneys, field sobriety test instructors, and attorneys who even train other defense attorneys. There’s a reason why when lawyers and police get their own drunk driving arrests, they call us. Most other attorneys claim to be defense lawyers but only handle a few real dui and criminal cases each year. Meanwhile, Grieve Law successfully handles more criminal defense cases than any other firm in the state. Contact us for your free consultation to learn about our flat fees, payment plan options, and what can be done about your case. Also check out our other great OWI content for specific topics about drunk driving defenses, occupational licenses, and other common questions.

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Consequences of a 5th felony drunk driving conviction

A 5th DUI conviction in Wisconsin is a very serious event affecting every aspect of your life, for the rest of your life, including:

  • Employment opportunities
  • Custody of your children
  • Travel abroad
  • Eligibility for security clearance or other professional licenses
  • Ability to join the armed forces
  • Finding housing

Per data collected in February 2022: in Wisconsin, 10,874 drivers had five OWI convictions during 2021. You'll face years of close supervision, even after being released from prison, and you won't be able to vote again until two years after your probation ends. Your lifetime ban on owning a firearm (in effect since your 4th OWI conviction) remains in place.

Don’t let a serious charge turn into an even more serious conviction without a fight. When you’re facing a 5th OWI charge, you can’t afford NOT to call a lawyer.

After 5 DUI convictions in Wisconsin, the charges and penalties become extremely serious

In Wisconsin, when a 4th OWI became a felony offense in 2018, the penalties for higher repeat-offense OWI charges also increased. This means longer prison sentences, bigger fines, and mandatory minimum Wisconsin OWI penalties.

6th DUI in Wisconsin

According to the Wisconsin Statutes, the charges and penalties are the same for a 5th or 6th OWI offense. Don’t count on a judge giving you the minimum sentence if you’ve already been convicted of five prior OWI charges.

7th DUI in Wisconsin

Penalties for a 7th DUI conviction (a Class F felony) include a minimum of 3 years in state prison, up to $25k in fines, license revocation and up to 3 years with a mandatory IID or 24/7 sobriety program.

8th DUI in Wisconsin

The charges and penalties for an 8th DUI are the same as for a 7th – but with seven prior convictions, the judge is unlikely to sentence you to the minimum.

9th DUI in Wisconsin

Your 9th DUI is also a Class F felony charge carrying the same penalties as a 7th or 8th DUI. Penalties can increase dramatically with an excessive BAC or minor under 16 in the vehicle.

10th DUI in Wisconsin

For 10th (and greater) DUI offenses in Wisconsin, you’re facing Class E felony charges. Penalties include up to 15 years in prison, up to $50k in fines and multiple years of license revocation and other driving restrictions.

How long does a 5th OWI stay on your record?

A fifth OWI felony remains 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 fifth OWI it doesn’t matter how many years it’s been since your last drunk driving arrest. All of your prior OWI convictions count, no matter how long ago they occurred.

Can a 5th OWI conviction be expunged?

No. A Wisconsin court will not expunge a 5th drunk driving conviction for any reason. Please keep this in mind.

Even if expungement were a possibility, it would only alter your public record. The DOT doesn’t recognize expungements, so all OWI offenses will be on your driving record forever. Your best move is hiring a proven drunk driving attorney to fight 5th OWI charges before being convicted.

Can a lawyer help me beat 5th OWI charges?

Every case is different. Depending on the circumstances when you were arrested, there may be viable legal means to challenge the legality of your traffic stop or the evidence used to charge you with a 5th OWI.

Grieve Law attorneys have successfully had their clients' OWI charges reduced or even dropped. We will pursue all possible legal pathways to getting your 5th OWI charge dismissed.

How to beat a 5th OWI charge

In every 5th offense OWI charge there are unique circumstances affecting the outcome of your case. You’ll need to discuss the particulars of your arrest with an experienced drunk driving lawyer to learn how YOUR fifth OWI charges could be reduced or dismissed. In general, these are some of the strategies to consider:

Illegal stop

This happens all the time. You might not have broken any traffic laws or done anything wrong, but you got pulled over anyway, which led to your arrest for driving under the influence. If they hadn’t stopped you, you wouldn’t have a fifth OWI charge to deal with. Defending against 5th DUI charges starts with determining whether or not the police had a legal right to stop you.

Improper field sobriety tests

Field sobriety tests and procedures must be followed to exacting standards in order to be admissible as evidence. You can defend against fifth OWI charges even if you were driving under the influence, if the tests weren’t done correctly or evaluated fully.

Blood alcohol test mishandled

Invalid blood alcohol testing happens more often than you’d think. Improperly maintained equipment, human error, or improper storage of the specimen can all produce misleading results which are not admissible as evidence against you.

BAC while driving was below the legal limit

The timing of a BAC test matters a lot, because your blood alcohol level continues to rise after you stop drinking. The “curve defense” asserts that if a person hadn’t been stopped, they would have been home and off the roads before they exceeded the legal limit. We’ve successfully used this defense for other clients, and it may apply to your case.

Challenging prior OWI convictions

A collateral attack defense examines your previous OWI convictions with a view to getting one of them overturned so it can’t count as a prior used for sentencing purposes. When successful, this strategy can reduce a fifth OWI charge to a lesser charge so you’re facing reduced fines and penalties.

Facing 5th or higher DUI charges means your financial future and personal freedom are at serious risk. There may be ways to get your 5th DUI charge reduced or even dropped – but you need an experienced drunk driving lawyer in your corner.

Grieve Law fights felony drunk driving charges

When you’re facing a 5th OWI conviction you need an experienced drunk driving lawyer fighting for your case. The award-winning legal team at Grieve Law has a successful track record of getting their clients’ DUI charges reduced or eliminated.

A successful defense against 5th OWI charges is possible, but a Fee-to-Plea™ lawyer won’t want to. Grieve Law attorneys help Wisconsin drivers protect their rights using every possible legal strategy.

References: Installation of ignition interlock device. Wisconsin Statute § 343.301(1g)(a)2.b. (2022) | Penalty for violating sections 346.62 to 346.64. Wisconsin Statute § 346.65(2)(am)5 (2022) | Suspension and revocation by the courts. Wisconsin Statute § 343.30(1q) (2022) | Penalty for violating sections 346.62 to 346.64. Wisconsin Statute § 346.65 (2022) |

Hear from our clients

A+++ service. Courteous and client focused. I contacted Grieve Law online with a general question in regards to employment law and OWI for guidance. To my surprise I received immediate attention. Joseph called me and spoke with me for 20 minutes about my concern. In that time my question was addressed even though he did not benefit financially from my situation/concern. I only wish that I had contacted Joseph when attempting to contest the citation back in 2017. I did not received this service when hiring my prior attorney. I recommend Joseph/Grieve Law as I can tell that they are "person-focused" and dedicated to helping/providing exceptional service. I can tell that they have a person's best interest in mind.


Meghan N on Grieve Law Google Reviews

I hired the firm to help me with an OWI 2nd offense. I was very pleased with the communication and attention I was given throughout the case. I appreciate the assistance I continue to get even after the case was settled.

Michael S on Grieve Law Google Reviews

Mr. Grieve is a very capable attorney. I recently hired him and his associates (who were lovely) for a DUI where I had a firearm in my center console (CCW permit). I wasn't aware if you were drinking that you can't have your CCW on you in the car, and ultimately they wanted me to sit for six months in jail. Grieve got it dropped completely which is fantastic or my future career would have been nonexistent.

Jake M on Grieve Law Google Reviews

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