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Under 21, and Busted for OWI in Wisconsin? Don’t Give Up Yet

Wisconsin’s Laws and Penalties for Minors Facing Drunk Driving Charges

Under 21 OWI Wisconsin

Getting ticketed for underage drinking is bad enough, but if you’re under 21 and charged with driving drunk you’re facing some serious penalties. Remember, though, charges don’t necessarily mean you’ll be convicted. Grieve Law’s experienced OWI attorneys defend against underage drinking charges to secure the best possible outcome.

An OWI Charge in Wisconsin Gets You Two Tickets

You’ve probably heard drunk driving charges referred to as a “D.U.I.”  (Driving Under the Influence), but in Wisconsin the term is actually “O.W.I.” (Operating While Intoxicated). With an OWI charge, you will get two tickets: one is for Operating While Intoxicated and the other is for having a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (P.A.C.) of more than .08 in your blood.

 Wisconsin's Absolute Sobriety Law

Wisconsin’s “Not a Drop” alcohol law, Wisconsin Statutes Sec. 346.63(2m), applies to all persons under the age of 21. This law mandates absolute sobriety behind the wheel, making it illegal for anyone underage to operate a motor vehicle after consuming any amount of alcohol.

You may not realize this, but under Wisconsin's OWI statute a person “operates a vehicle” when he controls any part of a vehicle needed to make the automobile move. You can actually be charged with an OWI just for being intoxicated while sitting in the driver’s seat of parked car with the engine running. The car does not have to be moving for you to be charged.

OWI charges don’t apply just to cars, either. You can be charged with OWI while operating a boat, a snowmobile, an ATV, or any other motorized device. You could even be mowing your lawn on a riding mower and be charged.

If you've been arrested for an underage DUI in Wisconsin, you need to understand the serious consequences of getting an OWI conviction under the age of 21, and how an experienced drunk driving lawyer can help you fight an absolute sobriety charge.

Underage OWI under 21 fines penalties sentencing WI Fine sentence OWI DUI underage Wisconsin

Harsh Penalties for an Underage OWI Conviction in Wisconsin:

If the prosecution convinces a judge you had any alcohol in your system when you were pulled over, you can be found guilty of violating the Absolute Sobriety Law and face serious penalties:

  • $200 fine
  • Immediate 3-month license suspension
  • 4 Driver’s License demerit points
  • May apply for an occupational license immediately with SR-22 insurance form
  • Fine & suspension doubled if passenger under age of 16 is in vehicle at the time
  • The OWI conviction will remain on your driving record for five years

Anyone under the age of 21 who is arrested on an OWI charge with a BAC above .08 faces the same consequences as a person of legal drinking age, in addition to Wisconsin’s “Not a Drop” penalties.

Refusing a field sobriety test or chemical test at the scene will result in an immediate license revocation for a minimum of 1 year.

Depending on your circumstances, an Absolute Sobriety ticket can be amended. Before you resign yourself to having an underage OWI conviction on your record, contact an experienced OWI attorney.

First Offense Under 21 OWI Milwaukee

Learn more about Drunk Driving Statistics in Wisconsin

Underage Drinking Tickets During DUI Arrest

Underage drinking is a non-criminal offense and you won’t get jail time, but an OWI conviction stays on your driving record for 5 years and will have a devastating impact on your insurance rates. If you are in college and convicted of an OWI, you may face additional penalties from your school, such as losing a scholarship.

Wisconsin’s Drinking Laws for Minors

Wisconsin Statute 125.07 (4)(b) says you are guilty of an underage drinking violation if: you are underage and knowingly possess or consume alcohol and are not accompanied by a parent, guardian, or spouse of legal drinking age.

Drunk Driving AND Underage

If you are under the age of 21 and arrested for an OWI in Wisconsin, you will face underage OWI penalties AND likely further penalties related to underage drinking. Underage drinking tickets are generally split into two categories: Underage (age 17-20) and Juvenile (under 17).

Juvenile penalties are generally more lenient and remain mostly confidential.

Juvenile Alcohol Possession or Consumption

  • $50-$500 in fines
  • 30 days-2 year suspension of driving privileges
  • Possible substance abuse assessment and treatment

Underage Alcohol Possession or Consumption

  • $100-$1,000 in fines
  • 30 days-2 year driver’s license suspension
  • Possible substance abuse assessment and treatment

Juvenile Purchasing Alcohol or Misrepresenting Age

  • $250-$500 in fines
  • 30 days-2 year driver’s license suspension
  • Possible substance abuse assessment and treatment

Underage Purchasing Alcohol or Misrepresenting Age

  • $250-$1,000 in fines
  • 30 days-2 years driving privilege suspension
  • Possible substance abuse assessment and treatment

Juvenile Using or Possessing a Fake ID

  • $100-$500 in fines
  • 30 days-2 year suspension of driving privileges
  • Possible substance abuse assessment and treatment

Underage Use or Possession of a Fake ID

  • $300-$1,250 in fines
  • 30-90 day driver’s license suspension

Driver Under 21 with Alcohol in Vehicle (Opened or Unopened)

  • $20-$400 fine
  • 30 days-2 year suspension of driving privileges

Driver’s license suspensions for Underage and Juvenile drinking convictions begin when the driver is eligible to:

  • Have their license issued for the first time
  • Renew their license
  • Reinstate their license from a previous suspension or revocation

In some cases, an experienced DUI attorney can help you get your underage drinking and driving charges reduced or even dismissed. Many Wisconsin municipalities allow offenders opportunities to participate in alcohol awareness programs which may lead to having the ticket removed from your record.

Before you do anything else, contact Tom Grieve for a free consultation and find out how an attorney may be able to fight your DUI charges.

Wisconsin is Getting Tougher on Drunk Driving

Starting in January 2017, Wisconsin instituted even harsher penalties for repeat DUI offenders. Over 21? Learn about other Wisconsin drunk driving penalties: 

Milwaukee Defense Lawyer for Underage DUI ChargesUnderage DUI Fines penalties sentencing Milwaukee Attorney

A drunk driving conviction when you're under 21 puts you behind the 8-ball for a long time. It will stay on your record for 5 years, your insurance rates will go up dramatically, and you could lose a scholarship if you're in college. An experienced OWI lawyer knows the best way to deal with underage OWI charges and can help you save money and protect your future.

If you were arrested for underage drinking and driving in Wisconsin, you need the best OWI attorney in Milwaukee to beat your drunk driving charges. Tom Grieve spent years as a prosecutor working on OWI cases. He knows the prosecution’s game plan better than any other defense lawyer in Milwaukee. Tom's defense work has earned him national recognition and he is known for getting his clients’ OWI charges reduced or eliminated altogether.

Contact award-winning Milwaukee OWI attorney Tom Grieve to schedule your FREE OWI case evaluation.

By: Attorney Tom Grieve on 03/06/2020

Tom Grieve is a former prosecutor who now runs a successful Wisconsin criminal defense law firm with offices in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Madison. If are facing new charges initial phone consultations are free: contact online or call 262-786-7100.

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