12.5 Merciless Consequences of an "OWI with Injury" in Wisconsin
An OWI on its own is no joke. You'll face jail time, thousands of dollars of fines, license revocation, insurance rate increases, and a criminal record. And if your drunk driving causes an injury or has another additional charge? The penalties get much worse. An OWI causing injury is always a criminal charge in Wisconsin, and not a light one.
What is an OWI with Injury?
An OWI with injury or an OWI causing injury is exactly what it says. If you operate a vehicle drunk and cause "bodily harm" or "great bodily harm" to somebody other than yourself, you can be accused of an OWI with injury. Under Wisconsin law, "bodily harm" means “physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.” This is a broad definition; even bruises and small cuts could be included under bodily harm if the jury rules that way.
There's an even murkier line between "bodily harm" and "great bodily harm." Wisconsin law defines "great bodily harm" as injury that "creates a substantial risk of death, or causes serious permanent disfigurement, or causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ or other serious bodily injury." Words like “serious” and “prolonged” do not have objective, scientific meanings in law, and can be the subject of opinion and argument. Thus, what seems like an “injury” to one jury may be deemed “great bodily harm” by another. Yet that disagreement on definition is incredibly serious. The punishments for drunk driving causing injury range from stiff to life-destroying.
The Penalties for Causing Injury with a Motor Vehicle while Intoxicated
1st Offense OWI with Injury
An ordinary first offense OWI in Wisconsin (referred to in other states as DUI or DWI) carries no jail time and up to $300 in fines. However, an OWI with injury causing "bodily harm" carries $2,000 in fines and as much as a year behind bars! Wisconsin has now implemented mandatory jail time for drunk driving that leads to bodily harm. You'll always get at least 30 days in jail for an OWI with Injury if you're convicted, and most judges will be happy to give you more.
2nd Offense OWI Injury
A second OWI without injury is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,100 fine.
If this is your second injury-causing OWI, you'll find yourself facing a Class H felony charge that could result in a $10,000 fine and six years of your life spent in prison.
Penalties for injuring people under 16 years old while Operating While Intoxicated
Expect double penalties if the injured party was under 16. Penalties are not restricted to jail time and fines, though. You could have your license revoked for up to 2 years, be forced to install an inconvenient and humiliating Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your car, wait 60 days before being able to get an occupational license, and, if the OWI happened when you were operating a commercial vehicle, you may have a lifetime CDL disqualification!
12.5 consequences = 12.5 YEARS for Felony OWI with Injury in Wisconsin
However, every OWI causing great bodily harm conviction carries the same penalty: a Class F felony charge. You could go to prison for 12.5 years and have to pay a $25,000 fine. The only drunk driving charge more serious than an OWI causing great bodily harm is Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated. And it all hinges on whether or not the injuries were "serious."
Criminal Lawyer Defenses for OWI with Injury in Wisconsin
OWIs with injury are one of the trickiest crimes in the books. A very small difference in the jury's understanding of the facts of your case or the laws on the books can spell the difference between losing nothing, losing a month of your life, or losing your future prospects for employment. That's why it's so important to have legal representatives who know what's at stake and how the prosecution will behave. At Grieve Law in Waukesha, our experienced defense attorneys have handled case after case for people accused of driving while intoxicated. We have worked hard to build a solid reputation for reliability, service, and success. Call us today for your free consultation, and let us fight for you to get your charges reduced or dropped!
Wisconsin Statute 346.63(2)(a) addresses the causing of “injury to another person by the operation of a vehicle while...the person has a prohibited alcohol concentration”. This article is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as an attorney client relationship. If you are facing charges for OWI with injury in Wisconsin, it is highly recommended you seek experienced legal counsel. Grieve Law is located in Brookfield (between Waukesha and Milwaukee) drawing clients from Racine, Kenosha, and Madison and Wisconsin counties like Walworth, Jefferson, Dodge, Washington and Ozaukee. Contact us for a free initial consultation.