What Are the Penalties for an OWI?

The penalty for an OWI in Wisconsin depends largely on whether the person has any prior OWI convictions. With no prior record, an OWI will result in fines, license revocation, and other consequences, but usually no jail or probation.

Starting with a second offense, OWI convictions carry mandatory jail sentences:

  • Second Offense – five days minimum, up to six months maximum.
  • Third Offense – forty-five days minimum, up to one year maximum.
  • Fourth Offense – a felony conviction, 60 days minimum, up to six years in prison.

Higher offenses carry mandatory prison sentences, and all OWIs involve other penalties such as fines, license revocation, and mandatory classes or treatment. For any OWI accusation, it pays to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with all of your options to try to avoid or reduce the penalties you might be facing!

What Aggravating Circumstances Exist for an OWI?

Beyond the mandatory penalties, there are other circumstances that might cause someone to be facing increased penalties for an OWI case. These are called “aggravating circumstances”. 

Some aggravating circumstances increase the maximum and minimum penalties for the OWI. For example, if there are any children in the vehicle, or if there is an accident that causes injury or death, the penalties can increase greatly.

Other aggravating circumstances do not increase the maximum or minimum penalties but affect how a judge might sentence someone within the range of applicable penalties. The most common factor is the level of intoxication—a person who is barely over a 0.08 will frequently receive a much shorter sentence than someone who is two or three times the legal limit. Other common aggravating factors include things like whether the person was driving unsafely or crashed, whether the person was uncooperative or dishonest with the police, and whether the person has a criminal record besides the OWI case.

Madison OWI Lawyers

If you are charged with a Wisconsin OWI, you must contact Welch & Schmeiser Criminal Defense Group. Our Madison attorneys take a science-based approach to defending our client’s OWI cases, which has routinely led to beneficial case outcomes. Seeking the guidance of experienced legal counsel could spell out the difference between a criminal record, and a dismissal of charges.