Wisconsin OWI Conviction Penalties

1st Offense OWI in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law forbids the operating of a motor vehicle if you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or greater, or if you are showing signs of impairment. If you are required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) in order to drive or if you have 3 or more prior offenses, then your legal blood alcohol concentration while operating a motor vehicle is limited to only .02%. 

In general, most people cannot go to jail for a first offense, unless there are aggravating circumstances. Such circumstances include if a minor under 16 was in the vehicle, or if an injury occurred. A first offense is a traffic conviction, and the possible penalties are:

  1. A forfeiture of $150-$300 plus court costs. The court costs are often higher than the forfeiture.  (However, if somebody was injured, the charge can be a crime, either a misdemeanor or felony, and the fine could be as high as $25,000. If the incident was fatal, the fine can be as high as $100,000.)
  2. Mandatory alcohol and other drug assessment (AODA) and follow through with any recommended treatment.
  3. If a child 16 or under was in the vehicle, the case is enhanced from a traffic ticket to a misdemeanor and there is mandatory jail time of not less than 5 day and not more than 6 months. All penalties are doubled for any OWI offense if there is a child 16 or under in the vehicle at the time of the offense.
  4. License revocation for 6 to 9 months, or 1 year if you refused to take a chemical test. However, you can immediately apply for an occupational license which will allow you to drive to and from work or school or for certain other reasons on the revocation. There is a 30-day wait for an occupational license if there was a refusal. (On a misdemeanor or felony the revocation would be longer and there is a wait for the occupational license.)
  5. If BAC was 0.15 or more on a first offense, the ignition interlock device (IID) is required for one year.

2nd Offense OWI in Wisconsin

Time matters. If your second offense is within 10 years of your first, the penalties are greater. If your second offense is more than 10 years away from your first offense, then the penalties for a first offense apply again. (But if you ever get another offense, then it is a third offense – so you can have a first offense, go more than 10 years and have another first offense, then go more than 10 years and get a third offense.) If the second offense is within 10 years of your first offense, the potential penalties are:

  1. $350-$1,100 fine.
  2. Five days to six months of mandatory jail time.
  3. 12-18 month revocation of your driver’s license. Under normal circumstances, there is a 45-day wait for an occupational license, although it can be longer. 
  4. 12 to 18 months of ignition interlock device (IID). The IID time does not start running until you get either an occupational or regular driver’s license and have an IID installed in any vehicle titled in your name (unless the Court exempts one or more vehicles from having an IID installed). 
  5. If a child 16 or under was in the vehicle, all the possible penalties are doubled.

3rd Offense OWI in Wisconsin

For a third offense, the penalties are:

  1. Fine of $600-$20,000.
  2. Jail time of 45 days to 1 year, or double if a child was in the vehicle.
  3. License suspension for 2-3 years following your jail time, 4-6 years if a child was in the vehicle.
  4. IID or sobriety program for 2-3 years after your jail time, 4 to 6 years if a child was in the vehicle.

These are serious consequences that can negatively affect your life. If you or a loved one are facing OWI charges in Wisconsin, contact Welch & Schmeiser . Our firm’s attorneys understand how Wisconsin views OWI convictions and what your options are if you have repeat OWIs on your record or other factors figure into your arrest. We will maximize your chances of getting back on the road, as soon as possible.