Category Archives: DUI

Consequences of Multiple DUI Convictions in Wisconsin

Drunk driving remains a major problem in Wisconsin. According to the Department of Transportation, approximately 24,000 drivers are convicted of drunk driving offenses in the state every year. Wisconsin drunk driving offenses are charged as OWIs (operating while intoxicated). While all intoxicated driving charges need to be taken seriously, it is especially important for those who already have a prior OWI conviction. Indeed, after a first conviction, any subsequent Wisconsin OWI conviction will carry heightened penalties.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Wisconsin

On January 1st, 2017, Wisconsin put in place new drunk driving penalties. The new legislation, which was signed in April of 2016 by Governor Scott Walker, is designed to try to reduce the rate of intoxicated driving in the state. The updated penalties are substantially more harsh on repeat offenders. As of now, the consequences for multiple Wisconsin DUI offenses are as follows:

Second Offense

  • Skyrocketing insurance costs;
  • Financial penalties, including up to $1,100 in fines;
  • Jail time, between five days and six months;
  • License suspension for up to 18 months; and
  • Possible installation of an interlock ignition on your car.

Third Offense

  • Skyrocketing insurance rates;
  • $2,000 in fines, which can be increased further depending on your level of intoxication;
  • Jail time, between 45 days and one year;
  • Loss of license for up to three years; and
  • The mandatory installation of an interlock ignition device on your car.

Fourth Offense (Plus Additional Offenses)

  • Skyrocketing insurance premiums;
  • Mandatory felony charge;
  • In excess of $10,000 in fines;
  • Substantial jail time, likely to be at least five years starting at your fifth offense; and
  • Automatic license revocation, lasting for at least three years.

Defending an OWI Charge

As the penalties for multiple drunk driving convictions can be extremely harsh, you need to take immediate action following an OWI arrest. It is imperative that you work with an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer who can help to protect your legal rights. In crafting a defense strategy, you attorney will consider several different things, including:

  • Your due process rights, including assessing the existence of probable cause in your case;
  • Whether or not there is sufficient evidence to sustain the charges against you; and
  • The existence of opportunities to seek a reduction in your charges or your penalties.

Ultimately, a proper legal defense strategy should always be narrowly tailored to the individual circumstances of each case. In some cases, it may make sense to aggressively fight the OWI charges. Whereas in other cases, the best strategy may be to focus on seeking a reduction in punishment.

Contact Our Office Today to Speak with a Skilled Appleton DUI Lawyer

At Hammett Bellin & Oswald LLC, our experienced Appleton criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience handling DUI cases. If you need legal assistance, please get in touch our team today by calling 920-720-0000. We offer initial consultations are free of charge. From our offices in Appleton and Neenah, we represent clients throughout Northeastern Wisconsin, including in Wautoma and New London.

Practice Responsible Drinking and Safe Driving this Holiday Season

The holidays are here, and for many, that means celebrating with family, friends, and copious amounts of alcohol.

Alcohol inhibits a driver’s ability to perceive his or her environment and stay within his or her lane, making the driver a danger not only to others on the road, but to him- or herself. Because of the celebrations that occur from November through early January, law enforcement in Wisconsin heightens their presence on state and local roads to catch drunk drivers and prevent tragedies. Wisconsin has the highest rate of drunk driving in the United States, with more than a quarter of adults admitting to driving despite knowing they were legally intoxicated.

If you have been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), contact an experienced Neenah OWI lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Penalties for OWI in Wisconsin

Any individual who is found to be driving while his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or higher may be charged with OWI. In Wisconsin, the penalties for this charge are as follows:

1st Offense

  • $150 to $300 in fines; and
  • Six to nine months driver’s license suspension.

2nd Offense

  • Five days to six months in jail;
  • $300 to $1,100 in fines;
  • 12 to 18 month driver’s license suspension; and
  • Ignition interlock device.

3rd Offense

  • 30 days to one year in jail;
  • Ignition interlock device;
  • $600 to $2,000 in fines; and
  • Two to three years in jail.

Avoid an OWI or a Tragedy

The best way to prevent an OWI charge and protect yourself and others is to choose not to drink and drive. Instead, drive to and from parties with a designated sober driver or volunteer to be the sober driver yourself. If you are hosting a holiday party, offer your guests the option to stay overnight if they become too intoxicated to drive home. Do not allow a drunk guest to drive away from your party.

Other options for safe travel during the holiday season include public transportation and rideshare services like Uber or Lyft.

Wisconsin DUI Attorney

If you have been charged with OWI in Wisconsin, work with an experienced Appleton DWI attorney. It might be possible for you to have your penalties reduced or your charge dismissed entirely. Contact our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to schedule your free legal consultation with us.

What are the Top 5 States for Drunken Driving?

States where the most people drink and drive

Although drunken driving doesn’t occur as often as it did in the past, this activity remains one of the most common criminal offenses. About 290,000 Americans suffered injuries in 2013 auto accidents that involved inebriated motorists, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Every week, almost 200 people die in these crashes. A recent survey revealed that intoxicated driving happens more frequently in the northern states.

Top States

The survey asked 1,000 residents of each state if they had operated vehicles after drinking. North Dakota came in first because only 12 respondents claimed that they hadn’t made this mistake. Delaware ranked second; 843 individuals admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol. Drinking-related accidents killed 427 Delawareans between 2003 and 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Massachusetts, Nebraska and Louisiana also ranked among the top five states.

North Dakota

Residents of the Peace Garden State may disagree with this ranking. It’s possible that they answered the survey more honestly than people in other regions. However, various statistics suggest that North Dakota truly does have the most drunken drivers. The state’s intoxicated motorists cause a higher rate of fatal accidents than drinkers in any other part of the country, according to MarketWatch. North Dakota also ranks first in beer consumption and youth binge drinking.

Our State

Although it no longer appears among the top five states, Wisconsin has also experienced widespread drunken driving. The federal government conducted a national DUI survey in 2009. It identified Wisconsin as the state with the most adults who admitted to operating vehicles while intoxicated. Alcohol triggered more than one out of three deadly accidents during 2012, according to official figures.

Improvement

Fortunately, Wisconsin has achieved significant progress in recent years. Inebriated motorists caused 163 fewer deaths in 2013 than they did during 2003. Injuries dropped by almost three-fifths, according to Insurance Journal. The total accident count also fell considerably. This news is encouraging, but it’s important to remember that drunken drivers continue to hurt or kill Wisconsinites every day.

If you were recently involved in an alcohol-related crash, HBO Law Firm can help. Our personal injury and criminal defense lawyers handle a wide range of cases. We take the time to conduct thorough research and develop the most effective legal strategies. To protect your rights and ensure a fair judgment or settlement, please contact our Neenah and Appleton, WI law office today.

What Should You Do After Being Arrested for DUI?

DUI_000023889836_Small

What to Do – and Not to Do – in the Hours, Days and Weeks That Follow

Being arrested on suspicion of DUI can be a disorienting and traumatic experience. If you’re not prepared for it, there’s a good chance that you could do or say something that increases the situation’s legal and financial risk. Fortunately, there’s a “right” way to approach a DUI arrest as well. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, follow these tried-and-true steps.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer

The first step you should take in the wake of a DUI arrest is to contact an experienced lawyer who understands Wisconsin DUI law. An attorney can examine the specific circumstances surrounding your case and determine how best to proceed. It’s important to note that he or she may not always tell you what you want to hear: In some cases, the options for fighting DUI charges are relatively narrow. On the other hand, working with a lawyer almost always boosts the likelihood of securing the best possible outcome in your case.

Request an Administrative Hearing

Although the rules may vary by jurisdiction, it’s usually prudent to request an administrative hearing for your charges. A hearing could have several advantages for your case. It also offers the best chance for your lawyer to cross-examine the arresting officer and other law enforcement staff.

Determine Whether the BAC Reading Is Faulty

Although blood alcohol content tests are more reliable than field breath analysis tests, they’re still subject to human and mechanical error. A seasoned attorney can inject substantial doubt into the circumstances surrounding such a test. Fruitful lines of argument may include:

•    Poor or inaccurate calibration of the testing machine
•    Mechanical defects in testing equipment
•    Gaps in the chain of custody for blood samples
•    Poor storage of blood samples
•    Lack of proof of intoxication

Explore Your Options for Sentence Mitigation

Even if your blood content test is determined to be accurate, you may be able to reduce your sentence by consenting to rehabilitation, ignition interlock usage and other practices. Your attorney can outline the options that apply in your specific situation.

Find a Drunk Driving and DUI Attorney in Neenah and Appleton, WI

No matter how well you understand Wisconsin’s criminal code or know your rights after being arrested on suspicion of DUI, an experienced lawyer can boost your chances of fighting your charges and mitigating the personal and professional damage. We’ve represented hundreds of clients accused of DUI and stand ready to do the same in your case. To learn more about what we can do for you or to schedule a no-obligation consultation, call us at (920) 720-0000 or fill out our online contact form.

Is Getting Treatment the Key to Winning Your Case?

How substance abuse treatment can save your life in more ways than one

Being charged with a DUI is a serious event. For many people, it’s a chance for reflection and personal development. Happily, there’s growing evidence that such reflection and personal development may actually reduce the severity of DUI-related penalties. In some cases, enrolling in a substance abuse treatment program may help you win your DUI case outright.

How Do Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Work?

Alcohol and substance abuse treatment programs come in many different forms. There are two basic types: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient programs require participants to live in dormitory-style housing or hotel-like quarters and may restrict access into and out of the program facility. On the other hand, outpatient programs allow participants to come and go at will. Some evidence suggests that outpatient program participants have higher relapse rates. However, both types of treatment are considered effective.

Whereas some treatment programs may be associated with a well-known organization like Alcoholics Anonymous, others may be standalone organizations run as nonprofit or for-profit entities. Treatment typically includes education, emotional and psychological support, dietary support, and other channels that collectively improve the health and well-being of program participants.

DUI Diversion Programs

While alcohol and substance abuse treatment programs are useful and even life-saving in their own right, many states and counties are now encouraging first-time and repeat DUI offenders to enroll in treatment after being charged with driving under the influence. This legal “encouragement” is known as a DUI diversion program. Although DUI diversion programs come in different forms, their basic characteristics include:

• Possibly entering a guilty plea
• Having no prior criminal record
• Beginning treatment within 45 days of the hearing at which the diversion program is established
• Possibly paying a fee to participate in treatment

Defendants who follow these protocols may face more lenient penalties, enjoy suspended sentencing, and have their charge or guilty plea wiped from their criminal record on a permanent basis. This may be particularly important for repeat offenders who would face serious penalties, including long-term license suspension, in the event of a full conviction.

Find a DUI Attorney for Your Drunk Driving Case in Neenah and Appleton, WI

Combating your recent DUI charge isn’t the only worthwhile reason to enroll in a substance abuse treatment program. In fact, doing so could change your life for the better in numerous ways. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that substance abuse treatment can also help your DUI case. If you’re interested in learning more about the assistance that we can provide as you fight your charges, call us at (920) 720-0000 or fill out our online contact form.

5 Major Consequences of a Drunk Driving Charge

The DUI arrest is only the beginning

Have you ever been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving? It’s not a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, things may only get worse after you’ve been booked and released in preparation for your court date. Here are five of the biggest consequences of a drunk driving charge—and what they could mean for your future as a driver, employee, and family man or woman.

1. You Could Lose Your Job

Many employers have a zero-tolerance policy for DUI. Even if you’ve only been charged with DUI, you could lose your job without warning. If you’re convicted, the likelihood is even higher.

2. You Could Face Hefty Fines

Despite our cultural affinity for social drinking, DUI laws in Wisconsin are just as strict as in many other states. Even for a first offense, you could face a fine of up to $300 for the citation you receive after your arrest. Worse, you could face court costs and other fees that stretch well into four-figure territory. If you’re on a budget, the last thing you want to do is face a drunk driving charge.

3. You May Need to Install an Ignition Interlock Device

You may be able to avoid this after your first offense, but any subsequent DUI conviction will land you with an inconvenient ignition interlock device. IIDs require you to blow into a Breathalyzer tube every time you get into your car. If you don’t blow a clean 0.0, you can’t start the car.

4. You Will Lose Your License Temporarily

Even a first offense requires you to give up your driving privileges for at least six months. For subsequent offenses, you could lose your license for three years. That’s a long time to go without a legal ride.

5. Your Reputation Will Be Affected for Up to 10 Years

DUI convictions remain on your criminal record for up to 10 years. Whenever a prospective employer, landlord, or lender runs a background check on you, it’ll turn up.

Learn More About DUI and Drunk Driving Laws in Appleton and Neenah, WI

Even the most careful folks slip up from time to time. If you’re facing a DUI charge and want to know more about your legal options, we’d be happy to consult with you and advise you on your best course of action. To schedule a convenient meeting with one of our highly professional DUI attorneys, head over to our website to fill out our contact form. You can also check out our videos and other resources.