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:
- 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.
- 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.