In Wisconsin, drunk driving is a factor in almost 3,000 injuries and 170 fatalities each year, and operating while intoxicated (OWI) is a criminal offense that can often result in serious consequences. If you are arrested under suspicion of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol and have no prior record, you may be fortunate to avoid some of the more severe criminal penalties that apply for repeat offenders. Under certain circumstances, however, you may face the possibility of a criminal conviction, which can result in jail time, probation, and substantial fines that well exceed those typically associated with a first-time drunk driving offense.
Aggravating Factors in a First-Time OWI Arrest
In most cases, a first conviction for an OWI offense in Wisconsin results in a fine between $150 and $300, plus costs, and the revocation of the offender’s driver’s license for six to nine months. However, several additional factors can result in greater penalties, including:
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.15 or refusing to submit to a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine. If you are found guilty of a first-time OWI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or greater, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for up to a year, which carries with it its own expense. If you are convicted of a refusal to submit to testing, your driver’s license revocation will be one year, and your eligibility for an occupational license will be delayed.
- Driving with a minor under the age of 16 in the vehicle. Having a minor passenger in your car will make what would be a municipal forfeiture a criminal misdemeanor, with increased fines of up to $1,100, an increased revocation period of up to 18 months, and up to six months in jail.
- Causing injury while driving drunk. If it is your first OWI offense, and your operation result in pain or other injuries to another person, you will face fines up to $2,000, revocation of your license for up to two years, and up to one year of incarceration. These penalties may be even higher if you had a passenger under the age of 16 in your vehicle.
- Causing great bodily harm while intoxicated. If drunk driving results in another person having a substantial injury that, for example, can lead to permanent disability or disfigurement, you may be charged with a Class F felony, which carries severe penalties, including up to 12.5 years in prison.
- Homicide while driving intoxicated. The most serious drunk driving offense, causing an accident resulting in another person’s death, can result in Class D felony charges with up to $100,000 in fines, up to 25 years in prison, and a revoked license for five years or more.
No matter what type of intoxicated driving offense you are facing, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can provide quality legal representation.
Contact a Milwaukee, WI Criminal Defense Attorney
An OWI arrest and conviction can change your life, but regardless of the charges you are facing, you are entitled to a defense attorney who can work to ensure your fair treatment under the law. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin and Brown, LLP, our attorneys will explore every option to help you avoid an unreasonable or unjust punishment. Contact a Milwaukee OWI defense lawyer today at 414-271-1440.