What are the DUI penalties in Wisconsin?

What are the DUI penalties in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense. Technically referred to as operating while intoxicated (OWI) in Wisconsin, a drunk driving charge carries severe penalties, with the specific penalties that are on the table being determined based upon the defendant’s criminal history and other factors.

If you are facing a DUI (or OWI) charge in Wisconsin, it is important that you know what is at risk. Here is an overview of the DUI penalties in Wisconsin, followed by a brief discussion of the “collateral consequences” of a DUI conviction:

Overview of Wisconsin’s DUI Penalties

Wisconsin law imposes different penalties for first-time and repeat DUI offenders. In fact, the penalties for repeat offenders increase all the way up through a tenth offense. Here is an overview of the statutory penalties that apply in “standard” DUI cases (those that do not involve an accident or other aggravating factors) for first, second, and third-time offenders:

First-Time DUI Offenders

If this is your first time being charged with a DUI, you are facing financial penalties and a driver’s license suspension. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.15 or above, you may also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle or participate in a 24/7 sobriety program. The penalties for a first-time DUI offense in Wisconsin are:

  • $150 to $300 in fines
  • $435 OWI surcharge
  • Six to nine month driver’s license suspension
  • IID installation or 24/7 sobriety program for 12 months (if your BAC was 0.15 or above)

Second-Time DUI Offenders

If this is your second time being charged with a DUI, the penalties you are facing depend on whether (i) you received your prior DUI conviction within the past 10 years, and (ii) your prior conviction involved great bodily harm or death. If your prior DUI conviction is more than 10 years old and did not involve great bodily harm or death, the penalties you are facing include:

  • $150 to $300 in fines
  • $435 OWI surcharge
  • Six to nine month driver’s license suspension
  • IID installation or 24/7 sobriety program for 12 months (if your BAC was 0.15 or above)

If your prior DUI is less than 10 years old or involved great bodily harm or death, the penalties you are facing include:

  • $350 to $1,100 in fines
  • $435 OWI surcharge
  • Five days to six months in jail
  • 12 to 18 month driver’s license suspension
  • IID installation or 24/7 sobriety program for 12 to 18 months

Third-Time DUI Offenders

Once you get to a third-time DUI offense in Wisconsin, the penalties begin to increase dramatically. For a third offense (regardless of the specifics of your prior convictions), you will face penalties including:

  • $600 to $2,000 in fines
  • $435 OWI surcharge
  • 45 days to one year in jail
  • 24 to 36 month driver’s license suspension
  • IID installation or 24/7 sobriety program for 12 to 36 months

Certain factors can increase the penalties that are on the table. For example, if you were arrested for DUI with a minor in your vehicle, or if you caused an accident resulting in injury or death, you could be at risk for penalties including:

  • Minor Passenger Under Age 16 – For a first-time offense, a DUI with a minor passenger carries up to a $1,100 fine, five days to six months in jail, driver’s license suspension of six to nine months, and 12 to 18 months of IID use or 24/7 sobriety program participation (penalties increase for repeat offenders).
  • Accident Resulting in Injury – With no prior offense or breath test refusal, causing an accident while driving under the influence carries up to a $2,000 fine, 30 days to 12 months in jail, driver’s license suspension of 12 to 24 months, and up to 24 months of IID use or 24/7 sobriety program participation. With a prior offense or breath test refusal, the penalties increase to a $10,000 fine, up to six years in prison, driver’s license suspension of 12 to 24 months, and up to 24 months of IID use or 24/7 sobriety program participation.
  • Accident Resulting in Great Bodily Harm – If you cause an accident that results in great bodily harm while driving under the influence, you can face up to a $25,000 fine and 12.5 years in prison, plus a 24-month driver’s license suspension and 24 months of IID use or 24/7 sobriety program participation after your release.
  • Accident Resulting in Death – Causing an accident while driving under the influence is prosecuted as the crime of “homicide while OWI” in Wisconsin. If convicted, you can face up to a $100,000 fine and 25 years in prison (increased to 40 years if you have a prior DUI conviction), plus a five-year driver’s license suspension and five years of IID use or 24/7 sobriety program participation after your release.

Understanding the Collateral Consequences of a DUI Conviction

In addition to the penalties imposed by the Wisconsin Statutes, individuals who are convicted of DUI (or OWI) in Wisconsin can face various collateral consequences as well.  These are consequences outside of your sentence that can impact virtually all aspects of your life. For example, having a DUI conviction on your criminal record in Wisconsin can lead to:

  • Suspension or expulsion from school (or difficulty getting into college)
  • Loss of your current job
  • Difficulty finding a job (since many companies are hesitant to hire individuals with criminal records)
  • Difficulty finding housing (since many landlords and lenders conduct criminal background checks as well)
  • Increased car insurance rates
  • Professional discipline or loss of your professional license
  • Challenges related to child custody, eligibility for government assistance, immigration status, and other issues

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Wisconsin DUI Defense Lawyer

Are you facing a DUI (or OWI) charge in Wisconsin? If so, you must speak with a DUI lawyer about your case. To learn about the defenses you may be able to use to fight your DUI, call Mays Law Office at 608-257-0440 or request a free consultation online today.

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