Drunk Driving

If you are arrested for drunk driving (OWI) in Wisconsin, you need a lawyer that knows the law. You need a lawyer that can: Help you get an occupational license so you can get back to work. Help keep you out of jail so you don't lose your job. Help you reduce the fines so that one mistake doesn't ruin you financially. The attorneys at Lawton & Cates understand the stakes and know the law of Wisconsin and can help you locally in Madison.

WHAT IS IMPLIED CONSENT?Chemical Testing Breathalyzer
When you are stopped for driving drunk you will be asked to submit to chemical testing of your blood, breath or urine. You should consider the consequences of refusing to submit to chemical testing. In Wisconsin a refusal to submit to chemical testing may result in an automatic revocation of your operating privileges for one or more years. Moreover, a prior refusal is considered a prior offense if you are subsequently stopped and charged with drunk driving. If you agree to chemical testing you also have the right to request an additional test at your expense.

Submitting to chemical testing is different than answering a police officer's questions. You always have a right to remain silent and can refuse to answer questions posed to you. You must tell the officer you wish to exercise your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. The officer will independently ask if you will voluntarily submit to chemical testing of your blood, breath, or urine.

Lawton & Cates, S.C. can advise you on how your case may affect your ability to drive. We can assist you in your defense to any charges that are brought against you. We can also help you obtain an occupational driver's license.

Chemical Testing Walking a Line in WisconsinWHAT ARE WISCONSIN'S LAWS REGARDING OWI?
If you are arrested with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08, you are "per se" intoxicated and no proof of bad driving or other signs of intoxication are necessary. If you have a BAC less than .08, you can be convicted of OWI if there is other evidence of intoxication, such as crossing the center line, hitting another car or failing field sobriety tests.If you are under age 21, Wisconsin has a zero tolerance policy. If your BAC is greater than 0.0 you could be charged with OWI.

THE PENALTIES FOR OWI CONVICTION
First Conviction:
In addition to facing a high monetary forfeiture and other associated court costs, your driving privileges will be revoked for 6 to 9 months following your first OWI conviction in Wisconsin. You will also be required to attend a mandatory alcohol education program and an alcohol treatment program. Additionally, your insurance company may increase your rates to an unmanageable level or you may lose coverage.

First Conviction (with minor passenger): A first offense OWI conviction where a person under age 16 was present in the vehicle is a criminal offense, and the penalties are similar to those for a second offense conviction: a minimum of 5 days to 6 months in jail, $350 - $1,100 in fines plus associated court costs.

Second Conviction: A second OWI conviction results in driving privileges being revoked for 12 to 18 months, a minimum of 5 days to 6 months in jail, $350 - $1,100 in fines plus associated court costs, vehicle immobilization with an ignition interlock device (IID) for 12 to 18 months, and mandatory alcohol treatment.

Third Conviction: A third OWI conviction results in driving privileges being revoked for 2 to 3 years, 45 days to 1 year in jail, $600 - $2,000 in fines, vehicle immobilization with an ignition interlock device (IID) for 12 to 36 months, and mandatory alcohol treatment.

Fourth Conviction (five years or more since last conviction): A fourth OWI conviction results in driving privileges being revoked for 2 to 3 years, 60 days to 1 year in jail, $600 - $2,000 in fines, vehicle immobilization with an ignition interlock device (IID) for 12 to 36 months, and mandatory alcohol treatment.

OWI Causing Injury: An OWI conviction resulting in an injury is punishable by $300 - $2,000 in fines, 30 days to 1 year of imprisonment (up to 6 years for those with a prior OWI conviction).

CRIMINAL PENALTIES IN WISCONSIN
Wisconsin law provides criminal penalties, including fines, jail time, license revocation, and sometimes probation, for an OWI conviction. If convicted, the state prescribes minimum penalties for first and subsequent offenses, which vary according to the circumstances that can be proven, such as:

  • The driver's history of OWI violations and convictions;
  • If a commercial vehicle was being used at the time of the OWI;
  • Whether the OWI violation occurred while there was a child in the vehicle;
  • Whether the OWI violation occurred simultaneously with another dangerous moving violation, such as reckless driving;
  • If the OWI violation involved a car accident;
  • If another person was injured or killed; and
  • Whether the driver was under the legal drinking age at the time of the OWI violation.

DRIVING PRIVILEGE PENALTIES
In addition to criminal penalties, Wisconsin law also provides for administrative sanctions. An OWI arrest or conviction may have a very negative impact on driving privileges with the possibility of an immediate suspension by the department of motor vehicles; the same could apply to any person refusing to submit to chemical tests.

The driver's vehicle may also be confiscated or impounded, and the OWI offender will likely incur significant costs. This loss of driving privileges can occur even before an OWI conviction.

As with criminal penalties, the impact of an OWI arrest or conviction on driving privileges will vary according to the driver's history of OWI violations and the severity of the offense.

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Lawton & Cates S.C.
146 East Milwaukee Street, Suite 120
P. O. Box 399
Jefferson, Wisconsin 53549
phone:  (920) 674-4567
fax: (920) 674-4726
(visitors should use Center Avenue entrance)