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Jail time is mandatory for a drunk driving offense. The greater the number of OWI offenses, the longer the jail time. So, it was imperative that Attorney Tracey Wood successfully challenge her client's prior OWI convictions when he was charged with a 3rd offense, and she did. His prior convictions were not counted; he was charged with a first offense drunk driving.
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Drunk Driving - What To Expect in Wisconsin

Will I go to jail?

Jail is a mandatory penalty for all drunk driving convictions except the first one. There is no jail penalty in a first offense case. For all other drunk driving convictions, there is a minimum amount of jail time which must be served. The amount of the jail time which you are facing will depend on how many times you've had a conviction for drunk driving in the past, your alcohol concentration, and whether you refused a blood or breath test. The more past convictions, the higher the jail time: a minimum of five days for a second offense, 30 days for a third offense, 60 days for a fourth offense. Fifth and subsequent offenses are felonies and you can be sent to prison, if convicted. Additionally, if there was a child under age 16 in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the minimum and maximum penalties double.

How much jail time am I facing for an OWI?

Probably more than the minimum. All counties use a sentencing guideline system that equates the length of the jail sentence to the alcohol concentration revealed by testing, or to the fact of a refusal to submit to testing. Generally, these guidelines require longer sentences for higher alcohol concentrations and for refusing. There is a considerable variation in the severity of these sentencing guidelines among counties, though the scheme in Milwaukee County is generally regarded as the most harsh. Other factors that may be considered include whether there was an accident or other bad driving and, in some counties, whether there has been affirmative involvement in alcohol dependency treatment.

Are there other penalties for drunk driving offenses?

You can lose your driver's license. You can lose your car. You can be ordered to alcohol treatment. You can be fined a lot of money.

For a first offense drunk driving conviction, you'll lose your license for 6 to 9 months and pay a money penalty of at least $650.00,

In second offense cases, the fines are larger, often over $1,000.00. Third offense cases carry even larger fines, and the State can decide that it wants to keep your car. By the fourth offense, under present law, the State is required to seize your car. A fifth offense is a felony, so there is a serious risk of going to prison, for up to two years.

Anyone convicted of drunk driving or a test refusal is always required to submit to an alcohol assessment, and to comply with whatever "Driver Safety Plan," i.e., Group Dynamics or alcohol treatment, in or out-patient, is recommended by the assessing agency. These services must be paid by the convicted driver.

In addition, depending on the number of prior offenses, the driver may be required to have an ignition interlock installed on his or her vehicle, or may be required to immobilize the vehicle by having it booted. In third and subsequent offense cases, a judge may order a vehicle owned by the driver and used to commit the drunk driving offense seized by the Sheriff, and ultimately forfeited to the State. (That, however, requires a separate lawsuit.)

The statutes allow judges to impose various forms of community service in drunk driving cases, but this authority is seldom exercised.

Drunk Driving Expert Advice

If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense, or if you have already been convicted of a drunk driving offense, please call ( or locally Madison Wis ) right away. In addition to the above penalties, certain other drunk driving laws may cause you to loose your license. The drunk driving defense attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood may be able to help you avoid some of the harsh penalties such as loosing your license if options are available under Wisconsin laws, but you must act quickly. Van Wagner & Wood's attorneys offer a free drunk driving case review to help you understand Wisconsin drunk driving laws and how those laws may affect you. Please contact them as soon as possible. [Free OWI Case Assessment]