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When is drunk driving a felony in Wisconsin?

Drunk driving awareness is climbing all across the nation, and Wisconsin is no exception. In response to what lawmakers believe to be a growing threat to public safety, the laws pertaining to drunk driving have become more and more severe. This means that in certain cases, drunk driving can be charged as a felony or a federal crime and in turn, the punishment associated with such charges is also more severe.

In many cases, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is not a felony, but there are times when the authorities deem greater charges are necessary as outlined below.

-- The fifth and sixth time a single individual is caught driving while intoxicated, he or she will likely be charged with a Class H felony.

-- The seventh, eighth and ninth time a single individual is caught driving while intoxicated, he or she will likely be charged with a Class G Felony.

-- The tenth or more time a single individual is caught driving while intoxicated, he or she will likely be charged with a Class F Felony.

-- Further, if a single individual is caught operating a vehicle while intoxicated a fourth time within a five-year period, It will mean a Class H felony charge.

The possible penalties for felony OWI include 60 days to 12 and a half years in jail, depending upon the circumstances; fines between $600 to $20,000; loss of driving privileges from two to three years; and mandatory use of an ignition interlock device for one to three years.

Obviously, it is better to refrain from driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, but in the event you or someone you know is facing Felony OWI charges, it is crucial to seek legal representation. With help from an attorney, it is possible to have the charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

Source: Mothers Against Drunk Driving, "DUI Felony Laws" accessed Feb. 03, 2015

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