A primer on drunk driving in Wisconsin

While most first OWI offenses in Wisconsin are civil traffic offenses, others result in criminal charges and harsh penalties.

Throughout the United States, the laws governing drunk driving are harsh. Every state has its own set of laws and penalties for these offenses and people in Milwaukee should be educated about Wisconsin's laws. Mothers Against Drunk Driving points out that people face felony drunk driving charges if arrested for a fourth or subsequent offense.

Wisconsin's penalties and laws

According to the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles, drivers are considered intoxicated if they have blood alcohol content levels of at least 0.08 percent. However, a BAC of 0.02 percent or greater is illegal for any person with at least three previous OWI convictions on record.

The penalties associated with an OWI conviction can vary depending on many factors. The driver's blood alcohol content at the time of arrest and any prior convictions are just two things that can determine the consequences. Penalties may include a jail sentence, the payment of fines, loss of driving privileges and more.

According to Wisconsin State Statutes, a first offense is generally treated as a civil traffic violation instead of as a criminal misdemeanor, unless the person is carrying a passenger under 16 years old, or if there is an accident that results in an injury or death.

A law enacted in Wisconsin in 2010 gives drivers the chance for reduced jail sentences in exchange for participation in a special program. The program involves substance treatment and monitoring. Longer probationary periods were also part of the new law.

Ignition interlock devices in Wisconsin

Ignition interlock devices are commonly used in many states as a means of preventing repeat drunk driving offenses. The Wisconsin DMV website outlines the required use of IIDs for the state. Following are the persons that can be ordered to install and use these devices:

  • A person arrested for a first offense if the BAC is 0.15 percent or greater.
  • Any person arrested for a second or subsequent OWI offense.
  • Any person who refuses testing requested by an officer.

If a driver is ordered to use an IID, every vehicle registered in that person's name must be equipped with a device. Ignition interlock devices are to be used for at least 12 months. The duration can be longer than 12 months in all.

Drivers deserve good defenses

Every driver arrested on suspicion of drunk driving is guaranteed by law a defense. Contacting an attorney promptly is recommended.

Keywords: drunk driving, Wisconsin, OWI conviction, Ignition interlock devices