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First-offense penalties for operating while intoxicated

An operating while intoxicated (OWI) offense in Wisconsin could mean serious consequences in the event of a conviction. If it's a first offense, the punishments will be less severe than subsequent offenses.

Here is what you can expect if you're convicted:

  • You will be required to pay substantial court costs in addition to a $150 to $300 fine.
  • In the vast majority of cases, you do not have to fear a jail sentence. However, if you were carrying a passenger under the age of 16, you could be sentenced to as many as six months in jail. Jail or prison time could also result if you hurt someone.
  • The revocation of your driving license for six to nine months.
  • In cases where your blood alcohol content (BAC) was at least .15 percent or more, you'll need to install an ignition interlock device in your car.
  • You'll have to submit to an alcohol assessment.
  • You could receive as many as six points on your license.
  • There will be other noncriminal consequences, such as the potential loss of your job (depending on what you do for work) and a sharp increase in your auto insurance premiums.

Just because police arrested you and accused of this crime does not mean you will be found guilty. You will have the opportunity to defend yourself in court. During the course of your criminal defense proceedings, understanding the potential punishments associated with an OWI offense will help you determine the most appropriate strategies to utilize in your legal proceedings.

Source: Wisconsin Department of Transportation, "Offenses and penalties for OWI," accessed May 18, 2018

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