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How Are Wisconsin OWI Charges Affected When a Minor is in the Vehicle?

Posted on in OWI

Oconomowoc criminal defense attorney OWI with a minor passenger

The state of Wisconsin is one of the few states that still treat the first-time charge for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) as a moving violation rather than a crime. However, circumstances significantly change if a person has a minor who is under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time the OWI is committed. In the past couple of years, Wisconsin lawmakers have made changes to some of the state’s drunk driving laws, with updated penalties for minor passengers being one of them. In many cases, offenders could see their criminal penalties as much as double if they were driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle.

First and Second OWI With No Prior Offense

For a typical first or second OWI charge with no prior OWI charges in the preceding 10 years, an offender typically would face up to a $300 fine, up to a nine-month license suspension, and no jail time. However, if a minor was in the vehicle when the offense was committed, he or she could face between $350 and $1,100 in fines, a 12-18-month license suspension, and up to six months in jail.

Second OWI With A Prior Offense or Third or Greater Offense

If a driver does have a prior OWI in the past 10 years, possible penalties are increased even more. If you commit a second OWI in 10 years with a minor in the vehicle, you can expect a possible fine between $700 and $2,200, up to one year in jail, and between one to two years of license suspension.

OWI Causing Injury, Great Bodily Harm, or Homicide 

For these offenses, penalties for an OWI that cause injury, great bodily harm, or homicide while a minor is in the vehicle are doubled. This means that depending on the specific charge and the circumstances surrounding the case, a conviction would mean up to $100,000 in fines, up to 40 years in prison, and up to 10 years of a driver’s license revocation after the prison sentence.

Contact a Brookfield Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you are facing any type of OWI charge, it is crucial that you seek representation from a knowledgeable Waukesha County OWI defense lawyer. At Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP, our team of qualified individuals has the experience you need to successfully navigate an OWI case in Wisconsin. Attorney Peter Wolff served as a former Brookfield police detective and is now dedicated to putting those unique skills to work for you. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 262-232-6699; we answer our phones 24/7.




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