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Oconomowoc criminal defense attorney OWI with injury or death

One of the leading causes of death in the nation continues to be motor vehicle accidents. According to the latest data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were more than 36,500 people who died in traffic accidents in the United States in 2018. Of those individuals, more than 10,500, or 29 percent, were killed because of an alcohol-related traffic accident. In Wisconsin, operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance is illegal and can lead to serious consequences. However, if the injury or death of another person were to result from an OWI charge, you could face even more serious penalties.

Punishments for Injury or Death With OWI

Wisconsin is the last state to punish first-time OWI offenders with a criminal charge, rather than simply a moving violation. Currently, a first-time OWI in Wisconsin can land you a fine of $150 to $300 and a six- to nine-month driver’s license revocation. However, if you cause bodily harm or injury to another person while you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated, even during a first-time offense, you could face $300 to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in prison, and up to a two-year driver’s license revocation. If you have had prior OWI convictions and/or chemical test refusals, you will face stricter penalties. This can be charged as a Class H felony, which carries a possible six-year prison sentence and up to $10,000 in fines.

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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.

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Oconomowoc BUI defense attorney

After several long months of winter weather, summer has finally arrived in Wisconsin. Even though this summer might look a little different than what we are used to, it is safe to assume that most people will attempt to continue with summertime activities, such as boating. In Wisconsin, boating is a favorite pastime for many. What some may not realize, however, is that boats fall under many of the same laws that other motor vehicles do -- especially when it comes to operating them while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Therefore, it is important to understand the legal penalties for this type of criminal offense.

Dangers of Alcohol and Boating

Alcohol alters your perceptions of the world around you, which is why it is so dangerous to drive while under the influence. Boating is no exception. Alcohol is notorious for delaying reaction time and causing balance issues, both of which can already be exacerbated on a boat because of the vibrations and waves in the water. Drugs or alcohol can also impair your vision and depth perception, which is critical when navigating any type of watercraft. 

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Muskego OWI defense attorney

Since the 1980s, the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the United States has decreased dramatically, from approximately 21,000 deaths in 1982 to 10,500 deaths in 2018. Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), intoxicated driving still accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in 2018. Drunk driving laws all over the country have become more strict, with Wisconsin being no exception. In certain situations, Wisconsin requires those drivers who are charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on their vehicle. It is critical to understand what is involved with an IID if you are facing OWI charges.

What Is an IID?

An IID is a small, cell phone-sized device that is electronically wired into your vehicle’s ignition system. The device requires you to provide a breath sample before you are able to start your vehicle. A portion of the device functions like a breathalyzer and determines your blood alcohol content (BAC) from your breath sample. If your BAC is more than 0.02 percent, the device will not allow your vehicle to start. Each time you provide a breath sample, the results are stored in the device’s memory, which will eventually be reviewed by the authorities for compliance. Any attempts to remove, circumvent, or tamper with the device will immediately be reported to the sheriff’s office in your county.

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Muskego OWI defense attorney

Most states have laws that make it illegal to drive under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. In Wisconsin, these laws are referred to as operating while intoxicated (OWI). These laws tend to be broadly defined, and they apply to a number of drunk driving behaviors. In Wisconsin, you can be charged with OWI if you have a BAC of 0.08 percent or more; are intoxicated and unable to safely drive; or have any detectable amount of a controlled substance in your body. If a person is under the age of 21 when he or she is convicted of OWI, he or she can face an additional set of criminal consequences in conjunction with regular OWI penalties. That is why it is essential to seek professional legal counsel to make sure your rights are protected throughout the proceedings.

Wisconsin’s “Not a Drop” Law

As in most other states, drivers are not permitted to have a BAC of more than 0.08 percent when operating a motor vehicle. In Wisconsin, drivers who are under the age of 21 are not permitted to have any alcohol whatsoever in their systems. This means the legal limit for those under 21 is 0.00, whereas it is 0.08 for everyone else. If you are under 21 and you are caught driving with a BAC higher than zero, you face a $200 fine, four demerit points on your driver’s license, and a driver’s license suspension of three months. These penalties are concurrent and separate from any other penalties you may be facing for OWI.

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