Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)

Wisconsin uses the term OWI (operating while intoxicated) instead of the more common DWI (driving while intoxicated.) This is only a difference in terminology; legal definitions and penalties are generally the same across the United States.

The penalties for an OWI offense are based on many different factors. Let’s examine a few.

Age: Wisconsin has a “not one drop” law for underage drivers. This means that if a driver under the age of 21 has a blood alcohol content of anything above 0.0%, he or she can be charged with driving while intoxicated. If convicted, he or she can be fined up to $200 and lose his or her license for up to three months, although an occupational license can be filed for immediately. (An occupational license allows you to drive to work, school and other necessary locations while your license is suspended.)

Employment: If a person with a commercial license (delivery drivers, truckers, etc) in convicted of OWI, they face harsher penalties than the average driver. For example, commercial drivers can be charged with OWI for a BAC of merely 0.4%, for having alcohol in their possession while driving for work, or for driving within four hours of consuming alcohol. After a second offense, they can lose their commercial license permanently.

Prior convictions: The penalty for drunk driving is always harsher if you have received another OWI-related conviction. For example, if you are convicted of homicide due to OWI, and you have a prior conviction, your sentence can be raised from 25 years to 40 years in jail.

Clearly the penalties for OWI offenses can be severe, even when there was no accident or injury suffered. If you have been charged with drunk driving, contact Milwaukee OWI defense attorneys from Hart Powell, S.C. at (414) 271-9595.

Written by Michael Hart & Craig Powell

Last Updated : January 13, 2016