Operating while intoxicated (OWI) is a serious criminal offense, regardless of whether you have a prior history of convictions. Consequences of an OWI conviction include fines, driver’s license revocation, and a lasting criminal record, even for first-time offenders. However, the consequences can become much more severe if you are facing OWI charges a second, third, or subsequent time. If you are arrested for OWI with a previous conviction on your record, it is crucial that you hire an attorney who can help you avoid the full extent of the penalties you may face.
Second OWI Offense Penalties Depend on the Timeframe
In Wisconsin, if your second alleged OWI offense comes more than 10 years after your first conviction, the potential penalties will likely be the same as if you had no prior conviction. Namely, you may face a fine of up to $300, a $435 OWI surcharge, and revocation of your driver’s license for up to nine months, but you are unlikely to be sentenced to any period of confinement or imprisonment. However, if the second offense comes within 10 years of the first, the possible penalties become more substantial. Fines can increase to up to $1,100, the license revocation period can increase to up to 18 months, and the sentence can include up to six months in prison.
Escalating Penalties for Third and Subsequent Offenses
Upon a third OWI conviction at any point in your life, the consequences start to escalate significantly. At this point, a sentence can include up to a year in prison, $2,000 in fines, and a revoked driver’s license for three years. Additionally, once you have three OWI convictions, your legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for operating a motor vehicle drops from the usual 0.08 to only 0.02, meaning that future OWI convictions could become even more likely. Fourth and subsequent instances of operating while intoxicated are considered felony offenses, with penalties including several years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
Repeat OWI offenders in Wisconsin can also be labeled as habitual traffic offenders (HTOs) if they have at least four convictions for OWI and other major traffic violations within five years. HTO status comes with an automatic five-year driver’s license revocation, and a habitual offender is not eligible to apply for restricted driving privileges until at least two years have passed.
Contact a Milwaukee OWI Defense Lawyer
If you have been convicted of OWI in the past, another conviction for the same offense can be devastating. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our Milwaukee County criminal defense attorneys can help you present the best possible defense to help you avoid a subsequent conviction or reduce the terms of your sentence. Contact us today at 414-271-1440 to speak with an experienced attorney.