What Happens if You Get a DUI in Wisconsin?
by Philip Ahn, Attorney
A DUI in Wisconsin has severe consequences. Your penalties may include fines, license suspension, and even jail time.
You can be convicted of a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) if you are operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs to a degree that prevents you from driving safely. The illegal amount of blood alcohol in Wisconsin is .08% or more.
Driving under the influence is a serious offense and comes with severe and long-term consequences. If you’ve been drinking, do not get behind the wheel. Ask someone to drive you or call a taxi. In the unfortunate case of already being charged with a DUI, get legal help right away so you are aware of your options and the long-term consequences you are facing.
What Happens If You Are Arrested for a First Offense DUI in Wisconsin?
A first-offense DUI in Wisconsin rarely carries any jail time. However, if you were driving with a minor in your car, you may face from five days to six months in jail.
First-time DUI offenders are generally required to go through a substance abuse assessment. You may then be referred to a driver safety school or a private rehabilitation program. You will need to complete safety school lessons or a rehabilitation course to get your license back.
A first-time DUI conviction will typically incur fines from $150 to $300. However, if your blood alcohol level was substantially over the legal limit, your fines will be higher.
If your blood alcohol level was between .17% to .199%, the law doubles your fine. If your blood alcohol level was in the .20% to .249% range, you will pay a triple amount in fines. If your blood alcohol level was .25% or higher, your fine will be four times the standard fine amount. Moreover, if you had a minor in your car when committing the DUI, your fine will be raised to $1,100.
Following a DUI conviction, the judge will also revoke your license for six to nine months. That license revocation period will be doubled if you had a minor in your car.
License revocation is mandatory in a DUI conviction. However, you may immediately request a hardship license. A hardship license is a temporary license that will allow you to keep up your professional and social obligations, such as going to work or driving your children to school. This way, you will get to keep your income while dealing with the consequences of your DUI. Note that a hardship license, also known as a restricted license, will only allow you to drive your vehicle for specific purposes: going to a rehabilitation program, driving to work, picking up a child, and so on.
An ignition interlock device is another possible consequence. If your blood alcohol level at the time of your DUI was .15% or higher, a judge may order you to install an interlock device for a period of at least one year. An interlock device will ensure that you take a breathalyzer test before you can start your vehicle. If your blood alcohol level is over the legal limit, your vehicle won’t start.
At the time of your arrest, they will ask you to take a breathalyzer test or provide a sample of blood or urine. If you refuse to take the test, you will face even harsher legal consequences than if your blood alcohol level was over the legal limit.
What Happens if You Are Arrested for a Second Offense DUI in Wisconsin?
A standard second offense DUI/OWI in Wisconsin can result in a minimum of five days of jail time. The maximum jail time for a second-time offense is six months. You will also need to pay from $350 to $1,100 in fines, go through an alcohol assessment, and have your license revoked for 12 to 18 months. You will also need to equip your vehicle with an ignition interlock device.
Aggravating circumstances to your offense will incur even harsher consequences. If there was a minor in your car when you committed a DUI, you will be looking at ten days to twelve months in jail and fines of up to $2,200.
Third, fourth, and all subsequent DUIs will come with even more severe legal consequences and may have a long-term effect on your professional and personal life.
Should You Hire a Lawyer To Manage a DUI in Wisconsin?
As you can see, a DUI is a serious offense in Wisconsin: heavy fines, jail time, license suspension, and more. This is why you should seek legal help immediately after you’ve been charged with a DUI.
A lawyer will guide you through the whole process, explain your sentencing options, help you deal with paperwork, and make your case in court.
Managing a DUI on your own is rarely a good idea. You will put yourself at a serious disadvantage, which may lead to serious consequences.
If this is a repeat DUI offense, or if there are aggravating circumstances to your DUI, legal help will be even more urgent.
There are other expenses to consider. You will need to pay DUI fines and manage expenses related to the suspension of your license. Your insurance provider may also raise your premiums because of a DUI. Having a criminal conviction on your record can make it difficult to find employment in the future.
Before you go further, have a free call with a DUI attorney. After a free consultation about your case, lawyers in Unbundled Legal Help’s network provide full representation for 50% less than most other attorneys.