For many, summer is a time for joy, relaxation, and celebration. Planning vacations, spending time with friends and family, or simply enjoying the weather are activities on nearly everyone's to do list.
Another prevalent summer activity, however, is the consumption of alcohol.
Drinking itself can hardly be considered wrong or amoral. For many, it's an activity that breeds good times and friendly memories. But when drinking is done in excess, or taken outside of a safe area, it quickly leads to horrible consequences. In 2015 alone, the Wisconsin DOT logged more than 24,000 drunk driving convictions, and alcohol-related crashes either killed or injured more than 3,000 people.
So before I give any guidance on Wisconsin OWI Law, I first present a dire plea:
Please, under absolutely no circumstances, please do not drink and drive.
Unfortunately, as I noted above, this advice gets ignored by thousands of Wisconsinites every single year. When that happens, the courts get involved. And so many people contact our office and ask the critical question: what happens next?
The answers can all be found on the DOT website, in convenient PDF form no less (see here for more info: http://wisconsindot.gov/Documents/safety/education/drunk-drv/owi-penchrt.pdf). But to summarize more briefly, here are the legal consequences for OWI violations in Wisconsin.
Fine of $150-$300, plus the approximately $450 OWI surcharge. License revocation of 6 - 9 months.
If you haven't had an OWI in over 10 years, the consequences are the same as an OWI 1st. Otherwise, the fines are elevated to $350-$1,000 with a license revocation of 12-18 months or more. In addition, the state imposes a MINIMUM JAIL TIME of 5 days, and as many as 6 months.
Fine of $600-$2,000. License revocation of 2-3 years or more. Minimum imprisonment of 45 days.
For the 4th OWI and beyond, the consequences only become more severe. What's more, the consequences already listed fail to take into account whether there was a particularly high BAC, or whether there was someone under 16 in the car, or whether someone was injured or killed.
This list also fails to take into account the non-legal repercussions of driving drunk.
For instance, what happens if you injure yourself drunk driving? What happens if you injure someone else? Or worse, if somebody is killed? How will that affect you, your family, and the family of the victims?
These are questions we hope never to answer. And, hopefully, if you are in legal trouble, you're lucky enough to have not done damage to your vehicle, or injured or killed anyone. Either way, however, if you have any legal questions regarding Wisconsin OWI Law, don't hesitate to call Parks Law Offices at 920.933.6300, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And please, for all of us and for yourself, drive sober.
Danny Garcia is an associate at Parks Law Offices, LLC. His practice emphasizes criminal, landlord/tenant, and employment law, and litigation.