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4 points you should know about OWI in Wisconsin

The holiday season is here. That means lots of parties, many of which are going to have alcoholic beverages. If you plan on drinking while you are enjoying the festivities, make sure that you don't drink and drive. If you do drink and drive, there is a pretty good chance that you are going to see the flashing lights of a police car. If that happens, you probably shouldn't panic. Think about these points regarding operating while intoxicated charges in Wisconsin.

You might not be facing jail time

If this is your first OWI, you won't be facing any time in jail unless there are extenuating circumstances in your case. If you had children in your vehicle when you were stopped, you will face more serious penalties. On a first OWI if you had children under 16 in your vehicle, you are facing a minimum of five to six days in jail. If you have had prior OWI convictions, you are facing time in jail or prison. The amount of time depends on how many prior convictions you have, when they occurred, and what circumstances were present when you were stopped.

Many OWIs are misdemeanors

For people who haven't faced drunk driving charges previously, their current OWI is likely a misdemeanor. In fact, even if you have faced an OWI before, you are probably still facing a misdemeanor. Your fourth OWI would be a felony charge only if you had a previous conviction of OWI within the previous five years. Your fifth OWI, regardless of when your previous OWI convictions occurred, would be a felony charge.

You might be able to retain your driving privileges

The loss of your driver's license might be one of the biggest concerns you have now that you know you might not be facing time in jail. While it is true that your license as you know it will likely be suspended or revoked, there is a chance that you can apply for an occupational license. This restricted license would allow you to drive for a specific number of hours per day with a maximum number of hours per week. This lets you drive to school, work, church, or similar places. For some OWI offenses, there is a waiting period that must elapse before you can apply for the occupational license.

You are facing a financial hit

For a first OWI conviction, you are facing a fine of $150 to 300. Subsequent convictions have higher fines associated with them. Fines can go as high as $100,000, which is the possibility if you are convicted of homicide while OWI. This doesn't include other fees, such as the OWI surcharge of $365, that you will have to pay. For example, you might have to pay the fees for an ignition interlock device if one is ordered in your case.

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