Drunk driving charges are unquestionably serious and carry serious penalties. The beginning of the New Year brought increased penalties for drunk driving in Wisconsin. Increased penalties for repeat drunk driving went into effect in Wisconsin with the New Year. Wisconsin is the only state, however, that treats a first drunk driving offense as a civil violation which the new law did not change. Under the new law, a fourth drunk driving offense will be considered a felony offense and can be punished by up to 6 years in prison.
In addition, the new law increases the maximum sentence for a fifth and sixth drunk driving offense from 3 years to 5 years; increases the maximum sentence for a seventh, eighth or ninth drunk driving offense from 5 years to 7 years and 6 months; and increases the maximum sentence for a tenth or additional drunk driving offense from 7 years and 6 months in prison to a decade behind bars.
Some advocates for harsher drunk driving laws in Wisconsin want to see further penalties associated with ignition interlock devices. Drunk driving accusations and charges can have a meaningful and negative impact on the life of the party facing them. There are a variety of potentially harsh penalties and negative consequences associated with drunk driving charges. As is always true of drunk driving charges or other criminal charges, the accused individual has the right to a criminal defense.
A strong criminal defense strategy may focus on challenging the evidence being used against the accused individual, questioning whether or not the proper procedures were followed by authorities for the protection of the accused individual's rights or aimed at reducing or eliminating the charges. Whatever the circumstances may be, it is important to understand the criminal defense options, protections and rights that are available to individuals who have been accused of a crime.
Source: Minnesota.cbslocal.com, "Wisconsin Increasing Some Drunk Driving Penalties On Jan. 1," Dec. 27, 2016