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Bucher Law Group, LLC

New Legislation Aims to Make Repeat OWI Conviction In Wisconsin a Felony

Wisconsin is not known for having harsh Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) laws. In fact, it was one of the last states to lower the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit to 0.08 percent.

In an attempt to change the state's reputation, some legislators are pushing for more stringent OWI penalties. Currently, Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills is heading the most recent push. Her plan includes an effort to introduce a bill that would increase the severity of penalties for drivers who receive repeat OWI convictions.

Current OWI Law in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, a first offense for drunk driving is treated as a traffic offense and results in a monetary penalty of up to $300 and potential driver's license suspension. Second and third offenses are listed as criminal misdemeanors and also come with monetary penalties.

A person will not receive a felony charge in Wisconsin until the fourth offense, and only if that offense occurs within five years of the previous conviction. Wisconsin is currently one of seven states in the nation that does not attach a felony charge until the fourth offense. Penalties associated with this charge include a minimum monetary fine of $600 and a minimum prison sentence of six months.

OWIs and Refusal Hearings – New Case Law

The Supreme Court continues to deal with drunk driving and driving while impaired cases. In the matter of the refusal of Dimitrius Anagnos, the Supreme Court made a significant decision by allowing defendants in refusal hearings to challenge the legality of the traffic stop. Initially, the Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that an individual may challenge the lawfulness of a stop at a refusal hearing. The state of Wisconsin appealed, indicating that a defendant could not raise the constitutionality of a traffic stop as a defense in a refusal, because the refusal statute is very limited. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed the Court of Appeals and the trial court, and dealt the State of Wisconsin a significant blow. The Supreme Court indicated that defendants in refusal hearings may, in fact, challenge the legality of the traffic stop.

Should I Take My Company to Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing promises to rapidly change how small businesses operate.

This is good news for owners. Equipment and software costs will plummet.

With cloud computing you won't need big modems and a suite of software for each employee's computer. Instead, you'll need just one application on a laptop and access to the Internet. That app will allow employees to log onto a web-based service that hosts all the programs they need. The computers running the cloud are in remote, secure locations, and they will run everything from e-mail to complex data analysis programs.

(You may already be using cloud computing. If you have an e-mail account with Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo!, you log onto a web-based account remotely. The software and storage for your e-mail account don't exist on your computer. They are on the service provider's computer cloud.)

That's the good news about cloud computer.

The other side of the coin is that you will be asked to sign a contract with the service provider. Here's a word of advice: Before signing that agreement, have a lawyer review it.

Passing the family business to the next generation

Let's say it's time for you to retire. You've built up a successful business, and you want to pass it along to the next generation of your family. What problems do you foresee? What are some recommended solutions?

Two of your children have worked for the company, and you want them to continue. One hasn't and is not involved with the welfare of the company.

You want the business to survive, family harmony to be preserved and your children treated equally.

Experience has shown that having a company operated by employee-children and nonemployee-children is usually bad for both the children and the business. Tensions may arise over the amount paid to the nonemployee owner, the amount of salaries, benefits and perks paid to the employee-owners, the amount not distributed and kept in the bank account as retained earnings or a debate on how well the company is being managed. Even if the children trust each other and get along well, the introduction of brothers and sisters-in-law can stir up resentments and trouble.

Can you see where this is going?

Sexual assault sentence, charged under wrong crime, warranted reversal

A defendant has a constitutional right to be sentenced based on accurate information in the criminal complaint against him or her. Although a criminal complaint filed by the prosecution is not required to use the exact language of the criminal statute under which the defendant is charged, the complaint must still include the essential facts that make up the offense charged.

If a complaint is missing those essential facts or has mistakenly charged the wrong crime, a conviction may need to be reversed, as in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals case of State v. Travis.

Defendant Pleads to the Wrong Charge

The defendant was charged with attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 12, based on an alleged incident in which the defendant purportedly attempted to reach inside his niece's pants, but his hand was slapped away before he touched her genital area.

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