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Are OWI Charges in Wisconsin More Serious if Someone Was Injured or Killed?

 Posted on February 28, 2024 in DUI/OWI

Blog ImageBecause of the dangers of drunk driving, law enforcement officials are likely to pursue criminal charges against anyone who is accused of operating a vehicle after drinking alcohol or using drugs. Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) is a serious offense in Wisconsin, and the charges become significantly more severe if a drunk driving incident results in injury or death. The legal system imposes strict penalties on those who are found guilty of causing harm to others while under the influence. An experienced attorney can provide representation for people who have been charged with these offenses, helping them determine the best steps to take to defend against a conviction.

OWI Charges Involving Injury

In Wisconsin, if you are convicted of OWI in a case in which someone was injured, the consequences you may face are likely to be considerably more severe than a standard OWI charge. The specifics of the charges depend on various factors, including the severity of the person’s injuries, your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the accident, and whether you have any previous OWI convictions. Penalties may include:

  • First-time OWI with injury: This offense is classified as a misdemeanor. The penalties may include a fine ranging from $300 to $2,000, a driver’s license revocation for up to two years, and imprisonment for a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in the county jail.

  • Subsequent OWI with injury: If the offender has one or more prior OWI convictions, the charge escalates to a Class H felony. This can result in fines of up to $10,000, a driver’s license revocation for up to two years, and potential imprisonment for up to six years.

OWI Charges Resulting in Great Bodily Harm

If an intoxicated driving incident results in "great bodily harm" to another person, the driver will face a Class F felony charge for injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Great bodily harm is defined as an injury in which there is a substantial risk of death or a person experiences disfigurement, impairment, or loss of function of a limb, organ, or other part of the body. The penalties for this offense include:

  • A fine of up to $25,000.

  • Up to 12.5 years in prison.

  • A driver’s license revocation for at least two years, in addition to the period of incarceration.

OWI Charges Resulting in Death

When an OWI incident results in the death of another person, the charges are likely to be severe. Known as homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, the offense is a Class D felony for a first-time offender and a Class C felony for a person who has one or more previous OWI convictions. A conviction can result in the following penalties:

  • A fine of up to $100,000.

  • Up to 25 years in prison for a Class D felony and up to 40 years in prison for a Class C felony.

  • A driver’s license revocation for at least five years, in addition to the period of incarceration.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Facing OWI charges, especially those involving injury or death, can be a daunting experience. The complexities of the legal process, coupled with the potential for severe penalties, make it essential to have experienced legal representation. A skilled attorney can help in the following ways:

  • Advising you on the charges against you, ensuring that you understand the specific accusations, the penalties that may apply if you are convicted, and the procedures that will be followed during your case.

  • Developing a defense strategy that may include challenging the evidence or negotiating a plea deal.

  • Advocating on your behalf in court, seeking to minimize the consequences of the charges.

Contact a Waukesha County OWI Defense Lawyer

In a drunk driving case involving injury or death in Wisconsin, representation by a knowledgeable, experienced criminal defense lawyer is crucial. At Bucher Law Group, LLC, we understand the gravity of these charges, and we are committed to providing a strong defense for our clients. To discuss your case and explore your legal options, contact our Dodge County OWI defense attorney at 262-303-4916 and schedule a free consultation.

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