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Bucher Law Group, LLC

Can I Face OWI Charges if My BAC Is Below the Legal Limit in Wisconsin?

Posted on in Drunk Driving

Milwaukee County OWI defense attorney

It is generally known that if an individual has a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, he or she is legally intoxicated. Throughout the United States, a .08 BAC is designated as the legal threshold for drunk driving, although each state may enforce its own laws to prohibit driving under the influence. In Wisconsin, a motorist may be arrested for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) regardless of his or her BAC. If you or a loved one has been arrested for an OWI charge, it is important to immediately seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney regardless of your circumstances.   

Determining if a Driver Is Impaired 

Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in Wisconsin for drivers of any age. To be considered “under the influence,” a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle must be impaired. In order to reach this conclusion, a police officer may ask you to participate in field sobriety tests if he or she suspects you are intoxicated. Although these tests may be politely declined, not participating may give an officer probable cause to arrest you. This means that if an officer stops you, and he or she believes that you are impaired by alcohol or drugs, you can be arrested and prosecuted for OWI, even without your BAC even being tested.

OWI Punishments in Wisconsin

The penalties given to a driver convicted of OWI can significantly change if he or she has any prior OWI offenses. As of December 1, 2018, a convicted OWI driver may face a variety of different consequences:

  • First Offense: $150 to $300 fine plus a $435 OWI surcharge; six- to nine-month driver's license revocation. If the driver’s alcohol content was 0.15 or more, an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) or 24/7 sobriety program will be required for one year.

  • Second Offense: If no prior OWI convictions in the previous 10 years: $150 to $300 fine plus a $435 OWI surcharge; six- to nine-month driver's license revocation. If the driver’s alcohol content was 0.15 or more, an IID or 24/7 sobriety program will be required for one year.

  • Second Offense: With a prior OWI conviction in the previous 10 years: $350 to $1,100 fine plus a $435 OWI surcharge; five days to six months imprisonment; 12- to 18-month driver's license revocation. An IID or 24/7 sobriety program may be required from one year up to 18 months.

  • Third Offense: $600 to $2,000 fine plus a $435 OWI surcharge; 45 days to 12- month confinement; two- to three-year driver's license revocation. An IID or 24/7 sobriety program will be required for one to three years.

If a driver is found guilty of more than three OWI convictions, he or she will be charged with a felony. In addition to harsher fines and driving limitations, the alledged offender will face additional time behind bars. 

Contact a Milwaukee County Criminal Defense Attorney

Mistakes are a fact of life, as everyone makes them from time to time. If an officer concluded that you were operating a vehicle under the influence in Wisconsin, it is important to immediately contact a highly qualified Bucher Law Group attorney. Depending on the jurisdiction, a refusal to submit to testing could lead to additional charges being filed. Our accomplished Waukesha County OWI defense lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience, and we will help you throughout this difficult process. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office at 262-303-4916. 

 

Sources:

https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/safety/education/drunk-drv/ddlaw.aspx

https://wisconsindot.gov/Documents/safety/education/drunk-drv/owi-penchrt.pdf

 

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