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Bucher Law Group, LLC

Milwaukee County criminal defense attorney OWI

Being accused of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (known as operating while intoxicated, or OWI) can have significant consequences. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in the state of Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were nearly 30,000 OWI arrests in the state in 2015, with nearly 24,000 people receiving a conviction. Unlike most other states, Wisconsin’s penalties for a first-time OWI offense are somewhat lenient, but that does not mean the charge is not serious. What you do after your OWI arrest can affect the outcome of your case and many aspects of your life. Below are a few things you should avoid doing after you have been arrested for OWI in Wisconsin.

Ignoring Your OWI Charge

Believe it or not, some people think that ignoring an OWI charge will make it go away. While this is not true at all, it can also affect the outcome of your case. If you do not take any action in your OWI case, such as failing to show up to your court date, you could face additional charges and fines, in addition to the penalties for your OWI charge. 

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Waukesha County OWI defense attorney

Even though Wisconsin tends to be one of the most lenient states when it comes to operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, there are still serious consequences that you can face if you are convicted of these criminal charges. By far, one of the most aggravating consequences of a Wisconsin OWI charge is the fact that you can have your driver’s license suspended or revoked. If this happens, you will be unable to drive for a specified period of time -- unless you have what is called an occupational driver’s license. This type of license allows a person to continue to drive during a suspension or revocation period for certain reasons. Although it is not an ideal situation overall, an occupational license can help immensely.

Eligibility for an Occupational License

If your driver’s license has been suspended because of OWI-related charges, you may be able to have a temporary occupational license issued. In general, most people will qualify for an occupational license if their license has been suspended because of an OWI arrest. However, under the following circumstances, you may not be eligible to receive an occupational license:

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Waukesha County OWI homicide defense attorney

When it comes to drunk driving laws, Wisconsin is relatively lenient compared to other states. In fact, Wisconsin is the only state in the country in which a first-time DUI offense is merely a ticket, rather than a criminal charge. Even when a person reaches his or her second, third, or even fourth conviction of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), the sentence typically does not involve jail time. Rather, probation is usually given to those offenders, even if their driving privileges were revoked. Jail time can be expected, however, if there are certain aggravating factors present in the situation to warrant a need for incarceration. Aggravating factors in a Wisconsin OWI case can include causing bodily harm or injury to another person, committing OWI with a child in the vehicle, or one of the most serious charges: homicide while committing OWI.

Charges for Homicide While Driving Under the Influence

In all 50 states, operating a vehicle while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. Adding an aggravating factor to OWI, such as killing another person, makes the charges even more serious. In Wisconsin, a person commits the offense of homicide by intoxicated use of vehicle when he or she causes the death of another person due to the handling of the vehicle while he or she was under the influence of alcohol or any type of drug, had a BAC of 0.08 or more, or if he or she had a BAC of 0.04 or more and was driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). 

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Jefferson County drunk driving defense attorney

Thanksgiving is upon us, with Christmas following soon after. Holiday get-togethers are a time for family and friends to gather and spend time with one another. It is not uncommon for adults to drink alcohol during these festive gatherings, but drinking too much and getting behind the wheel can result in criminal charges for those who choose to do so. Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas are notorious for having staggering statistics on DUI-related traffic accidents, many of which turn out to be deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 800 people died in alcohol-related car crashes during Thanksgiving holidays between 2013 and 2017. If you plan on drinking this holiday season, here are a few things you can do to prevent a serious and costly Wisconsin OWI charge:

  1. Be smart about how you drink. If you plan on driving home after a holiday party, and you also plan on having a drink or two while you are there, you need to be responsible about your drinking habits. Always make sure you eat a decent meal before you start drinking. Drinking on an empty stomach not only enhances the effects of alcohol, but it also makes your body absorb the alcohol faster, meaning your BAC will be higher in less time than usual. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water and stop drinking at least one hour before you plan to leave.

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Milwaukee County OWI defense attorneyWhen it comes to driving under the influence (DUI) laws in Wisconsin, things can get rather confusing. Wisconsin refers to the offense as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). The state has some of the most lenient OWI laws in the country, especially for a first-time OWI offense. If you are convicted of OWI in Wisconsin, and you have no prior OWI convictions or arrests, you do not actually face a criminal charge; rather, you face a civil penalty or the equivalent of a traffic ticket. That can all change, however, if your first-time OWI charge involves the great bodily harm or death of another person.

OWI With Great Bodily Harm

Even if you have never before been convicted or arrested for drunk driving in Wisconsin, an OWI charge alleging that you caused great bodily harm to another person is a very serious charge with stiff penalties. You can face OWI charges with great bodily harm if your BAC was over 0.08, if you had a detectable amount of an illicit drug in your system, or even if an officer found you to be under the influence and impaired.

Causing great bodily harm to another person while driving under the influence is classified as a Class F felony in Wisconsin. This means you may face fines of up to $25,000. You can also face up to 12.5 years in prison, a two-year driver’s license revocation, and a requirement for an ignition interlock device (IID). 

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