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Lawmakers Want to Criminalize First-Time DUI Offenses

Posted on in DUI/OWI

In most states, a DUI is considered a criminal offense (typically a misdemeanor), even for a first offense. This is not the case in Wisconsin, where a first-time OWI is treated more like a traffic violation. Two Wisconsin lawmakers have proposed bills that would make DUI penalties in Wisconsin more severe. One of these bills aims to increase penalties for first-time DUI offenders in Wisconsin, something the lawmakers say is long overdue. 

Wisconsin DUI Laws

Under the proposed bill, first-time OWI charges would no longer be treated as traffic offenses. They would become criminal misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and $500 in fines. Though alcohol-related crashes have decreased in recent years, a good portion of Wisconsin DUI offenses are committed by first-time offenders. The lawmakers say this bill would help deter people from drinking and driving even further. 

According to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), Wisconsin was among the worst 15 states for DUI arrests each year from 2007-17. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation also states 448,624 drivers in the state had at least one OWI conviction as of 2015.

Are Current Wisconsin DUI Laws Lacking?

The reason why the Wisconsin lawmakers have proposed changes to the state's OWI laws is they think the current laws are not doing enough to prevent people from committing DUIs or recommitting them. Under the current law, a first-time DUI in Wisconsin is punishable by $150 to $300 in fines plus additional surcharges, a driver’s license revocation of six to eight months, and enrollment in a sobriety program. There are additional penalties if the DUI is committed with a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle or if the DUI is committed outside the jurisdiction where the offender resides.

Contact a Waukesha County DUI Defense Attorney

Regardless of lawmaker opinion, a first-time DUI charge in Wisconsin is still a serious matter. You could face expensive fines and many months without your driver’s license. No matter what kind of OWI charge you face, the Bucher Law Group, LLC will fight to keep a conviction off your record. Our skilled Waukesha, WI DUI lawyers will sit down with you to determine the best course of action. Call us at 262-303-4916 to schedule a free consultation today.





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