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Bucher Law Group, LLC
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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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Milwaukee county multiple OWI defense attorney

Getting into trouble with the law for any reason can be a particularly scary and anxiety-inducing experience. When you are accused of operating a vehicle while under the influence (OWI) of drugs or alcohol, this can be especially scary, because there are so many uncertainties that come with those charges. In Wisconsin, not only do you face expensive fines and surcharges for a first-time OWI offense, but your driver’s license can be suspended. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could face serious criminal charges with harsh consequences. Below are a few of the most commonly asked questions about Wisconsin OWI charges:

Will I Lose My Driver’s License?

If you are arrested because an officer suspected that you were driving while intoxicated, you will be asked to submit to a chemical test so the officer can determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). If your BAC result shows that you are legally intoxicated, the officer will give you a Notice of Intent to Suspend, which is informing you that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will suspend your driver’s license after 30 days. You can contest this suspension within 10 days of your arrest; otherwise, your license will automatically be suspended for at least six months.

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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.

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