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Milwaukee County drunk driving defense attorney

Compared to other states in the country, Wisconsin’s drunk driving or operating while intoxicated (OWI) laws are somewhat lenient. In Wisconsin, a first-time OWI offense is not subject to jail time; instead, it can result in a driver’s license suspension and a fine. Technically, a first-time OWI conviction is not a criminal offense; rather, it is a moving violation that carries a fine. Nevertheless, being charged with driving while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious situation that can carry stiff penalties, especially if someone commits multiple offenses. Although Wisconsin OWI laws are less strict than many other states’ laws, you can still be charged with a felony OWI, depending on the circumstances.

Felony OWI Charges

In Wisconsin, an OWI charge does not become a felony until you commit your fourth offense. Prior to a fourth-offense OWI charge, you may still face jail time, including up to one year for a third OWI offense. Here are the ways you can be charged with a felony OWI in Wisconsin:

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Milwaukee County drunk driving defense attorney

In recent years, the number of teenagers and underage young adults who drink and drive has decreased. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the total number of high school students who drink and drive has fallen by more than half since 1991. Though this number has gone down, in 2017, more than 16% of high school students reported that they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. Underage drinking and driving is a serious issue, because teens are already three times more likely to get into a fatal accident than adults--and alcohol only exacerbates that statistic. In many states, underage drinking and driving penalties have become more strict, including in the state of Wisconsin, where it is referred to as operating while intoxicated (OWI).

Absolute Sobriety Law

Most states have a law stating that those who are under the age of 21 are not permitted to drive if they have alcohol in their systems. In Wisconsin, drivers who are under 21 years old are not permitted to have a BAC of more than 0.00 if they are operating a motor vehicle. This is called Wisconsin’s Absolute Sobriety or “Not a Drop” law. A violation of this law will result in a $200 fine, four demerit points on an individual’s driver’s license, and a three-month driver’s license suspension.

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Milwaukee County OWI defense lawyer

Getting pulled over by a police officer for any reason is an intimidating experience. When you are stopped because an officer suspects you may be driving while you are intoxicated, it can be even more nerve-wracking. Experiments have shown that most people will obey commands from law enforcement just because the police officer is wearing a uniform, but not every command from a police officer must be followed. In certain situations, you have the right to refuse commands, which can sometimes benefit the outcome of your case. It is important to understand your rights if you are pulled over on suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) in Wisconsin. 

Right to Remain Silent

The United States Constitution states that all American citizens have the right against self-incrimination. This means you have the right to remain silent and not answer police questions when you are stopped for a traffic violation. One of the most common questions that officers ask when they stop someone is, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” If you answer yes to that question, you are basically admitting your guilt. The best thing to do is to reply to that question with, “No, officer, I do not know.”

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Milwaukee County DUI defense attorney

In recent years, police officers and lawmakers around the country have paid more attention to those who choose to operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (OWI). Because of this, the number of deaths related to people who were driving under the influence (DUI) has decreased, but it still remains a problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were nearly 11,000 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol impairment in 2017. Penalties for drunk driving vary by state but are serious no matter where you are. The penalties become even more strict if a child is in your automobile when you are caught driving under the influence.

Wisconsin OWI Penalties

If you are stopped on suspicion of operating a vehicle while under the influence in Wisconsin, you can be charged with OWI, whether or not your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or more. For example, if you fail a field sobriety test (FST), and the officer determines you are intoxicated beyond a safe point to drive, you may be arrested and charged with drunk driving. As a first-time OWI offender, you can face a fine of $150 to $300 in addition to a $435 OWI surcharge, and your driver's license will be revoked for six to nine months. If your BAC is .15 or higher, you may be required to use an ignition interlock device or participate in a 24/7 sobriety program for one year.

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Milwaukee County reckless driving defense lawyer

Holding a driver’s license is a privilege that many people take for granted. When you receive a driver’s license, you agree to multiple things, perhaps the most important being that you will operate your vehicle in a safe and responsible manner. Risky driving and/or breaking Wisconsin traffic laws can lead to serious reckless driving charges. As is the case for many states, the definition of reckless driving can encompass a variety of actions and behaviors on the road. 

Reckless Driving Definition

When it comes to reckless driving, the Wisconsin laws can be somewhat open to interpretation due to the many actions that could lead to this charge. At its base, reckless driving in Wisconsin constitutes any behavior that endangers the safety of any other people or property through the negligent use of a vehicle. Further, the law states that “no person may cause bodily harm to another by the negligent operation of a vehicle,” meaning that reckless driving charges may apply whether or not a driver's negligence led to actual harm.

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