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Bucher Law Group, LLC
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Jefferson County criminal defense attorney OWI

Drunk driving is taken seriously in the United States, with harsh penalties for a conviction. A conviction for operating while intoxicated (OWI) can result in serious consequences with long-term implications, especially if you already have a prior conviction. In Wisconsin, second-time offenders can face up to six months in jail, over $1,000 in fines, and a revoked driver’s license for up to 18 months, and the penalties only grow for additional offenses. However, even if you are convicted for a repeat offense, you may be able to reduce your sentence through Wisconsin’s Safe Streets option.

What Is Wisconsin’s Safe Streets Option?

The Safe Streets option is available in several Wisconsin counties, including Waukesha, Milwaukee, Jefferson, Walworth, Dodge, and Racine. Its purpose is to help non-violent offenders with alcohol and drug issues achieve sobriety by offering reduced jail sentences for those who successfully complete an alcohol or drug treatment program as part of their probation. The Safe Streets option can only be used once in a person’s lifetime, but it can make a significant difference if you are facing conviction for one of the following offenses:

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Walworth County criminal defense attorney OWI

Drunk driving is a threat to everyone on Wisconsin’s roads, resulting in over 5,000 car accidents each year and over 30 percent of the state’s annual car accident fatalities. For this reason, Wisconsin treats operating while intoxicated (OWI) as a serious criminal offense, with possible penalties including 10 years or more in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. However, first-time offenders in Wisconsin usually do not face criminal charges, and are therefore unlikely to see the full extent of these penalties. With the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, you can work to ensure a fair outcome for your case, allowing you to reform your behavior without an excessive negative impact on your life.

How Does Wisconsin Define Operating While Intoxicated?

A person over the age of 21 can be arrested for OWI if he or she is found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent, as determined by a blood or breath test at the time of the traffic stop. However, even if your BAC is below 0.08, an officer may arrest you if he or she has reason to believe that alcohol or any other drug is impairing your ability to drive safely.

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Ozaukee County criminal defense attorney OWI

Wisconsin has long been criticized for being the last state in the country to not criminalize a person’s first offense for operating a vehicle while they are intoxicated (OWI). While efforts are continuously being made to strengthen penalties for first-time OWI convictions, existing punishments for multiple OWI convictions can be strict, especially if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is relatively high when you are pulled over. Being convicted of an OWI not only means that you could face immense fines and other penalties but depending on your circumstances, this could also mean you now have a criminal record that could affect you for the rest of your life. If you have been charged with an OWI, you should speak with a Wisconsin OWI criminal defense attorney right away to protect your rights and driving privileges. 

Prohibited BAC Levels

In the state of Wisconsin, there is more than one way the law classifies whether a person is “intoxicated” when driving. You are considered to be operating while intoxicated if you:

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Racine County drunk driving accident injury attorney

There are very few crimes in the United States that could be accurately described as victimless. Most of the time, crimes that are committed will affect someone in some way, shape, or form. When it comes to a crime such as driving while under the influence of alcohol, also known in Wisconsin as OWI, there often are personal injury victims. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were more than 10,500 alcohol-related traffic deaths across the country in 2018 and many more alcohol-related injury- or damage-only crashes. Accidents involving drunk drivers are often traumatic for the victim, which is why the victim has the right to pursue compensation from the offender.

Pursuing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

When you get into a car accident with another person, you have a right to pursue compensation for damages that you may have sustained. This is true in Wisconsin, especially if you were in a collision with an intoxicated driver. Wisconsin operates on a system of comparative negligence when it comes to motor vehicle crashes. This means all parties involved have the potential to be partially at fault for the accident. As long as you were not found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, you can pursue damages.

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Milwaukee County OWI defense attorney

The state of Wisconsin remains the only state in the nation that does not criminalize first-time DUI offenses. Instead of it being a criminal charge, it is treated more like a traffic ticket. Drivers pay a fine, and while they do experience a six- to nine-month license suspension, they are also eligible for an occupational license immediately. Even so, law enforcement officials take operating while intoxicated (OWI) offenses rather seriously. That is why it is important to understand Wisconsin's Implied Consent law and how it affects sobriety tests in OWI traffic stops. 

Administering a Chemical Test

When a police officer pulls you over under the suspicion that you may be operating your vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), he or she will likely ask you what you have been doing and if you have been drinking. If anything about your conversation makes the officer think that you may be impaired, he or she may ask you to step out of the vehicle to conduct field sobriety tests, or you may be asked to take a portable breathalyzer test that will give an estimate of your blood-alcohol content (BAC). If the results of these tests or any other observations cause the officer to believe that you are intoxicated, you may be arrested. Upon your arrest, you will be taken back to the police station, where you will be asked to submit to an official chemical test to determine your blood-alcohol content (BAC). This is where you have a choice. You have the right to refuse the test, but you will face consequences if you do break the implied consent laws.

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