Operating While Intoxicated
If you have been arrested and charged with an operating while intoxicated (OWI), do not plead guilty and do not give up without talking with an experienced OWI defense attorney such as Jessie Weber.
Just because law enforcement alleges that you failed a field sobriety test or that you blew .08 or above does not mean you are automatically guilty of OWI.
In some cases Jessie has been able to get charges completely dropped because law enforcement did not follow the law during the investigation. For example, the officer must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over.
The officer must have reasonable suspicion to ask you to submit to field sobriety tests and ultimately probable cause to arrest you for OWI. Every action the officer does must be justified in court and Jessie Weber knows what to look for when challenging an officer’s OWI investigation.
A judge can dismiss a legally flawed case if Jessie files and argues the proper motions.
If you hire Jessie to represent you, her first goal will be to get the charges dropped or reduced. If this is not possible, she will try to help you avoid some of the harsh penalties associated with OWI convictions.
Being Charged With OWI
A drunk driving case involving alcohol usually consists of two different charges, operating under the influence of an intoxicant (OWI) and operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC).
In order to be charged with operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration, the prosecution must prove the following:
- The defendant operated or drove a motor vehicle on a public highway of this state
- While operating the vehicle, the defendant was under the influence of an intoxicant.
- At the time of operating or driving, the defendant had a prohibited alcohol level.
A person’s PAC (legal limit) depends on how many prior convictions they have. The legal limit in Wisconsin is .08 until a person has been convicted of a third offense.
At that point, the legal limit is .02. If you are subject to an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) order then your legal blood alcohol content is .02, regardless of the number of convictions you have.
If you are convicted of an OWI 1st offense with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .149 or lower you will not be ordered to equip your vehicle with an IID. If your BAC is .15 or higher your will be ordered to equip every vehicle titled in your name with an IID.
The law requires that a person convicted of a second offense and higher be subject to an IID order. The length of the IID order varies depending on the level of offense and the county of conviction.
For example, a second offense has a potential IID order between 12-18 months plus the length of confinement, but each county has its own guidelines for the length of the IID order depending on what level offense and the person’s BAC.
Complying with the IID order can be complicated and confusing. Jessie Weber can help you through this entire process.
Click here for more information on IIDs.
Consequences Of An OWI
First offense OWIs in Wisconsin are considered traffic citations and are not criminal offenses unless there were minor passengers in the vehicle or someone was injured. First offense convictions require a fine of no less than $150 and no more than $300 and a license revocation of no less than 6 months and no more than 9 months.
Second and Third offense OWIs without injuries are considered unclassified misdemeanors and require a mandatory jail sentence.
Second offense convictions carry a maximum penalty of 6 months jail, $1,100 fine and 18 months revocation of your driver’s license. The mandatory minimum penalty is 5 days jail, $350 fine and 12 months revocation of your driver’s license.
Third offense convictions carry a maximum penalty of 1-year jail, $2,000 fine and a 3-year revocation of your driver’s license. The mandatory minimum penalty is 45 days jail, $600 fine and 2-year revocation of your driver’s license.
Fourth, Fifth and Sixth offense OWIs are felony level offenses and could result in a prison sentence.
Fourth offense convictions carry a maximum penalty of 6 years imprisonment, $10,000 fine and a lifetime revocation of your driver’s license. The mandatory minimum penalty is 60 days jail, $600 fine and a lifetime revocation of your driver’s license.
Fifth and Sixth offense convictions carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, $25,000 fine and a lifetime revocation of your driver’s license. The court must sentence a person to a bifurcated sentence in the Wisconsin State Prison System with a mandatory minimum of 1 year 6 months initial confinement, $600 fine and a lifetime revocation of your driver’s license.
Seventh, Eighth and Ninth offense OWIs are felony level offenses and a prison sentence of no less than three years is required by law.
Seventh, Eighth and Ninth offense convictions require the judge to issue a prison sentence with a mandatory minimum of 3 years initial confinement. The maximum penalty is 12.5 years imprisonment, $25,000 fine and between 2 and 3 years revocation of your driver’s license.
Click here for more information on penalties.
Refusing The Test
Upon being arrested for OWI, the officer will read to you a document called “Informing the Accused” and ask you if you will consent to an evidentiary test of your blood, breath or urine (“The Test”). If you do not answer, your silence will be deemed a refusal.
Refusing “the test” has consequences that you must consider. If you have been deemed to have “refused” the evidentiary chemical test, you will be provided with several documents.
One document is the Informing the Accused which will note your “no” answer. You will also be issued a Notice of Intent to Revoke. This document explains that you have the right to request a hearing on the refusal.
This is very important! If you are charged with an OWI and a refusal you must timely request a refusal hearing (within 10 days from the notice date on the Notice of Intent to Revoke).
If you do not timely request a refusal hearing then the refusal hearing will be deemed waived and the clerk of courts will process the refusal. Your license will be revoked for at least one year and you will not be eligible for an occupational period for at least 30 days. Refusals also count as a prior conviction.
If you refuse “the test” then the law enforcement can apply for a search warrant for testing of your blood.
Did you know that the DOT will suspend your license even if you are not convicted of an OWI? It’s true. If you consent to the evidentiary chemical test and your BAC is determined to be .08 or above (in 1st, 2nd and 3rd offense cases) or above .02 (in all cases 4th offense and above) then the arresting law enforcement agency will mail (or personally serve you) a Notice of Intent to Suspend.
Along with the Notice you will also receive a Request for Administrative Review Hearing. This document is time sensitive as it must be mailed in to the DOT within 13 days of the Notice Date if mailed to you and within 10 days if personally served on you. If you do not timely request a hearing then the hearing is deemed waived. Jessie Weber can take action on your behalf to prevent this suspension from taking place.
If you hold a CDL and you are convicted of an OWI 1st offense, your CDL will be disqualified for one year. If you are charged with an OWI and your license is administratively suspended the DOT will disqualify your CDL for one year even if you have not been convicted of the OWI. If you are charged with and convicted of a second offense OWI your CDL will be disqualified for life.
Click here for more information regarding OWIs and CDLs.
Eau Claire OWI Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with an OWI, you need a qualified OWI lawyer to protect your rights. Choosing the right attorney is an important decision and can be a difficult one.
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