Operating While Under the Influence (OWI)
Possible Penalties Associated with an OWI
The court has certain guidelines it will consider for determining penalties. Even though you may be charged with both OWI and PAC, you are penalized once. The court may also order that you participate in a Victim Impact Program where persons convicted of serious OWI violations or relatives of persons who were killed or seriously injured by an impaired driver talk about the impact of the OWI on their lives and the lives of others.
Penalties for the charge of OWI/OWI with Restricted Controlled Substance and/or Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC) of .08 and Above:
- Forfeiture (plus a $435 driver improvement surcharge and other mandatory costs): Approximately $735 to $924
- Driver's License Revocation: 6 to 9 months, plus $200 owed to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles to reinstate your license as valid. If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and are convicted of an OWI offense--even if the OWI conviction pertained to the operation of a non-commercial motor vehicle--you will be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for 1 year (3-year disqualification from transporting hazardous materials)
- Points: 6 points against your license (or possibly more if on probationary status)
- Alcohol Assessment: Mandatory (there is a separate cost of $300 for this)
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID): If you are convicted of an OWI or Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC) and your PAC was .15 or above, or if you are convicted of refusing to submit to the mandatory alcohol test after your OWI arrest or if you have a previous OWI-related conviction older than 10 years, the court must order that you cannot operate any “Class D” vehicles (the most common types of vehicles which include cars) for one year beginning when you either obtain an occupational license or when you get a regular license reinstated after the revocation period. In addition, the court will order that an IID be installed in all vehicles on which your name appears either on the title or registration when you either obtain an occupational license or reinstate your regular license at the end of your revocation period. You may request a hearing to exempt one or more vehicles for which your name appears on the certificate of title or registration. At this hearing the court will determine whether it would cause you undue financial hardship to require you to equip all vehicles upon which your name appears on the title or registration and that one or more of said vehicles should be exempted. You may also request a hearing to determine whether due to poverty you cannot afford to pay the full cost of equipping and maintaining an IID on your vehicle. If the court finds that your household income is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines the court will grant you a 50% reduction in the cost of installing and maintaining an IID. This reduction will be made by the company that installs and maintains the IID.
Applying for an Occupational License
You can apply for an occupational license in the county of your residence at the local Wisconsin Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Persons whose operating privileges have been suspended or revoked may apply for an occupational license to drive between home and work or school.
Requesting a Jury Trial
If you wish to request a jury trial, you must file a written request for a jury and pay the jury fees within 10 days of the initial plea of not guilty on the OWI charge.
Reinstating Your Driver's License
You must complete the alcohol assessment and referral. You must complete the revocation period. You then apply at Motor Vehicles and pay a reinstatement fee. This assumes you have not lost your license for any other reason.
First Offense and Subsequent Offenses
A first offense OWI is not a criminal charge, but a second OWI offense within the next 10 years will be a criminal charge. If you are convicted of a second OWI offense you will have a criminal record.
The following penalties are ordered for a person convicted of a second OWI offense:
- A fine of $350 to $1,100 plus mandatory costs and fees and a $435 OWI surcharge.
- A jail sentence from 5 days to 6 months.
- A 12-18 month driver’s license revocation. You can only apply for an occupational driver’s license after 45 days and it increases to 12 months if you have 2 or more OWI violations within 5 years.
- A mandatory assessment for which there is a separate cost. You cannot get your driver’s license reinstated until after you provide proof to Motor Vehicles that you completed the assessment and pay a reinstatement fee.
- 6 demerit points will be assessed against your driver’s license.
- The court will order that your driving privileges be restricted to vehicles that are equipped with an ignition interlock device.
*If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) there will be a lifetime disqualification on having a CDL license.
**The fine, jail time and driver’s license revocation period are doubled if a person under 16 years of age was in the vehicle at the time of the OWI second violation.