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First time DUI offenders in Wisconsin must appear in court

Wisconsin motorists who have been charged with a DUI for the first time may have been caught off-guard. Some drivers may not be fully aware that they are driving while intoxicated. State law constitutes anyone who operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or above as legally intoxicated. Depending on body weight and tolerance, however, some drinkers may be able to reach that blood alcohol content and still feel it within their ability to drive.

Those who are charged with a first-time DUI will face harsh consequences if they don’t appear in court, according to a bill proposed by a republican representative. In addition to paying DUI fines, the bill states that people who fail to appear would be required to pay a surcharge of $300. The bill also states that people could be arrested and would be automatically found guilty of the DUI charge. This means that, even if people are innocent, they could find themselves with a DUI on their record.

The proposed bill was recently passed by the state Senate’s public safety committee. Currently, the fine for a first-offense DUI is payable by phone or in person, much like a speeding ticket.

Receiving DUI charges can be overwhelming. In addition to fees, a DUI conviction can prevent people from obtaining employment in certain industries, affect their current employment and result in administrative action regarding their license to drive in the state. Many people going through this situation may benefit from the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney who can help protect their legal rights.

Source: Wisconsin Law Journal, “Panel Oks court appearances for 1st drunk driving offense,” Feb. 27, 2014

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