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Harsher Penalties For Wisconsin OWIs

In late April, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill that significantly increases penalties for people who have been charged with a fourth offense OWI or greater.

Here are the changes:

  • Fourth offense OWI is now an automatic felony rather than a criminal misdemeanor
  • Fifth and sixth offense OWIs can now land a defendant in prison for five years (previously three)
  • Seventh, eighth and ninth offense OWIs now carry a prison time of 7.5 years (previously five years)

If you have been accused of repeat drunk driving, it is now more important than ever to hire a defense attorney who is familiar with the law and the defenses available to you.

The Difference Between A Felony And A Misdemeanor

Increasing the fourth offense OWI penalty to a felony is significant. The maximum fine increases from $2,000 to $10,000 and max jail time increases from one year to three years.

What Will This Change Cost Wisconsin Citizens?

Every time jail becomes the go-to solution for criminal offenses, the state pays. Combined, the state is expected to pay between $98 million and $129 million per year for this change in Wisconsin OWI laws. Which begs the question: Is jail the right answer? These drivers already face driver's license revocation and thousands of dollars in fines in addition to a significant mark on their criminal records. Is there another solution to discourage drunk driving?

Accused Of Repeat OWI? Get Help Soon.

If you have been accused of repeat OWI, prosecutors will take your case seriously. You need an experienced defense lawyer on your side to protect your rights and your future. There may be ways to argue against your arrest, challenge the results of your Breathalyzer test or negotiate a reduced penalty.

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