Why young people can't underestimate OWI charges

At this time of the year, many young people are living at home and working, counting down the days until the start of the fall semester. Understandably bored with this monotony, those 21 and older may decide to head to local bars to have some fun with friends.

While this is a perfectly acceptable way for young people to spend an evening, problems can arise if they consume just one more beer, one more cocktail or one more glass of wine than they had planned, and are pulled over by law enforcement officials on the way home.

That's because chances are good that they may be placed under arrest for operating a vehicle while intoxicated -- a charge referred to in many other jurisdictions as driving under the influence -- as their blood alcohol content will be at or over .08.

This naturally raises the question as to what consequences a young person of legal drinking age could anticipate from a conviction for first-offense or even second-offense OWI/DUI here in Wisconsin.

While a conviction for first-offense OWI/DUI will result in no jail time, a person could still be hit with a fine of anywhere from $150 to $300, and a license suspension of anywhere from 6 to 9 months.

As for a second-offense OWI/DUI, a person could be fined anywhere from $300 to $1,100, and sentenced to anywhere from five days to six months in jail. In addition, the law calls for a license suspension of twelve to eighteen months, and the installation of ignition interlock devices on all vehicles titled/registered in the person's name.

Aside from these consequences, young people should know that they can face certain collateral consequences, including increased insurance rates, difficulty securing employment owing to a criminal record, and perhaps even disciplinary action by their college or university.

What all of this serves to underscore is that young people who find themselves in this situation should strongly consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible given everything that is at stake.

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