Here in Wisconsin, penalties for OWI offenses are pegged to how many past offenses a person has. Among the things this results in is Wisconsin law treating first-time OWI offenses differently than repeat offenses in several different respects.
One of the bigger differences involves jail time. For repeat OWI offenses, jail time is generally on the table. However, it typically is not for a first-offense OWI.
Also, while repeat offenses will generally trigger a required period of ignition interlock device use for the person convicted of OWI, a first offense in many cases will not. An exception to this though is that such a requirement is triggered for a first-time OWI conviction if the conviction was for driving with a BAC of over 0.15.
Also, first-time offenses have some different rules when it comes to license revocations. For example, for license revocations for a repeat OWI offense, there is a waiting period a person has to go through before they can apply to get an “occupational license” that would allow them certain restricted driving authorization. For revocations for a first offense however, a person can apply for such a license right away.
Other differences for first-time OWI offenses include a lower fine range and a lower license revocation period length range.
While first-time offenses have different penalty rules than repeat offenses when it comes to OWI in Wisconsin, there are certain things that are the case for both individuals accused of a first-time offense and individuals accused of a repeat offense in the state. One is that strong legal representation can be incredibly important. Even with the penalty rule differences, a conviction on a first-time OWI offense can have major life impacts. Also, when facing any type of OWI allegation, having guidance that takes into account the unique circumstances of one’s particular case (including what penalties could be on the table) can be critical.
Source: FindLaw, “What Are the Wisconsin OWI Laws?,” Accessed Aug. 17, 2016