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What penalties do OWIs lead to?

You were driving home when you saw the flashing lights behind you. You knew you had a few drinks, but did you have too much? If so, what kind of penalties do you face now?

Wisconsin has a number of laws regarding driving or operating a vehicle while intoxicated. These laws do not apply only to driving while intoxicated by alcohol; if you use prescription drugs that affect your ability to drive safely or take illegal drugs that affect your ability to drive, then you may face an OWI for either of those acts. An OWI doesn't only apply to drivers of land vehicles, either. If you drive a boat while intoxicated or use a snowmobile while drunk, you can face an OWI.

Regardless of where or what you drive, the highest legal limit for your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent. In Wisconsin, this BAC is known as the Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC). An OWI often combines with a PAC citation, leading to additional fines and penalties.

Wisconsin is serious about the dangers of drinking and driving, so criminal penalties are high. A first OWI can land you with fines of up to $300, although jail time is not required. You may lose your license for up to nine months. If you are facing your second OWI, then you could spend up to six months in jail, with the minimum being only five days. This highlights the importance of working with your defense attorney from early on, so you can focus on lowering or eliminating penalties. Fines reach up to $1,100 for a second OWI, and you could lose your license for up to 18 months.

Source: FindLaw, "What Are the Wisconsin OWI Laws?," accessed March 28, 2017

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