Are OWI charges less serious if you are close to turning 21?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Owi

Many people in Wisconsin face OWI charges. Some are younger than 21 but may be close to turning that age.

In these cases, it is natural to wonder if proximity to turning 21 can influence the severity of OWI charges.

Penalties for OWI offenses

Strictly speaking, it does not matter whether you are 18 years old or a month from turning 21. The court sees younger individuals, even those close to turning 21, as less mature and more prone to making impulsive decisions.

About one in every five Wisconsin drivers has at least one OWI. These drivers face fines, license suspension or revocation, mandatory alcohol education programs and even jail time. Much depends on the circumstances of the offense and any prior convictions.

Mitigating factors

In some cases, judges may take mitigating factors into account when determining sentencing for OWI offenses. Factors such as a clean criminal record, active participation in alcohol education programs, community service and evidence of responsible behavior can potentially influence the court’s decision.

Good grades and a strong work history may show responsibility and maturity. For young individuals facing OWI charges, demonstrating a commitment to academic achievement or maintaining steady employment can help portray them in a positive light to the court.

However, these factors alone are unlikely to result in a significant reduction in charges or penalties.

Zero tolerance for underage drinking

Wisconsin has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Drivers under the age of 21 can face serious consequences for driving with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Even a small amount of alcohol can lead to an OWI charge for those under the legal drinking age.

Being informed and proactive can help individuals work toward a good outcome.

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