Do OWI repeat offenders get harsher penalties?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Owi

Every parent only wants the best for the child, but what happens to their future if they are facing drunk driving charges? OWI, or operating while intoxicated, is often a civil violation in Wisconsin but may carry heavier penalties if the individual is a repeat offender.

First-time offenders punishments

Unlike other states, Wisconsin classifies first-time OWI as a civil offense and not a criminal one. Still, significant consequences exist, including fines ranging from $150 to $300, potential license suspension for six to nine months, and mandatory alcohol assessment classes. These are preventive measures that encourage responsible behavior that may avoid future accidents.

Penalties for subsequent offenses

A second or third OWI within five years may become a misdemeanor with potential jail time, increased fines and a longer license suspension. Charges may escalate to a felony if an individual is a repeat offender (four incidents or more), and they may suffer losing their license permanently, go to prison and pay higher fines. These can impact a young person’s future, limiting career and educational opportunities.

What can the parents do about it?

An OWI charge can be overwhelming for young individuals and their parents. Parents can help young people avoid the situation altogether by discussing the dangers of drunk driving and possible penalties, reiterating the risks drivers take if they operate a vehicle under the influence.

However, people make mistakes – particularly young people. A mistake does not make them a bad person, and they deserve to get the support they need to learn from this experience. They may seek professional help and join alcohol abuse treatment programs so they can get back on the right path to a better future.

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