Fifth OWI in Wisconsin: Critical Information to Know and Actions to Take if You’re Facing Your Fifth or More OWI in Wisconsin
If you’re confronting the harsh consequences of a 5th DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge in Wisconsin, you’re in a serious legal predicament. A 5th OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) offense in Wisconsin is classified as a Class G felony as of 2023, and it carries severe penalties that can profoundly impact your life. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the critical information you need to know about facing your fifth or more OWI in Wisconsin.
Fifth OWI in Wisconsin: Understanding the Penalties
Felony Penalties for Your Fifth OWI in Wisconsin Start at 18 Months in Prison
A 5th offense OWI in Wisconsin is a Class G felony, and the penalties are substantial:
- Presumptive minimum sentence of 18 months in prison
- Driver’s license revoked for 2-3 years
- Driver’s license revoked for life with no possibility of an occupational license if you’ve had a previous conviction within 15 years
- Up to $25,000 in fines
- 1-3 years of mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) installation if eligible
- Absolute sobriety is required for an occupational license if eligible
- Travel ban to Canada and complications traveling abroad in the European Union
It’s important to note that if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .17 or higher at the time of your fifth OWI arrest, the penalties escalate significantly.
Enhanced Penalties for a Fifth OWI in Wisconsin with Excessive BAC
The penalties for a 5th OWI increase substantially with higher BAC levels:
- BAC .17 – .199: Double the penalties, 1 year to 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $50,000.
- BAC .20 – .2499: Triple the penalties, 1.5 years to 30 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $75,000.
- BAC .25 or greater: Quadruple the penalties, 2 years to 40 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $100,000.
Consequences of a 5th Felony Drunk Driving Conviction
A 5th DUI conviction in Wisconsin is a life-altering event with far-reaching consequences, including:
- Limited employment opportunities
- Custody challenges for your children
- Restrictions on international travel
- Ineligibility for security clearances and professional licenses
- Inability to join the armed forces
- Housing difficulties
Additionally, you’ll face years of close supervision, even after being released from prison, and you won’t regain your voting rights until two years after your probation ends. The lifetime ban on owning a firearm, which began with your 4th OWI conviction, remains in effect.
Multiple Offenses Beyond the 5th OWI in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, the penalties for OWI offenses become increasingly severe with each subsequent conviction:
6th DUI in Wisconsin
According to Wisconsin Statutes, the charges and penalties for a 5th or 6th OWI offense are identical. However, if you’ve already been convicted of five prior OWI charges, it’s unlikely that a judge will impose the minimum sentence.
7th DUI in Wisconsin
A 7th DUI conviction is classified as a Class F felony, with penalties that include a minimum of 3 years in state prison, fines of up to $25,000, license revocation, and up to 3 years with a mandatory IID (Ignition Interlock Device) or participation in a 24/7 sobriety program.
8th DUI in Wisconsin
The charges and penalties for an 8th DUI are the same as those for a 7th DUI. However, with seven prior convictions, it’s improbable that a judge will sentence you to the minimum penalties.
9th DUI in Wisconsin
A 9th DUI is also a Class F felony, carrying the same penalties as a 7th or 8th DUI. Penalties can increase significantly if you have an excessive BAC or a minor under 16 in the vehicle.
10th DUI in Wisconsin
For 10th and subsequent DUI offenses in Wisconsin, you face Class E felony charges. Penalties include up to 15 years in prison, fines of up to $50,000, and multiple years of license revocation and other driving restrictions.
How Long Does a Fifth OWI in Wisconsin Stay on Your Record?
A fifth OWI felony remains on your Wisconsin driving and criminal record for the rest of your life. Wisconsin’s lifetime look-back policy means that when you’re charged with a fifth OWI, it doesn’t matter how many years have passed since your last drunk driving arrest; all of your prior OWI convictions count.
Can a Conviction for a Fifth OWI in Wisconsin Be Expunged?
No, a Wisconsin court will not expunge a 5th drunk driving conviction for any reason. Even if expungement were possible, it would only alter your public record. The Department of Transportation (DOT) does not recognize expungements, so all OWI offenses will remain on your driving record indefinitely.
Can a Lawyer Help Me Beat Charges for a Fifth OWI in Wisconin?
Every DUI case is unique, and the outcome depends on the specific circumstances of your arrest. However, there are potential legal avenues to challenge a 5th OWI charge:
Fifth OWI in Wisconsin: Illegal Stop
If you believe you were pulled over without a valid reason, you may have grounds to challenge your 5th OWI charge. An experienced attorney can help determine whether the police had a legal right to stop you.
Fifth OWI in Wisconsin: Improper Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests must adhere to strict standards to be admissible as evidence. Even if you were driving under the influence, if the tests were conducted incorrectly or inadequately evaluated, you can mount a defense.
Fifth OWI in Wisconsin: Mishandled Blood Alcohol Test
Blood alcohol testing must follow precise procedures. If equipment was improperly maintained, human error occurred, or specimen storage was mishandled, the test results may be inadmissible.
Fifth OWI in Wisconsin: BAC While Driving Below the Legal Limit
The timing of a BAC test matters. Your blood alcohol level continues to rise after you stop drinking. The “curve defense” argues that if you hadn’t been stopped, you would have reached home before exceeding the legal limit. Successfully using this defense can lead to a reduced charge.
Challenging Prior OWI Convictions
A collateral attack defense reviews your previous OWI convictions to potentially overturn one of them, preventing it from being used as a prior offense for sentencing. This strategy can reduce a 5th OWI charge to a lesser offense with reduced fines and penalties.
Facing a 5th or higher DUI charge puts your financial future and personal freedom at serious risk. While there may be ways to mitigate or even dismiss your 5th DUI charge, it’s essential to have an experienced drunk driving lawyer advocating for your case.
Dahlberg Law Group: Fighting Charges for Fifth OWI in Wisconsin
When facing a Fifth OWI in Wisconsinn, you need a seasoned drunk driving lawyer in your corner. The award-winning legal team at Dahlberg Law Group and Attorney King Tse has a track record of successfully reducing or eliminating DUI charges for their clients. Give us a call at (262) 677-8999.
For more information on Wisconsin’s criminal process and laws, visit [Wisconsin State Law Library](https://wilawlibrary