Third OWI in Wisconsin: Best Ways to Minimize Mandatory Jail Time and Chances of a Conviction
If you’re facing a third OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) offense in Wisconsin, it’s crucial to understand the serious consequences and how to protect your future. A third OWI in Wisconsin is a criminal charge with severe penalties if convicted. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to navigate this challenging situation.
Third OWI in Wisconsin: Understanding Third OWI Penalties
As of 2023, the penalties and fines for a third-offense OWI in Wisconsin are as follows:
- Jail Time: You may face imprisonment ranging from 45 days to 1 year.
- Fines: Fines can vary from $600 to $2,000, plus an additional $435 ‘driver improvement’ surcharge.
- Driver’s License Revocation: Your driver’s license will be revoked for a period of 2 to 3 years.
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID): Mandatory installation of an IID for 1 to 3 years.
- Absolute Sobriety: You will be required to maintain absolute sobriety for an occupational license.
- Lifetime BAC Limit: Your legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit will be reduced to .02 for the rest of your life.
- Travel Restrictions: You may face travel bans to Canada and encounter difficulties traveling in the European Union.
It’s important to note that as a repeat offender, your third OWI conviction includes all prior OWI offenses, regardless of how long ago they occurred. If your BAC is .17 or higher at the time of your third OWI arrest, penalties can escalate further.
Enhanced Penalties for Excessive BAC for Third OWI in Wisconsin
Your BAC at the time of arrest can significantly impact your penalties:
- BAC between .17 – .199: Penalties include double the standard jail time and fines of up to $4,000.
- BAC between .20 – .2499: Penalties involve triple the standard jail time and fines of up to $6,000.
- BAC of .25 or greater: Penalties result in quadruple the standard jail time and fines of up to $8,000.
Special Circumstances: Third OWI in Wisconsin with Minors or Causing Injury
If there was a minor under the age of 16 in the vehicle during your third OWI arrest, the consequences become even more severe:
- Your third OWI charge becomes a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
- You may face up to 2 years in jail.
- Fines can reach up to $4,000.
- Driver’s license revocation increases to 4-6 years.
- Mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) for 4-6 years.
- Absolute sobriety is required for an occupational license.
A third offense OWI that causes injury is classified as a Class H felony with additional penalties:
- Up to 6 years in prison.
- Fines of up to $10,000.
- Penalties double if the injured person was under 16 years old.
If a third OWI results in great bodily harm, it becomes a Class F felony with even harsher penalties:
- Up to 12.5 years in prison.
- Fines of up to $25,000.
- Penalties increase if a pregnant woman (unborn child) was in the vehicle.
A third offense OWI leading to Homicide While OWI is a Class C felony with the following consequences:
- Up to 40 years in prison.
- Fines of up to $100,000.
- Penalties increase if a pregnant woman (unborn child) was in the vehicle.
Can You Fight a Third OWI Conviction in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can fight a third OWI conviction in Wisconsin. It’s essential to enlist the help of a skilled OWI defense attorney who can identify crucial issues in your case and vigorously advocate for the best possible outcome. At Grieve Law, we have a proven track record of successfully challenging mishandled DUI arrests, leading to reduced or dropped third OWI charges.
Understanding Repeat Offender Consequences for Third OWI in Wisconsin
As of February 2022, 58,601 Wisconsin drivers had three OWI convictions in 2021. Repeat offenders face increasingly severe consequences, and the law is unforgiving for those charged with a third OWI.
With a third OWI offense, the rule that your last offense had to occur within ten years no longer applies. Your third DUI conviction includes any prior DUI convictions, regardless of how long ago they occurred.
Permanent Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC) for Third OWI in Wisconsin
Anyone with three DUI convictions in Wisconsin is permanently subject to a PAC (prohibited alcohol concentration) of .02, even if previous OWI convictions occurred in other states. This means that if you are caught driving with a BAC of .02 or higher after your third DUI, you can be charged with Operating with a PAC, 4th Offense, which is a felony charge.
Multiple DUIs in Wisconsin can result in various factors influencing the severity of penalties you face.
The Role of BAC Levels in Third OWI Penalties
Wisconsin’s excessive BAC Escalator applies when you are arrested for a third DUI with a BAC of .17 or higher. This escalator system significantly increases penalties:
- BAC between .17 and .199: Penalties double.
- BAC between .20 and .2499: Penalties triple.
- BAC exceeding .25: Penalties quadruple.
Felony Charges for Third OWI in Wisconsin
Depending on the circumstances of your third OWI arrest, you could be facing felony charges in Wisconsin. A third offense OWI becomes a felony if there was a minor under the age of 16 in your vehicle. This leads to escalated penalties, including up to 2 years in jail, an extended driver’s license revocation period, substantial fines, and an extended IID requirement.
Jail Time for a Third OWI in Wisconsin
A third DUI conviction in Wisconsin carries a minimum jail sentence of 45 days and a maximum of 1 year. The length of your sentence can increase based on your BAC at the time of your arrest. Having a minor passenger under the age of 16 in the car doubles both the minimum and maximum jail time.
Exploring Options to Minimize Jail Time for Third OWI in Wisconsin
In certain cases, individuals with third offense DUIs may qualify for Wisconsin Safe Streets. This program allows repeat offenders to undergo drug and alcohol treatment in exchange for a reduced jail sentence. However, it’s important to note that eligibility for this program can vary widely between districts, and participation comes with strict requirements, including random drug and alcohol testing and counseling.
To increase your chances of reducing your jail time and other penalties, it’s crucial to have an experienced DUI lawyer defend your case. Attorney King Tse, with a proven record of success, specializes in reducing or even eliminating drunk driving charges for clients.
Driver’s License Revocation
Upon a third DUI offense conviction in Wisconsin, your driver’s license will be revoked for a period of years. If you refused a field sobriety test at the time of your arrest, the police have the authority to revoke your license immediately, for up to 3 years. If a passenger under the age of 16 was in the car during your arrest, your license revocation period could extend to 6 years.
Eligibility for an Occupational License
You may be eligible to apply for an occupational license 45 days after any conviction of a third DUI. However, there is no eligibility for an occupational license before this 45-day period.
It’s important to recognize that the officer in your case may attempt to downplay the charges and make the case seem clear-cut. They may discuss fines and sentences as though they are inevitable. However, the officer’s primary goal is not to protect your best interests. Many circumstances can affect how your case unfolds in court, and an experienced drunk driving lawyer can leverage various strategies to reduce or dismiss your charges.
How Long Does a Third OWI Conviction Stay on Your Record?
A third OWI conviction remains on your Wisconsin driving and criminal record for the rest of your life. Moreover, Wisconsin’s lifetime look-back policy means that when you’re charged with a third OWI, it doesn’t matter how many years have passed since your last drunk driving arrest.
Additional Considerations for Third OWI in Wisconsin Offenses
Refusal of Field Sobriety Test
If you refused to undergo a field sobriety test at the time of your arrest, the police have the authority to revoke your license immediately for 1 to 3 years (or up to 6 years if a passenger under the age of 16 was present in the car).
Out-of-State License Holders
Drivers who reside in another state but are convicted of a DUI in Wisconsin face penalties in both states. Your home state will be informed of your Wisconsin OWI conviction, leading to potential consequences in your home state as well.
Strategies to Fight a Third OWI Conviction
Fighting a third OWI conviction requires a strategic approach, and there are various aspects to consider:
1. Illegal Stop
Challenging the legality of the traffic stop is common. If you were not violating any traffic laws and the police stopped you without justification, your case may be subject to scrutiny. An experienced DUI lawyer can assess whether the stop was legal or not and build your defense accordingly.
2. Improper Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests must adhere to strict standards. Breathalyzer test results can be flawed due to inadequate maintenance or errors during administration. Procedures must be correctly followed and results thoroughly evaluated. If field sobriety tests were not performed or evaluated properly, you have a strong case for dismissal or reduction of charges.
3. Mishandled Blood Alcohol Test
Mistakes can occur when handling and processing blood alcohol tests. Human error or malfunctioning equipment can lead to misleading results. Proper documentation is essential for blood test results to be admissible as evidence. If the correct procedures were not followed, you may have a strong case for the dismissal of DUI charges.
4. Challenging a Previous OWI Conviction
A strategy known as collateral attack can potentially reduce third offense OWI penalties and fines. A successful collateral attack means that the court cannot use a prior OWI conviction for sentencing purposes in your current case. It’s crucial to hire a drunk driving lawyer to review your previous drunk driving convictions to determine if a collateral attack strategy is viable for your third drunk driving charge.
What Happens After Three DUIs in Wisconsin?
After three OWIs, your fourth offense is classified as a felony. This results in a lifetime driver’s license revocation, and you may face the possibility of prison time.
FAQs for Individuals Facing Third OWI in Wisconsin
How many DUIs is a felony in Wisconsin?
An OWI offense can be a felony in Wisconsin in several ways:
- Any OWI 4th offense and above is a felony.
- A second offense causing injury and above is a felony.
- Any OWI causing homicide is also a felony.
How long do you go to jail for a Third OWI in Wisconsin?
A third offense OWI carries the following penalties:
- Jail time ranging from 45 days to one year.
- License revocation for 1 year to 3 years.
- Mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) for 2 years to 3 years.
- Fines ranging from $600 to $2,000.
Can you get probation for a Third OWI in Wisconsin?
Yes, but you still have to serve the minimum jail time. You could be sentenced to probation to lower your jail time, but you will still need to serve a minimum of 45 days.
Can I avoid jail time for a Third OWI in Wisconsin?
No, if you are convicted of a third OWI offense, you must serve at least 45 days in jail. This can be done with electronic monitoring and/or Huber release.
Is a Third OWI in Wisconsin a felony?
Depending on the circumstances of your third OWI arrest, you could be facing felony charges. A third offense OWI in Wisconsin is a felony if there was a minor under the age of 16 in your vehicle.
How can I avoid jail time for a third OWI in Wisconsin?
In some cases, people with third offense DUIs may qualify for the Wisconsin Safe Streets program. This program allows repeat offenders to undergo drug and alcohol treatment in exchange for a reduced jail sentence. However, the best chance of reducing jail time and other penalties is to have an experienced DUI lawyer defending your case.
Seek Legal Help from Dahlberg Law Group for Third OWI in Wisconsinn
Navigating a third OWI charge in Wisconsin is complex and challenging. To protect your future and minimize the consequences, it’s crucial to have a skilled OWI defense attorney by your side. Contact Attorney King Tse at Dahlberg Law Group for expert legal assistance at (262) 677-8999.
Don’t face a third OWI charge alone. Contact Attorney King Tse at Dahlberg Law Group to help you navigate this difficult situation and work towards the best possible outcome at (262) 677-8999. Your future is at stake, and we are here to fight for your rights and defend your interests.