When it comes to driving under the influence (DUI) or operating while intoxicated (OWI) charges, it’s important to understand these two offenses. Both DUI and OWI are serious criminal charges that can have significant consequences on your life. But what is the difference between a DUI and OWI? Is there one?
In this article, we will discuss the differences between DUI and OWI in the state of Wisconsin to help you better understand these charges and make informed decisions. If you or a loved one is facing such charges, seek help from an experienced OWI attorney right away to best protect your future.
- What is the Difference Between a DUI and an OWI?
- What Motor Vehicles Are Included in OWI Laws?
- Penalties for DUI and OWI
- What are the Consequences of a DUI or OWI?
- What Should You Do if Charged with a DUI or OWI?
- Avoiding DUI or OWI Charges
- Seeking Legal Help
1. What is the Difference Between a DUI and an OWI?
In the state of Wisconsin, these terms are often used interchangeably, but Wisconsin is an OWI state. In other words, driving under the influence is referred to as operating while intoxicated in Wisconsin.
Some states, like Wisconsin, use the term OWI, while others use DUI or DWI (driving while intoxicated). All terms refer to drunk driving.
The main noticeable difference between a DUI and an OWI is that a DUI requires the person to be driving a vehicle, whereas an OWI only requires someone to be under the influence and in the driver’s seat of a vehicle. For an OWI, the vehicle does not have to be in motion. This means, in the state of Wisconsin, someone can be charged with an OWI for being intoxicated in the driver’s seat of an idling car.
2. What Motor Vehicles Are Included in OWI Laws?
In the state of Wisconsin, the law strictly prohibits the operation of any vehicle powered by a motor while impaired by alcohol or drugs. This comprehensive ban encompasses not just cars, trucks, and buses, but also motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, boats, and even bicycles equipped with motors.
3. Penalties for DUI and OWI
In Wisconsin, the penalties for an OWI can vary depending on several factors such as prior offenses, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at the time of arrest, and whether there was an accident or injury involved.
For first-time offenders, charges carry fines ranging from $150 to $300, a 6-9 month driver’s license revocation, and possible jail time up to six months. For subsequent offenses, the penalties increase significantly. Additionally, in Wisconsin, an OWI stays on your criminal record for life. Even with expungement, certain agencies like potential employers, schools and landlords that request information about your conviction may be able to access it.
4. What are the Consequences of a DUI or OWI?
In addition to legal penalties listed above, an OWI conviction can have long-lasting effects on your personal and professional life. You may face difficulty finding employment, obtaining a professional license, or even securing housing. Your insurance rates may also increase significantly.
Furthermore, an OWI conviction can have emotional consequences such as shame, guilt, and strain on personal relationships. It’s important to seek support and guidance during this challenging time.
5. What Should You Do if Charged with a DUI or OWI?
If you are charged with an OWI in Wisconsin, it’s crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced OWI attorney right away. They can help protect your rights and potentially reduce or dismiss the charges against you.
Furthermore, educating yourself on the laws and penalties of OWI in Wisconsin is essential. By understanding the consequences, you can make informed decisions regarding your case.
6. Avoiding DUI or OWI Charges
The best way to avoid DUI or OWI charges is to not drink and drive. Always have a designated driver, use rideshare services, or phone a friend for a ride home if you plan on drinking alcohol. Additionally, be aware of the legal limit in Wisconsin, which is 0.08% BAC for individuals 21 and over.
7. Seeking Legal Help
In summary, DUI and OWI are interchangeable terms in Wisconsin. If charged with an OWI, it’s important to seek legal representation right away from experienced lawyers like those at Fenton Law.
Fenton Law provides expert criminal defense for drunk driving charges in Milwaukee and nearby cities. If you are in need of a Milwaukee OWI attorney, call Fenton Law today.
By Attorney Jay Fenton, Owner of Fenton Law Office
Jay Fenton is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in Milwaukee who goes above and beyond for his clients. He has successfully secured favorable outcomes in countless cases, from negotiating plea agreements to filing pre-trial motions and managing complex appeals. Attorney Fenton also has had tremendous success achieving not-guilty verdicts at trial. His dedication and aggressiveness make him one of the best attorneys around.