The Impact of a DUI/OWI Conviction on Your Driver’s License
One of the most significant consequences of a DUI or OWI conviction is its impact on your driving privileges. Whether it’s getting to your job, school or taking care of your family, losing your driver’s license is more than just an inconvenience. It affects your everyday life.
This article aims to shed light on the potential consequences of a DUI/OWI conviction in Wisconsin on your driver’s license. We’ll look at how these convictions can result in temporary suspensions or even permanent revocations. We’ll also pay special attention to how these laws apply in the state of Wisconsin, and how a criminal defense attorney can help you.
- Understanding Wisconsin DUI/OWI Laws
- Penalties Vary by Conviction Level
- What Happens When Your License Is Suspended?
- What Are Habitual Traffic Offender Laws?
- What Are the Long-Term Consequences of a DUI/OWI?
- What if I Refuse to Take the Breathalyzer Test?
- How to Receive a Restricted License After an OWI or DUI Conviction
- Understanding Your Rights After an OWI or DUI Conviction
1. Understanding Wisconsin DUI/OWI Laws
In Wisconsin, DUI is referred to as OWI (Operating While Intoxicated). Under Wisconsin law, a person can be charged with an OWI if they are found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08%.
2. Penalties Vary by Conviction Level
The penalties for a DUI/OWI conviction vary depending on how many prior convictions are on your record. If this is your first offense, you may be facing a lesser penalty than someone with multiple offenses. For instance, a first-time offense in Wisconsin could include:
- Fines $500+
- Up to nine months suspension of your license
- Mandatory alcohol treatment for 1 year
For a second offense, occurring within 10 years of the first, the penalties could include:
- Fines $1,100+
- Up to nine months suspension of your license
- Jail sentence of up to 6 months
License revocation or suspension periods are based on the severity of the conviction. A criminal defense lawyer in Milwaukee can help you understand your OWI charges and how to navigate them for the best possible outcome.
3. What Happens When Your License Is Suspended?
When your license is suspended due to a DUI/OWI conviction, it means you are legally prohibited from driving for a set period of time. The suspension period can vary based on the number of prior offenses and the specific circumstances of your case. During this time, any attempt to operate a vehicle can lead to further legal consequences, such as fines, an extended suspension period, or even jail time.
Additionally, getting your license reinstated after a suspension often requires completing certain steps like paying reinstatement fees, undergoing an alcohol assessment, and potentially installing an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. An IID is a breathalyzer installed in your car to prevent drunk driving. It requires the driver to provide a breath sample before the engine of the car can start.
Driving without a license in Wisconsin includes hefty fines and penalties, including jail time. It is a serious offense and not something that should be taken lightly.
4. What Are Habitual Traffic Offender Laws?
A driver may be declared a habitual traffic offender in Wisconsin if within five years you have an OWI and 3 additional major driving violations. You can also be declared a habitual traffic offender if you commit a combination of 12+ minor driving convictions.
Essentially, if you have many charges on your record during a short period of time, there are additional laws required of you, including: hefty fines and penalties, license suspension, and a lengthy process to get your license back.
5. What Are the Long-Term Consequences of a DUI/OWI?
In the state of Wisconsin, an OWI stays on your criminal record for life. This means, there are many possible long-term consequences including:
- Difficulty finding employment, especially in fields where driving is a job requirement or for positions that require a clean criminal record.
- Higher auto insurance premiums as insurers may view you as a high-risk driver.
- Possible civil litigation for damages or injuries caused if your driving caused a car accident.
- Social stigma including personal and professional implications
- Repeat offenders may face prison time or permanent revocation of their driving privileges.
6. What if I Refuse to Take the Breathalyzer Test?
Under Wisconsin laws, you can legally refuse to take a breathalyzer test; however, your license will automatically be suspended for one year. You may also be required to complete a sobriety program for one year.
7. How to Receive a Restricted License After an OWI or DUI Conviction
Getting a restricted or occupational license after an OWI or DUI conviction can be a complex process. First, you must serve any mandatory suspension period, which can vary based on your case.
Once this period has passed, you can apply for a restricted/occupational license at your local DMV. This typically involves providing proof of enrollment in a state-approved DUI school or alcohol/drug evaluation program, and potentially installing an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
Occupational licenses are only granted when you can prove that you are in need of the license for work, school, household duties and other necessary reasons. You will not be granted an occupational license for recreational purposes like wanting to visit friends and family. You may have limitations on the hours and locations that you are allowed to drive for instance only driving to the areas you need for work.
8. Understanding Your Rights After an OWI or DUI Conviction
In conclusion, a DUI/OWI conviction can have severe and long-lasting effects on your driving privileges. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you understand your rights and how to best navigate your case. The team at Fenton Law Office in Milwaukee has years of experience helping those facing an OWI charge. Call us today at 414-858-6650.
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.