Did you know that a first OWI offense in Wisconsin is not necessarily a crime? It is considered a ticket-worthy offense only, unless your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measures over 0.15 or you were driving with a minor (a child age 16 or younger) in your car. Only after your third OWI does Wisconsin consider your conviction a felony.
An OWI is a felony in Wisconsin once you have been convicted of your fourth drunk driving offense within five years. With that felony comes prison time, from 60 days to a year, plus revocation of your driver’s license for two to three years after that. You will also have to use an ignition interlock device (IID) for up to three years after getting out of jail. With a minor in the vehicle, you are looking at up to 12 years in jail and up to six years of ignition interlock device usage. An OWI in Wisconsin is considered a Class H felony up through the sixth offense. This charge is also applied to drunk driving offenders who caused injury and had at least one other OWI on record or who refused to take the chemical test.
Other Wisconsin Felony OWI Facts include:
- After your sixth OWI, you will be charged with a Class G felony and up to 10 years in prison.
- With 10 or more OWI convictions, you will face a Class F felony and up to 12.5 years in prison.
- You could also be charged with a Class F felony if you cause great bodily harm during any OWI offense.
- An actual homicide that occurs during your OWI incident is a Class D felony if no other prior OWIs are on record.
- If you do have another OWI conviction and you commit a homicide while OWI, you face a Class C felony and up to 40 years in prison.
Despite Wisconsin OWI law considering a first-offense OWI little more than a traffic ticket, there are certainly laws that discourage drinking and driving in the state. A felony OWI in Wisconsin is serious and can change your life forever. As the state continues to focus on preventing drunk driving, including using ignition interlock devices and supporting more awareness and education, there is hope that the days of all OWIs in the state will quickly come to an end.