What are the Penalties for OWI?
Wisconsin has minimum and maximum penalties in place for OWI convictions
based on the circumstances of the offense and the number of prior offenses
within the last 10 years or within a lifetime for third and subsequent offenses.
- There is generally no required jailtime
- Fines of $150-$300
- 5 days to 6 months of jail
- Fines of $350-$1,100
- 45 days to 1 year behind bars
- $600-$2,000 in fines
Higher BAC concentrations will increase the minimum and maximum fines,
though. Drivers with an excessive BAC of 0.17%-0.199% will face doubled
fines, and those with a BAC of 0.20%-0.249% will face tripled fines.
The court will also order a driver’s license revocation for the following
periods upon conviction:
- First offense – 6-9 months
- Second offense – 12-18 months
- Third offense – 2-3 years
Underage drivers convicted of OWI with a BAC between 0.02%-0.08% may face
a 3-month license suspension and $200 fine.
Every person convicted of an OWI must also submit to a drug and alcohol
evaluation, which will be used to create a driver safety plan which outlines
the treatment, OWI education, and sobriety testing required for the offender.
Depending on your case, there are some alternative ways to fulfill jail
time. For instance, a judge can order 30 days of community service instead
of jail time for a second offense. Some jail terms can also be suspended
if the judge orders probation for the defendant. For a third offense OWI,
however, the judge must order at least 14 days of jail time even if probation
and treatment are in place.
Field Sobriety Tests
The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is made of up 3 individual tests:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test - In this test the officer will observe the eyes of the person in question
as they slowly move a pen or small object back and forth to look for indicators
in each eye that the person is impaired.
Walk-and-turn test - The officer will instruct the person to take nine steps, touching heel-to-toe
in a straight line and the return back. The officer is looking for signs
of impairment such as not being able to keep their balance, starting before
the instructions are finished or not following the instructions properly.
One-leg stand test - In this test, the officer instructs the person to stand with one foot off
the ground and hold it for about 30 seconds or until told to put it down.
The officer looks for signs of impairment such as swaying, hoping or using
their arms to balance.
Wisconsin has a "Safe Streets" option for some offenders to undergo
special treatment for a reduced jail sentence. For a second offender,
treatment could cut jail time to 5-7 days, and for a third offender, it
could be reduced to 14 days to 1 year.
If an individual’s license is revoked for an OWI, in most cases they
can still request restricted driving privileges through an occupational
or hardship license that can be used no more than 12 hours a day and 60
hours per week to go to essential places like work, school, or treatment.
For first-time offenders, there is no waiting to period to get the occupational
license; second or subsequent OWI offenders, however, must wait 45 days
into their revocation period before applying. Be aware that installation
of an ignition interlock device (IID) will be required for at least 1
year after the driver obtains either a hardship license or a reinstated