According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, law enforcement agencies across the state arrested 28,790 people for drunken or impaired driving in 2015. That’s an alarming number of motorists who had to deal with some of the painful realities of an operating while impaired charge. If you have hit with an OWI charge in Milwaukee, you need to be aware of these facts so that you can take the appropriate action.

An OWI Isn’t Just a Ticket

OWIs are treated differently in Wisconsin, and your first offense is considered a civil offense and not a criminal charge. It’s the only state that treats OWIs in this manner. But it should be noted that repeat offenses or one that involves aggravating circumstance such as causing a fatal crash are charged with felony crimes. Even as a civil offense, there are significant repercussions for a first-time OWI offense.

Below are some of the penalties associated with a conviction for a first offense-OWI:

Fine- Minimum $150 up to $300 plus an OWI surcharge of $365

Driver’s License Suspension- Between six and nine months

Ignition Interlock Device- If BAC exceeds 0.015 percent

Participation in an Alcohol of Drug Assessment program

What’s more, an OWI can stay on your

You Can Still Go to Jail

Even though an OWI is considered a civil offense, it is possible for you to be sentenced to jail under certain circumstances. For instance, if you have a blood alcohol concentration that exceeds 0.015 or was having a minor child in your car at the time of your arrest, you could be sentenced to six months in jail. You can also be sentenced to jail for the following OWI offenses

First OWI involving an accident causing serious bodily harm-30 days to one year

First OWI involving an accident causing death-3 to 12 years

Second OWI in ten years or prior OWI involving great bodily harm- 5 days to six months

An effective defense provided by one our accomplished criminal defense attorneys in Wisconsin will give you a greater chance of getting a lighter sentence or beating conviction altogether.

After your arrest or post-conviction, you could be housed at one of the following jail locations:

Milwaukee County Jail

949 N 9th St.,

Milwaukee, WI 53233


Milwaukee City Jail

951 N James Lovell St.,

Milwaukee, WI 53233

You Can Be Convicted of an OWI if Your Blood Alcohol Concentration is Below the Legal Limit

There is often this misconception that you cannot be convicted of an OWI if your BAC is below Wisconsin’s legal limit of 0.08 percent. To secure an OWI conviction, the state merely has to demonstrate that you were impaired at the time of your arrest. Proof such as an officer’s observations and eyewitness accounts are sufficient evidence in a Milwaukee court, and BAC or chemical test results are not always necessary.

Conviction Will Cost Thousands

The fines for a DUI conviction are just the beginning of the expenses you’ll be slammed with after your OWI conviction. After your driver’s license is restored, you need to get auto insurance at a much higher rate and submit an SR-22 form. You also have to pay the cost of restoring your driver’s license which adds up to be a few hundred dollars.

If you caused an accident while impaired, you could also be asked to pay personal injury or wrongful death compensation which can easily result in six-figure or million-dollar settlements.

You Might Lose Your Driver’s License

Very soon after your arrest, you will receive a notice from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation giving you a chance enter a plea. You must respond in a timely fashion, or the agency will suspend your license, and you won’t be allowed to drive for several months or more.

Hire an OWI Lawyer in Milwaukee

You can avoid the costs of an OWI and keep a conviction off your record by hiring an OWI lawyer in Milwaukee. will help you locate a local lawyer to meet with and talk about your case. Your first consultation is free and confidential.

If during your drunk or drugged driving arrest, an officer uses excessive force or you are wrongfully arrested, we recommend you speak to a police brutality lawyer near you in Wisconsin to see if you have a legitimate claim.