Drunken drivers cause about one-third of fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. For that reason, police in Wisconsin work hard to take drunk drivers off the road. If you have been drinking, you need to stay off the streets, or you could be stopped and arrested and learn firsthand the legal and administrative penalties of an OWI arrest in Wisconsin.

Drunk Driving Charges in Madison

In Wisconsin, you can be charged with Operating While Intoxicated for the following:

Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher

Driving under the influence of any intoxicant including alcohol, legally prescribed medications, illegal drugs or controlled substances or over-the-counter drugs that impair your abilities

Driving with a detectable amount of a controlled substance in your system

Driving under the influence of any drug

Will I Spend Time in Jail?

If an officer in Madison decides you are impaired, they will place you under arrest, and you’ll be taken to a local jail. How long you spend in jail for your OWI arrest depends on several factors including your BAC, if you had a minor in your vehicle or if you caused an injurious or deadly accident.

Arrested for Your First Offense

To get out of jail after a first-offense OWI won’t require you to post bond. Usually, you won’t be held longer than it takes to complete the booking process, but someone will need to pick you up.

On top of spending a few hours behind bars, your car is going to be impounded and you’ll need to pay all applicable fees before you can get it out of impound.

Arrested for a Second, Third of More

If you arrested for a second, third or fourth OWI, you will be asked to post bail to secure your release from jail before your arraignment. You will have to enlist someone on the outside to post bond for you, such as a family member or drunk driving lawyer.

Each county has their own bail schedule, so you will have to check with Dane County jail to determine your bail amount. You bail amount can be as little as a few hundred dollars up to $50,000 depending on the facts of your case. For instance, a person charged with a simple OWI may only have to pay a $500 bail. An OWI involving additional charges like vehicular assault or homicide or other felony enhancements will have a higher bail amount.

When you are unable to pay your bail, you need to contact a bail bonds person. A bond guarantor pays your entire bail amount, and you give a percentage down, anywhere between 10 percent and 25 percent. You may also be asked to put down collateral such a car if your bond amount is really high.

To locate an inmate in Dane County, you must call the Sheriff’s Office at (608) 284-6100

Dane County Sheriff

115 W Doty St.,

Madison, WI 53703


Will I Lose My Driver’s License?

When you are released from jail, you will be given a document explaining that you have ten days to file documents with the Department of Transportation or the court. Failing to make that deadline will result in the automatic suspension of your driver’s license.

You may be eligible for limited driving privileges if facing your first OWI.

Why Should I Hire an OWI Lawyer?

Many individuals facing an impaired driving charge ask: Why should I hire an OWI lawyer in Madison? There are lots of reasons to get legal counsel. The penalties for an OWI conviction should be enough, but there is so much more to deal with if you don’t fight your charges. An OWI will leave a mark on your record which is visible on background checks which most employers conduct. An OWI conviction will cost your reputation, acceptance to a good college

OWI Penalties in Madison

First OWI

Jail: None

Fines: $150 to $300

Driver’s License: Revocation six to nine months

Ignition Interlock Device: Possible


Second OWI

Jail: None

Fines: $150 to $300

Driver’s License: Revocation six to nine months

Ignition Interlock Device: If BAC exceeds 0.15 percent

Other Penalties: Must remain completely sober


Third OWI

Jail: 45 days up to one year

Fines: $600 to $2,000

Driver’s License: Revocation two to three years

Ignition Interlock Device: One year to three years

Other Penalties: Must remain completely sober


Felony OWI– Homicide

Jail: Up to 25 years

Fines: Up to $100,000

Driver’s License: Revocation for five years beyond incarceration period

Ignition Interlock Device: One to five years beyond incarceration

The fines listed above just scratch the surface of the costs associated with a conviction. As your case winds through court, you will accumulate administrative costs related to your driver’s license, court costs, legal fees, probation and exorbitant insurance premiums. When all the major expenses and incidentals as added up, your OWI will cost several thousand or more.

Remember, the penalties listed above also apply to drugged driving charges and you could face additional charges for possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia. If you are facing a drug charge, let USAttorneys connect you with an OWI and criminal defense lawyer in Madison.

An OWI attorney can be an indispensable asset to your case and help you with the legal and administrative aspects of your charge including:

Getting you out of jail

Restoring temporary driving privileges

Building a defense by obtaining police reports and ensuring the integrity of your arrest and chemical test results

Negotiating for a plea bargain

USAttorneys.com can connect you with the right attorney for your needs whether you need an OWI defense, need to speak with an immigration lawyer because you are worried about your status, or want to consult with police brutality attorney because you believe you were wrongfully arrested. We have a team of excellent attorneys in Madison, who have the knowledge and experience to help with a range of legal issues.