In Wisconsin, the term for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is OWI, which stands for Operating While Intoxicated. If you get a conviction for OWI, the penalties often vary depending on whether you have prior convictions. You may experience harsher penalties if you injure others on the roadway or damage property when driving under the influence.
The state also has different penalties for OWI that apply if you are underage or have a commercial driver’s license.
Standard OWI penalties
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, your first OWI offense could incur a fine up to $300 and a suspension of your license for up to nine months. You may also have to attend a sobriety program if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) during the incident was over a certain threshold. Even for a first-time offense, you could incur a higher fine and jail time if there was a minor under 16 years old in the car while you were driving under the influence.
Subsequent OWI offenses have penalties that include more substantial fines and jail time, which increase even further if you cause an injury while driving intoxicated. Refusing to take a chemical test may cause you to lose your license for up to 12 months.
OWI penalties for underage and commercial drivers
If you get an OWI conviction as a minor, the state’s Absolute Sobriety Law does not take BAC into account. Any OWI conviction may lead to a license suspension, demerit points, and a $200 fine.
The consequences for OWI in a commercial vehicle are severe. Even a first offense may cause you to lose your CDL for at least a year, and subsequent offenses may lead to a permanent disqualification of your CDL.