Wisconsin Harshens Law on Repeat OWI Offenders

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on January 11, 2017 in Car Accidents
Updated on April 25, 2024

impaired driverA new Wisconsin operating while intoxicated (OWI) law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017 that enforces stronger penalties on repeat OWI offenders, regardless of when the crime was committed.

In April 2016, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 455, which made a fourth OWI conviction a felony in an effort to deter people from driving after consuming an amount of alcohol that surpasses the legal limit.

The law also increased the penalties for repeat offenders by requiring longer prison sentences for those who have been convicted of a felony OWI.

Offenders who have been convicted of a fifth or sixth OWI now face five years in prison, instead of three. Those who have been charged with a seventh or eighth OWI could possibly spend seven and a half years in prison, as opposed to the previous five years. Anyone who has been convicted of ten OWI’s or more will face a prison sentence of seven and a half to ten years.

Wisconsin is currently the only state that does not treat a first OWI charge as a criminal offense. The state’s current law regards a first offense as a civil crime that results in a forfeiture.

Drunk driving has been a consistent problem in Wisconsin, as the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) has tracked more than 4,000 alcohol-related crashes every year since 2012. In 2015, there were 85 traffic fatalities attributed to drivers who had consumed drugs or alcohol prior to the accident, according to WisDOT.

A 2016 AAA survey showed that 40 percent of Wisconsin drivers have admitted to operating a vehicle within two hours of consuming alcohol.

AAA’s survey also revealed that most Wisconsin residents largely disapprove of driving under the influence of alcohol and that 38 percent believe the state has been too lenient toward those who have been convicted of OWI.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be a reckless act that puts the lives of motorists and pedestrians in danger. Our experienced car accident attorneys can help you to receive compensation and ensure accountability after being injured or losing a loved one in an OWI crash. Clients are never charged any upfront legal fees and will not have to pay unless he or she is awarded damages or a fair outcome in their case.

Call 414-333-3333 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation if you were injured by a drunk driver.

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