You can be charged with an OWI (operating while intoxicated) in Wisconsin for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while under the influence of (impaired by) drugs or alcohol. Most OWI convictions are misdemeanors. However, in certain circumstances, an OWI can be a felony.
Here are some of the circumstances that can result in felony OWI charges in Wisconsin.
Typically, a first, second, or third OWI conviction is a misdemeanor in Wisconsin. But when a driver has three or more prior convictions that occurred within the past 15 years, the next OWI (fourth or subsequent) will be a felony.
A fourth OWI is a class H felony and carries at least $600 in fines and a minimum 60 days in jail. A fifth or sixth OWI is a class G felony and carries at least $600 in fines and a minimum 18 months in jail.
A third OWI is normally a misdemeanor. But if a third OWI involving a minor passenger is a felony.
When an OWI offender causes serious injuries to another person, it's known as "injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle." Convicted motorists are looking at class F felony charges and up to 12 years and six months in jail.
Causing the death of another person while operating a vehicle under the influence is called "homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle." A conviction is generally a class D felony and normally carries at least five years in prison.