Wisconsin First-Offense OWI

The fines, jail, and license penalties resulting from a first-offense OWI/DUI in Wisconsin.

A motorist can be convicted of an OWI (operating while intoxicated) (also called “DUI” or “driving under the influence”) for operating a vehicle while:

  • under the influence of alcohol or drugs to a degree which renders him or her unable to drive safely
  • having any amount of restricted controlled substance in the blood, or
  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more.

A first-offense OWI conviction in Wisconsin generally results in a fine and driver’s license revocation. The exact penalties depend on a number of factors. But this article addresses the minimum and maximum penalties and other consequences for a first OWI in Wisconsin.

Criminal Penalties

An OWI is a first offense in Wisconsin if the driver has no prior OWI convictions that occurred within the past ten years. The judge will determine the exact fine and revocation duration within the following parameters.

Jail time. Generally, a first-offense OWI does not include jail time. However, for offenses involving a passenger under the age of 16 in the car, the driver will face five days to six months in jail.

Treatment. All first offenders will have to complete a substance abuse assessment. The results will be used to create a driver safety plan which may include treatment and OWI classes.

Fines. A person who’s convicted of a first OWI generally must pay a fine of $150 to $300. However, the minimum and maximum fines are doubled for drivers with a BAC of .17% to .199%, tripled for drivers with a BAC of .20% to .249, and quadrupled for drivers with a BAC of .25% or greater. And if the driver had a passenger under 16 in the vehicle, the fine is $350 to $1,100.

Driver’s License Revocation/Suspension

At the time of arrest, the officer will normally request that the driver provide a sample of blood, breath, or urine. A test sample that shows a prohibited BAC or drug content will result in a six-month license suspension. Refusing to test can lead to even more serious consequences.

After conviction, the judge will also order the driver’s license be revoked for six to nine months. This revocation runs concurrently (can overlap) with a test failure suspension. An offender who had a passenger under 16 years old will have their license revocation period doubled.

Restricted license. While the license revocation is mandatory, the judge can immediately order a hardship license—temporary restricted licensewhich allows the driver to operate a vehicle for work, school, or treatment purposes.

Ignition interlock device. If the driver’s BAC was .15% or greater, the judge will also order that the driver use an ignition interlock device (IID) for at least one year.

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