Operating While Intoxicated / BAC Penalties
A person is generally charged with an OWI and BAC ticket. While guilt can be found on both citations, penalties are imposed only on one of the citations. Upon conviction, these penalties and requirements are as follows:
- FINE. The fine amount on the OWI/BAC ticket includes a base fine, various costs, and a special assessment amount. The current general OWI fine is $731-$794. Depending upon special circumstances, this fine may be slightly lower or higher.
- REVOCATION. Wisconsin law requires a mandatory revocation of the convicted individual's driver's license. The first offense revocation period varies from between 6 to 9 months (12 to 18 months upon refusal conviction). An occupational driver's license is generally available immediately. Occupational licenses carry restrictions (60 hours of scheduled driving per week) and can only be used to get a person to and from work, obtain medical or child care, etc. Someone who drives outside of their restricted hours is subject to another set of severe penalties. In order to receive an occupational license, an individual must provide proof of financial responsibility. This is accomplished by having the insurance carrier fill out an SR-22 form. If the conviction notes a BAC in excess of .15, then an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is also ordered. (See IID section). Applications for occupational licenses are handled only at Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicle stations. After the revocation period is completed, a driver's license is not automatically reinstated. To reinstate, that individual must go to a Motor Vehicle driver testing station and reinstate his/her driver's license and privileges.
- ASSESSMENT. Wisconsin law requires that everyone convicted of first offense OWI or BAC must undergo an assessment of their alcohol/drug habits. Application for that assessment must be made within 72 hours of their conviction. If assessment determines that an individual needs some type of alcohol or drug abuse treatment, that program must be followed (generally, Group Dynamics). Failure to undergo the assessment or comply with the treatment recommendations will result in an indefinite revocation of a driver's license. Cost of assessment is the responsibility of the person convicted of OWI/BAC. Currently, the costs are approximately $205 for assessment and $230 for Group Dynamics. The assessment paperwork is available and must be signed upon conviction.
- POINTS. OWI/BAC offenses are assessed 6 points under Wisconsin 's point system.
- SENTENCING GUIDELINES. The Waukesha County Circuit Court has adopted sentencing guidelines for OWI/BAC cases. These guidelines require certain penalties based on various factors, including the blood alcohol test result and the degree of driving impairment. If there is a plea of guilty or no-contest, or there is a finding of guilt at trial, this Court will impose a penalty taking into account the Waukesha Circuit Court guidelines.
- REFUSAL. Pursuant to 2003 Wis. Act 199, amending Sections 343.305, 800.04 and 800.07 of the Wisconsin Statutes, effective for offenses committed on or after 8-01-04, municipal courts have authority to prosecute first offense refusals if the arrest for OWI was made for violation of a municipal ordinance and the municipality has a municipal court. Upon issuing a “Notice of Intent to Revoke” following a refusal to take a test, the officer must forward a copy of the Notice and the defendant’s license to the municipal court. A copy of the Notice must also be sent to the attorney for the municipality. If the defendant requests a hearing on the refusal issue within 10 days, the municipal court shall hold a hearing to determine if the refusal was proper. If the defendant makes a timely request for a refusal hearing and a timely request for a jury trial, the OWI citation and the refusal paperwork are both to be transferred to the circuit court. Under Wisconsin’s Implied Consent Law, when a person operates a motor vehicle on a roadway or other area open to the public, any person, subject to all constitutional safeguards, and upon arrest, is deemed to have given consent for a chemical analysis of their blood, breath or urine. Withholding such consent is deemed a refusal. Conviction on the refusal carries double penalties and IID requirement. In other words, already significant penalties are doubled if there is a conviction on the refusal. It is strongly suggested and recommended that anyone who finds themselves in that position should undergo the chemical test being offered.
- IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES (IID’S). Beginning 7-01-10, first offense OWI’s with blood alcohol concentrations of .15 or higher, and any and all refusals, require that an IID must be installed on every vehicle owned by the defendant, unless doing so would cause an undo financial hardship (usually multiple vehicles). The IID must be functional and operational for a minimum one year period. This one year period begins upon the defendant being issued an operator’s license. There is an additional IID surcharge ($50 payable to the county) added to the base forfeiture amount. Those who do not pay the surcharges or who fail to comply with the IID order cannot obtain an occupational or other operator’s license. Low income OWI offenders (at or below 150% of the federal poverty level) may be required to pay only one-half the IID installation monitoring and removal costs. Please note there is no funding from the state to cover the other half of these forgiven costs. Non-compliance or violation of any IID order results in a criminal charge. Removal, disconnection, tampering or circumvention of the IID will result in a substantial fine, jail up to six months, and potential extension of the IID order for an additional six months. A person subject to an IID order may not operate with a BAC greater than .02. If that person does have a BAC in excess of .02, he/she would be subject to an OWI charge.