Updated on February 3rd, 2021 at 10:49 pm

Gavel, Alcoholic Drink & Car Keys on a Gradating to White Background - Drinking and Driving attorney

Wisconsin lawmakers passed a bill to increase the penalties for repeat drunk driving offenders and to align the penalties to those of our neighboring states. Senate Bill 455, now Act 371, changes penalties for convictions of a fourth or subsequent driving under the influence of an intoxicant or other drug (OWI) charge.

Changes to a Fourth-Offense OWI Charge

Preceding enactment of the bill, a fourth offense OWI is a misdemeanor charge unless the previous OWI charge occurred within five years.  In this case, the charge is a fine of $600 to $2,000, 60 day to 12-month imprisonment, or both.  If both charges are within the five-year timeline, it is then considered a Class H felony.  The charge as a felony is $600 to $10,000 monetary fine, 6 month to 6-year imprisonment, or both.

Once the new law takes effect, there will not be any differentiation between fourth-offense OWI’s.  Any fourth-offense OWI will be charged as a Class H Felony with a penalty of a monetary fine in the amount of $600 to $10,000, imprisonment of 60 days to 6 years, or both.

Fifth or Sixth Offense OWI Charges

A fifth or sixth OWI charge is currently a Class H felony.  Penalties include a minimum monetary fine of $600, minimum six-month imprisonment, or both, and a maximum monetary fine of $10,000, maximum six-year imprisonment, or both.

Under the new law, both a fifth and a sixth offense OWI is classified as a Class G felony, punishable by a fine of $600 to $25,000, imprisonment of six months to ten years, or both.

Seventh, Eighth or Ninth Offense OWI Charge

Under the current law, a seventh through ninth offense OWI charge is a Class G felony which carries a prison term of 3 to 10 years, a fine of up to $25,000, or both.

Under the new law, seventh through ninth offense OWI charges will be a Class F felony, which comprises a 3 to 12 ½ year imprisonment, fine of up to $25,000, or both.

Tenth or Subsequent OWI and OWI Causing Injury

A tenth or subsequent OWI charge is currently a Class F felony with a penalty of a fine up to $25,000, imprisonment of 4 to 12 ½ years, or both.    Under the new law, tenth or subsequent OWI offense is classified as a Class E felony, punishable by a fine of up to $50,000, imprisonment of 4 to 15 years, or both.

Hire Attorneys Who Keep Current on Wisconsin OWI Laws

The Act takes effect on January 1, 2017 and applies to violations committed or refusals occurring on or after that date.  Additionally, these are the standard guidelines and factors such as having a minor present in your vehicle can substantially increase the fines and prison sentences for all OWI offenses.  Wisconsin DUI Penalties are complicated and subject to change. Attorneys Nathan J. Dineen and Daniel R. Skarie keep current on the OWI laws in Wisconsin.  Contact us at 877-384-6800 for a Free Case Review.