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The first thing that you should know about DUI laws in Wisconsin is that you cannot get a felony DUI charge. Even for your tenth DUI, should you accumulate so many, you will get a misdemeanor. While other states have felony DUI laws, Wisconsin has yet to pass such a law.
However, that is not to say that the laws on the books are not strict. Wisconsin laws actually run all the way out in a tiered system to your fifth or sixth offense, whereas other states often only have written laws going up to a third offense. Though technically not felony charges, these are laws that you have to take seriously.
For a first offense in Wisconsin, you will never get any jail time. You will, however, have to pay fines and fees that range from $150 to $300. You will not have to use an ignition interlock system. Your license will be suspended, though, for anywhere between six and nine months.
For your second offense, you may see jail time of anywhere from just five days to a full six months. Your fines will also be higher, ranging from $300 to $1,100. The license suspension will be increased so that you lose your license for 12 to 18 months. At this point, you will also be instructed to use an ignition interlock system —- as you will be for any subsequent charges.
A third offense will put you behind bars for at least 30 days, or for as much as one year. Your fines will be from $600 to $2,000. The license suspension will be anywhere between two years and three years, depending on what the judge determines.
If you get to a fourth offense, things begin to get serious. You could go to jail for two months (60 days) or even a full year. You will be made to pay fines of a minimum of $600 and a maximum of $2,000. Once again, the license suspension will be between two and three years.
Wisconsin law lumps the fifth and sixth offenses together. Your jail time could start at six months, but it could also be all the way up to six years. Your fines may be as little as $600, but you may also be asked to pay as much as $10,000. You do have to use the ignition interlock device, and you will lose your driver's license for between two and three years.
Before addressing any of the punishments listed above, officers will have to determine if you are over the legal limit. This is not a no tolerance state, so even underage drivers can blow a small amount, with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.02 putting them over the limit. For drivers who are of a legal drinking age, the BAC jumps —- as it does in all other states —- to 0.08. If you are a commercial driver, though, you cannot drive with a BAC that is at or over 0.04.
Finally, you can decide that you do not want to take a breath test, under Wisconsin law, but there is a penalty for doing so. As long as the instances are within ten years of each other, you simply get a one-year license suspension for every refusal. That means that your license is taken away for a single year the first time, two years the second time, and three years the third time.
If you are facing potential DUI charges, make sure that you know what rights you have and what legal options are at your disposal.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified drunk driving lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local drunk driving attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.