The penalties for second offense OWI can be significantly more severe than a first offense OWI. Unlike a first-offense OWI in Wisconsin, which is classified as a civil offense, a second-offense OWI is a criminal offense without exception.

These include, but are not limited to, possible jail time (up to 6 months), significant monetary fines of $350 to $1,100 plus surcharges, and mandatory driver’s license revocation for at least 12 months. Many factors can affect sentencing based on the circumstances of your situation.

Read Also: Wisconsin OWI Penalties Chart

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The Penalties of Second Offense OWI in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, generally if a person with no prior OWI within 10 years or a Great Bodily Harm or Homicide by Intoxicated Use offense commits a second OWI, the penalties are similar to a first offense OWI.

However, if the person has committed an OWI within the last 10 years or harmed someone while driving while intoxicated, the penalties tend to be more severe.

In cases like these, potential penalties of a second offense OWI conviction include:

  • Jail time: Five days to six months in jail. This range is doubled if a passenger under 16 was present in vehicle at the time of the offense.

  • Fines: A second offense OWI conviction generally carries a fine of $350 to $1,100. This minimum and maximum doubles with a BAC of .17% to .199%. It triples for a BAC of .20% to .249%. It quadruples for a BAC of .25% or higher.

  • Substance abuse treatment: All OWI convictions carry a mandatory substance abuse assessment from the approved facility within the county of residence within 72 hours of the conviction. A driver safety plan will be created based on the assessment results and may require the driver to complete treatment, OWI classes, or other rehabilitation programs.

  • Driver’s license suspension and revocation: If a blood, breath, or urine sample shows a prohibited BAC or drug content, the driver’s license will be suspended for six months. This time is increased for refusal to participate in BAC testing. If convicted of a second-offense OWI in court, the judge will also order the driver’s license be revoked for 12 to 18 months plus confinement length. This runs concurrently (overlaps) with the test failure suspension. The license revocation period will double if an offender had a passenger under 16 years old in the car at the time of the offense.

  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID): Upon reinstating the offender's driver's license or granting a hardship license after serving 45 days of the license suspension/revocation or reinstated license, the judge will order an ignition interlock device (IID) be installed and used for two to three years, plus confinement length. This can cost around  $1,000 for a year of service per vehicle, and must be installed on any vehicle titled or registered in your name.

Other Consequences of Second Offense OWI in Wisconsin

In addition to the legal penalties, there are a number of other consequences for those convicted of a 2nd OWI in Wisconsin. These include the cost of alcohol and drug assessment and the subsequent driver safety plan (which can cost over $1,000), hundreds of dollars for an occupational license and in reapplication fees, mandatory SR22 high-risk auto insurance costs, as well as higher life insurance and health insurance rates, time off work, impound fees, and more.

Taken together, these costs can total many thousands of dollars, making it critically important to retain an experienced attorney who can help you reduce your sentence or avoid conviction altogether.

What to do if You've Been Arrested and Charged with Second Offense OWI in Wisconsin

If you are facing second offense OWI, DWI, DUI, BAC or PAC charges in Wisconsin, you should contact a skilled criminal defense attorney to assist in your defense as soon as possible.

Attorney Patrick Stangl explains why you should never give up hope when fighting repeat DUI/OWI charges in Wisconsin:


Criminal Defense Lawyer Patrick J. Stangl has been aggressively fighting to protect the rights of drivers accused of OWI and other drunk driving charges for over 30 years. He remains committed to protecting the innocent against OWI charges in Madison, Eau Claire, Hayward and across Wisconsin.

Attorney Stangl’s philosophy regarding OWI defense is that, unless the State offers a plea agreement significantly better than the risk of losing in trial, there is no reason to plead guilty. Because Attorney Stangl believes that—unlike many other charges in State Court—victims of drunk driving (OWI, DUI, DWI, BAC, PAC) charges have little incentive to plead guilty, he prepares all drunk driving cases for trial.

This approach differs greatly from the vast majority of criminal defense attorneys who assume they cannot win your case and plead guilty. If you’re facing criminal or traffic charges in Wisconsin, schedule a free consultation with us from the Contact Us page right away.

Attorney Stangl has undergone the same NHTSA-sponsored field sobriety test training as law enforcement—something very few OWI attorneys can legitimately claim. This training gives Attorney Stangl unique insight into how these tests are designed, where their weaknesses lie, and where law enforcement often makes mistakes when administering them. Attorney Stangl regularly leverages this expertise to uncover opportunities for defense for his clients and work toward successful outcomes.

Four Consecutive Jury Victories

For the fourth time in a a row, a jury has refused to convict Attorney Stangl's client of Operating While Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (OWI). A St. Croix county jury sitting in Hudson, Wisconsin has found Attorney Stangl's client not guilty of OWI. His client was also charged with Operating With a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC). The above the legal limit or Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration charge (PAC) was dismissed by the trial court after the conclusion of the State's evidence on Attorney Stangl's motion.

The court agreed there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction on the PAC charge because the State failed to produce expert testimony establishing the relevance of the blood test result given the fact it had not proven the time of the alleged operating/driving of the of his client's vehicle. The State's blood test evidence indicated the client's blood alcohol concentration was 3.5 times the legal limit. The jury was then left to decide the criminal OWI charge. After deliberating approximately an hour and 15 minutes, the jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict.

This case represents the fourth time in a row that Attorney Stangl's clients were cleared of both OWI and PAC charges, a total of 8 charges, in four consecutive jury trials.

Free 10-Minute Consultation

If you need a Wisconsin OWI lawyer who is committed to fighting for you, request a free 10-minute consultation to discuss your case and explore options for your defense.

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Photo Credit: Vladimir Proskurovskiy