Third offense OWI carries significantly more severe penalties than first or second OWI. Unlike a second offense OWI in Wisconsin, there is no rule that your last offense had to occur within ten years. It includes prior OWI convictions throughout your life.

Potential penalties of conviction include, but are not limited to: license revocation, fine of up to $2,000, at least 45 days of confinement, and permanent subjection to a PAC (prohibited alcohol concentration) of .02 in any state.

Several factors may influence the specific penalties you face, including your specific blood alcohol content (BAC) and the presence of a minor passenger.

Read Also: Wisconsin OWI Penalties Chart

If you or someone you know is facing OWI charges in Wisconsin, contact Stangl Law to request a free consultation immediately.

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The Penalties of a 3rd OWI in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, an OWI is considered a 3rd offense if the driver has been convicted of two previous OWI offenses anytime throughout their life. While Wisconsin's laws dictate the minimum and maximum penalties of a third offense OWI conviction, it's ultimately up to a judge to determine a sentence within the legal range.

  • Jail time: 45 days to one year in jail if BAC is below 0.17. This range is doubled if BAC is .17 to .199. This range is tripled if BAC is .20 to .2499 and quadrupled if BAC is .25 or higher. Having a passenger under 16 in the car at the time of arrest doubles these ranges.

  • Fines: $600-$2,000 and a $435 driver improvement surcharge. If a passenger under 16 years old was in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, fines range from $1,200-$4,000 in plus surcharges.

  • Driver’s license suspension and revocation: Two to three years. If there was a passenger under the age of 16 in the car at the time of your arrest, your license could be revoked immediately for up to six years plus confinement length. 45 days after any conviction of a third offense OWI you may be eligible to apply for an occupational license. Before that, there is no eligibility for an occupational license.

  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID): Installation for one to three years if BAC is below 0.17. This doubles if BAC is .17 to .199, triples if BAC is .20 to .2499, and quadruples if BAC is .25 or higher.

Other Consequences of 3rd Offense OWI in Wisconsin

In addition to the legal penalties, there are a number of other consequences for those convicted of their 3rd 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 Third 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. 

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 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 for 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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Samuele Errico Piccarini