Maybe you or a loved one has been arrested for OWI in Wisconsin for the first time, and you’re trying to decide between representing yourself, using a public defender, or hiring a private lawyer.

Is getting your own attorney worth the money? The short answer is yes in nearly every situation.

While you don’t need a lawyer for a first offense OWI, there are several reasons why hiring an experienced OWI attorney could help you better understand your situation, get a reduced sentence, or even, in some cases, help save your license.

Read on to learn how.

Read Also: The Consequences of Your First OWI in Wisconsin

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How an Experienced Attorney Can Help You with a First Offense OWI

Hiring an experienced lawyer can give you an edge. It ensures that your representative gives your case mindshare, understands your options, and can help you choose the best course of action based on your unique situation.

1. Talking to a Defense Attorney Will Help You Understand Your Case and The Consequences of Conviction

An experienced OWI lawyer can help you determine the best course of action for your defense. They have likely worked on similar cases, are familiar with local prosecutors, and have a better idea of what options are available to you. In addition, many offer free consultations which could help you decide whether it makes sense to hire a lawyer to represent your case.

2. An Attorney Will Give Your Case the Personal Attention it Deserves

Chances are, your case isn’t the only one a public defender will be handling, and you don’t get to choose who will defend you. Moreover, the public defender will not defend you in the DMV proceedings—only in the criminal court.

Often, a public defender will try to get you a plea bargain, which tends to deliver a lighter sentence. However, depending on the circumstances of your arrest, this may not be your best option. For example, if the officer who arrested you made a procedural mistake, your representative might be able to get your charges dismissed. If you hire a private attorney, they will represent you in both your DMV proceedings and in criminal court, and you can benefit from their expertise and potentially build a more powerful and compelling case.

3. With an Attorney's Help, You May Be Able to Reduce Your Penalties or Have Your Case Dismissed Entirely

If you know that you’re innocent or your case might involve complicating factors such as the ones listed below, you will definitely want to consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Circumstances that could help reduce your sentence:
  • The results of a field sobriety test
  • BAC at the time of arrest
  • Questionable accuracy of BAC results
  • An officer’s procedural errors at the time of your arrest
Circumstances that might increase your penalties:
  • Extremely high BAC
  • An accident that caused an injury
  • The presence of a minor in the car at the time of arrest
  • Prior offenses

Depending on factors such as these, you may not want to plead guilty to your charges. An experienced lawyer will be able to determine whether one of these factors could turn your offense into a felony, or be the key to getting a reduced sentence.

In addition, if you have a lawyer present at your first DMV hearing, you stand a better chance of preventing your license from being suspended.

Read Also: 5 Ways You Might Incur Extra Penalties For OWI-Related Incidents

Request a FREE Wisconsin OWI Defense Consultation


After decades of proven experience in legal defense, Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney Patrick J. Stangl understands the first step to building a strong defense is to get in touch with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Attorney Pat Stangl has been fighting to defend clients' rights across the state since 1991 and is happy to offer you, at no obligation, a FREE 10-minute consultation to discuss your legal concerns and offer vital insight based on his decades of legal experience. Click the link below to get started right away.

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