Jail time or imprisonment is one of the biggest concerns among those charged with drunk driving in Wisconsin. This article explains the potential penalties you might receive if you're convicted of OWI in Wisconsin.

In addition to gaining a better understanding of possible imprisonment terms you might face for DUI in Wisconsin, you'll also learn about other potential penalties including fines, license suspension and ignition interlock device requirements.

Finally, you will learn important information on how you might avoid jail time for drunk driving in Wisconsin.

To learn more about defending an OWI case in Madison or elsewhere across the state, read the popular article, "15 Ways to Beat A Drunk Driving Case in Wisconsin" by OWI Attorney Pat Stangl of Stangl Law Offices, S.C.

If it’s your first OWI in Wisconsin, you probably won't go to prison.

Wisconsin is the only state in the United States for which first offense OWI is not a criminal offense, which means unless there’s exceptions to your case (explained below), you likely won’t face any jail time.

Read the article, "Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws and CDL" by Stangl Law to learn more about possible penalties for professional drivers across the state.

What exceptions can bring jail time for first offense OWI in Wisconsin?

If there was a minor under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of your traffic stop, or if someone is hurt or killed as a result of your actions, you may be charged with more severe criminal offenses and might face jail time.

Otherwise, first offense OWI in Wisconsin does not carry jail time.

If it’s your second OWI offense or higher, jail time is mandatory if you’re convicted.

After your first OWI offense, subsequent offenses within Wisconsin’s 10-year Lookback Period do bring jail time and even prison sentences, as well as fines and other potential penalties.

2nd Offense OWI penalties in Wisconsin

  • Jail time: Yes - 5 days to 6 months
  • Fines: $300 to $1,100
  • License Suspension: 12 to 18 months
  • Ignition interlock device required.

3rd Offense OWI penalties in Wisconsin

  • Jail time: Yes - 30 days to 1 year
  • Fines: $600 to $2,000
  • License Suspension: 2 to 3 years
  • Ignition interlock device required.

4th Offense OWI penalties in Wisconsin (now a felony with Senate Bill 455)

  • Jail time: Yes - No less then 60 days
  • Fines: Yes - No less than $600
  • License Suspension: lifetime revocation
  • Ignition interlock device required.

After your second conviction, all vehicles that have your name on the title or registration may be subject to immobilization or Ignition Interlock Device.

If you're facing drunk driving charges or other OWI charges in Wisconsin, contact an experienced Wisconsin DUI attorney with a proven record of success.

To learn more about penalties for other repeat OWI charges in Wisconsin, read these articles from Stangl Law:

What you can to do to prevent jail time

If you’re facing penalties that include jail time or imprisonment, it’s critically important to contact an experienced Wisconsin OWI attorney as soon as possible to review your case and present you with your best options moving forward.

Skilled OWI attorneys know Wisconsin’s statutes inside and out and have helped people in your position craft successful defense strategies that keep them out of jail.

In practice since 1991, Wisconsin Attorney Pat Stangl has a track record of success in reducing and dismissing OWI offenses. Contact Attorney Patrick Stangl for a free consultation today.

OWI Defense Success Story

Case Victory: Three Consecutive OWI/PAC 5th/6th Victories in One Month

Attorney Stangl of Stangl Law Offices, S.C. achieved three (3) back-to-back OWI 5th/6th victories within a one-month period in May-June 2023 thereby saving his clients from mandatory prison sentences. In State v. Shirikian, 2023 WI App. 13 the Court of Appeals held that the sentencing language for a 5th/6th OWI/PAC offense requires the sentencing court to impose a mandatory prison sentence upon conviction. Even if the sentencing court wanted to impose a non-prison sentence, they do not have the discretion or authority to do so under the current penalty structure for the offense and this decision.

In the first case Attorney Stangl successfully argued that one of his client’s prior convictions could not be counted because he was not properly advised of his right to counsel in a previous case and that the record did not demonstrate a free and voluntary waiver of his 6th amendment right to counsel. After investigating and researching the issue, Attorney Stangl brought a motion challenging the uncounseled conviction and after an evidentiary hearing the trial court agreed that the prior conviction could not be counted, thereby reducing the 5th/6th offense to non-mandatory prison charges.

Approximately 2 weeks later, in a different case, Attorney Stangl previously argued to the court that the arresting officer did not have a sufficient legal reason or probable cause to arrest his client on a 5th/6th OWI/PAC. After the evidentiary hearing and briefing by the parties the court issued a very thorough and analytical oral decision granting the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss and the case against his client was dismissed.

Within two weeks after the 2nd consecutive OWI/PAC 5th/6th victory Attorney Stangl secured his 3rd consecutive OWI/PAC 5th/6th victory within (1) one month with the dismissal by the State of charges during a preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing it was clear that the arresting officer testified falsely about the alleged events including his client’s performance on the field sobriety test (FST’s) when in fact his client never submitted to the FST’s. Once the State realized the major problem with the officer’s perjured testimony it moved for immediate dismissal of all the charges. His client will not be re-charged.

FREE Consultation with Madison OWI Attorney Pat Stangl

If you've been arrested for operating under the influence of an intoxicant in Wisconsin or are facing other charges related to drunk or drugged driving in the state, Attorney Pat Stangl will extend to you a FREE 10-minute consultation at no obligation to discuss the details of your case and explore options for your defense. Click below to get started.

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