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DUI Homicide in Wisconsin

By Carlos Gamino

In Wisconsin, it’s illegal to operate a vehicle while you’re intoxicated. Formally, the state can charge you with the crime of operating while intoxicated, or OWI. In other states (and in everyday conversation), that’s called driving under the influence, or DUI. When you’re operating a vehicle while intoxicated and someone dies as a result of your actions, you could end up being charged with homicide – and a conviction can mean prison time. Here’s what you need to know.

What Happens if You’re Charged With a DUI Homicide in Wisconsin?

You can be charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle if you’re involved in a fatal accident involving alcohol. If you were driving and caused an accident with a prohibited blood alcohol concentration at the time of the incident (it’s currently 0.08 unless you’re under the age of 21 or you have one or more previous OWI convictions) and someone dies as a result, you can expect to be charged.

The prosecutor will try to prove that you were under the influence by bringing in evidence such as your breath test, a blood or urine test, and evidence that the officer collected at the scene of the accident.

Related: What are your rights when you’re in police custody?

DUI homicide is a Class D felony. That means the criminal penalty is up to 15 years in prison and up to 10 years of extended supervision. The judge in your case may also order you to pay fines of up to $100,000.

However, if you have a previous alcohol-related conviction, you may be looking at a Class C felony. The penalty for a Class C felony is up to 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision (as well as fines of up to $100,000.)

What Should You Do if You’re Charged With DUI Homicide in Wisconsin?

If you’re charged with DUI homicide in Wisconsin, you may want to talk to a Wisconsin OWI attorney right away. We may be able to help you, so call us for a free DUI/OWI consultation – we’re at 414-383-6700. We’ll evaluate your case and give you the legal advice you need right now, and we can develop a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-09-19T14:23:03-05:00September 30th, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on DUI Homicide in Wisconsin

Is a Traffic Ticket a Criminal Offense in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

Most traffic tickets are not criminal offenses in Wisconsin, and the good news is that minor traffic offenses are generally treated differently than more serious violations of the law. However, some traffic offenses are crimes, so here’s what you need to know.

The Most Common Traffic Tickets in Wisconsin

Some of the most common traffic infractions in Wisconsin include:

  • Speeding
  • Rolling through a stop sign
  • Failing to use your blinker
  • Failing to yield to pedestrians
  • Operating a vehicle without proper lighting
  • Not wearing a seatbelt

For these civil traffic violations, police typically issue the driver a traffic ticket — a form the officer completes and gives to a motorist or pedestrian on the spot. Police officers generally give tickets after they observe or believe that a person has committed a traffic violation. Tickets contain information on how the driver can respond by mailing in the form and a check for the fine, paying the fine online, or challenging the ticket and appearing in court. 

What Are the Penalties for Traffic Tickets?

Wisconsin operates on a demerit system, which means if you get a certain number of points (in Wisconsin, it’s 12), the state can suspend your driving privileges.

That doesn’t mean you just rack up points, though. You generally have to pay a fine – and the fine depends on the severity of your offense. For example, if you’re driving 40 miles per hour in a 35-mile-per-hour zone, your fine will be lower than it would if you were driving 50 miles per hour in the same zone.

If your insurance company finds out that you’ve received a ticket, your insurance premiums may go up. (That doesn’t have anything to do with civil penalties, but it is something you should know about.)

What Traffic Tickets Are Criminal Offenses?

First things first: If you drive knowing your driver’s license is suspended, it’s a criminal offense.

Other criminal offenses related to driving include drunk driving and reckless driving, as well as:

If you’re accused of any of those crimes, you’ll have to go to court and plead guilty or not guilty. If you’re convicted, you may face criminal sentencing (including a trip to jail or prison). It’s probably in your best interest to work with a Wisconsin traffic defense attorney if your situation results in criminal charges.

Related: 3 things you need to know about vehicular homicide in Wisconsin

Traffic Trials vs. Criminal Trials

With most traffic violations, a fine is the worst that can happen; jail isn’t usually among the possible penalties, and license suspension is typically on the table only if the driver has multiple recent traffic convictions. However, drivers accused of committing a misdemeanor or felony criminal offense face the possibility of jail time.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About a Criminal Traffic Offense?

If you’ve been accused of a criminal traffic offense, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now for a free consultation with an experienced, knowledgeable defense attorney. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you get the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-08-08T14:25:11-05:00June 29th, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Is a Traffic Ticket a Criminal Offense in Wisconsin?

What Happens if You Leave the Scene of an Accident?

By Carlos Gamino

In Wisconsin, it can be a crime to leave the scene of an accident – and it can be so serious that you end up in prison over it. So what really happens when you leave the scene of an accident?

Will You Get in Trouble if You Leave the Scene of an Accident?

If you operate a motor vehicle and are involved in a crash, you’re legally obligated to stay put. That means stopping your car immediately (as soon as it’s reasonably safe) and not going anywhere else. With that said, you don’t have to come to a dead stop in the middle of a busy expressway. However, you do have to pull off to the side, where it’s safer, right away.

You can be charged with hit and run if you leave the scene of an accident – and that’s a serious crime.

Hit and Run Charges in Wisconsin

If you are involved in a car accident, you’re legally required to stop and exchange information (including your name, address and your car’s vehicle registration number) with the other party. If the other party requests it, you’re supposed to show your driver’s license, as well. If anyone is injured, you also have to provide “reasonable assistance,” which can include taking that person to get medical help or making arrangements for an ambulance.

The state can convict you of hit and run if you:

  • Knew you were in an accident
  • The accident resulted in damage to a vehicle or injury or death to a person
  • You did not immediately (or almost immediately) stop your vehicle and stay at the scene

What Are the Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident depend on the outcome of the accident. For example, if nobody was hurt, the penalty can be a 6-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. However, if someone dies and you flee the scene of an accident, you’re looking at a Class D felony – and that’s significant time in prison.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

If you’ve been accused of leaving the scene of an accident, we may be able to help you. Call us to schedule a free consultation – we’re available at 414-383-6700. We’ll ask you some questions about your situation and answer your questions, as well, and if we can work together, we’ll start developing a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T22:06:58-05:00May 2nd, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on What Happens if You Leave the Scene of an Accident?

Can You Challenge Field Sobriety Testing?

By Carlos Gamino

Field sobriety tests are extremely common during drunk driving stops. It’s not unusual for a police officer to say, “Could you step out of the car, please?” when he or she suspects a person of driving under the influence – but how accurate are field sobriety tests, and is it possible to challenge them in court?

Related: OWI vs. DUI in Wisconsin

Can You Challenge Field Sobriety Testing?

You and your attorney can absolutely challenge field sobriety testing. Your attorney may challenge based on your physical condition, age, weight or even your driving experience; he or she might also discuss the conditions on the roadside, the police officer’s experience in conducting these types of tests, and whether you were ill or wearing contact lenses at the time of your field sobriety test.

The bottom line is that these types of tests contain questionable methods – methods that may not tell a police officer whether you’re drunk or sober. For example, people pulled over for drunk driving may be asked to:

  • Stand on one foot while counting
  • Walk along an imaginary line
  • Touch one finger to the tip of their nose slowly
  • Recite the alphabet or count backward
  • Follow a pen or a light that a police officer holds in front of their face (this is called a nystagmus test)

How many of those things can you do under normal circumstances? How many of them can you do if you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure because you know that if you mess up, you’re going to jail – even if you haven’t had a drop to drink? The reality is that there are many reasons people struggle with each of these “tests.”

Related: First offense OWI in Wisconsin

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Challenging a Field Sobriety Test?

Many attorneys look for ways to challenge field sobriety tests because they don’t accurately predict how “drunk” a person is. If you were arrested for drinking and driving after taking a field sobriety test, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now – we will be happy to answer your questions about OWI charges and develop a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T09:24:39-05:00April 11th, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Can You Challenge Field Sobriety Testing?

Hit and Run in Wisconsin

By Carlos Gamino

When you’re in a car accident in Wisconsin, you’re supposed to stop, exchange information with the other driver, and in some cases, wait for police or other first responders to arrive. If you don’t, you could be charged with the crime of hit and run – and that’s a serious offense under Wisconsin law.

Hit and Run, Defined

The Wisconsin legal system allows a jury to convict you if you operated a vehicle involved in an accident and:

  • You knew you were involved in an accident
  • The accident resulted in damage to the other vehicle, or resulted in injury or death of another person involved
  • You did not immediately stop and remain at the scene (or close to the scene) to share information (such as your name, address and registration) to the other driver, or show your license upon request, or render aid to anyone injured in the accident

What is the Penalty for Hit and Run in Wisconsin?

If you’re convicted of hit and run, the penalties depend on the damage and injuries stemming from the accident. If nobody was hurt, you could still be looking at 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. However, if someone was injured or killed, the criminal penalties allowed under Wisconsin law are much steeper:

  • If someone was injured but didn’t suffer great bodily harm, you can go to jail for up to 9 months and pay fines of up to $10,000.
  • If someone is injured and suffered great bodily harm, it’s a Class E felony with up to 10 years in prison, up to 5 years in extended supervision, and fines of up to $50,000.
  • If someone was killed, it’s a Class D felony with up to 15 years in prison, up to 10 years in extended supervision, and fines of up to $100,000.

Related: Criminal driving and traffic violations

Do You Have to Stay if the Accident Wasn’t Your Fault?

If you’re involved in an accident that’s not your fault, stay. Do not leave. Even if the police aren’t coming, you still need to share information with the driver and render aid.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Hit and Run in Wisconsin?

If you’ve been accused of hit and run or leaving the scene of an accident, we may be able to help you. It’s a good idea to call our office at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation as soon as possible.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T22:15:41-05:00March 1st, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Hit and Run in Wisconsin

Common OWI Plea Bargains

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people, you know that a plea bargain is a deal with the prosecutor in a criminal case. In a plea bargain, the prosecutor offers a lesser charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence or an agreement to drop other charges. But can you use a plea bargain in an OWI case?

Can You Use a Plea Bargain in an OWI Case?

You can use a plea bargain in an OWI case in Wisconsin if the prosecutor agrees to it. Your attorney will most likely talk to the prosecutor about your case before you ever go to trial, which means they’ll have the opportunity to strike a bargain.

One type of plea deal that people use in Wisconsin after an OWI is referred to as “wet reckless.” Essentially, you’ll be agreeing that you drove recklessly while under the influence, which helps you avoid an OWI conviction and still gets the prosecutor a “win.”

That’s not to say that all prosecutors will think this type of deal is a good one – or that they’ll even agree to it. These types of plea deals are most common in cases where the person has no other convictions and their blood alcohol content wasn’t too far over the legal limit at the time of the offense.

Related: OWI vs. DUI in Wisconsin

Could a Wet Reckless Plea Deal Be the Right Choice for You?

The bottom line is that if a court convicts you of reckless driving, you’ll still face serious penalties. However, the penalties are not as harsh as they are for drunk driving – and that may make it a worthwhile choice in your situation. You should absolutely discuss the pros and cons of accepting a plea deal with your attorney, who can give you case-specific advice, tell you about possible outcomes, and answer all of your questions.

Do You Need to Talk to an OWI Attorney in Wisconsin?

If you’ve been charged with OWI, we may be able to help you – we defend our clients in a variety of ways, including seeking OWI plea bargains when appropriate. Call our office at 414-383-6700 to tell us about your case. We’ll answer all your questions and do what we can to get you the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T09:38:39-05:00February 22nd, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Common OWI Plea Bargains

Do I Need a Lawyer for a First-Time DUI/OWI?

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re facing drunk driving charges, there’s a good chance that you’re pretty concerned about the process ahead of you – and that’s totally normal. You may be wondering whether you need a lawyer for a first-time DUI or OWI charge in Wisconsin, what the possible penalties are, and whether your OWI will stay on your record forever. This guide explains.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a First-Time DUI/OWI in Wisconsin?

Any time you’re involved in the legal system, you’re entitled to legal counsel – it’s your right. Whether you choose to work with a lawyer is up to you, though. For most people, working with an attorney is incredibly important. A Wisconsin OWI attorney can explain the laws and the legal process, answer your questions and get you the best possible outcome in court.

Related: OWI dismissal information

Penalties for a First Time OWI in Wisconsin

If nobody is injured, you don’t wreck your vehicle or someone else’s property, and there are no other unusual circumstances in your first OWI case, the penalties are generally as follows:

  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 9 months
  • Fines up to $300
  • A $365 OWI surcharge
  • Possible ignition interlock device (IID), depending on your intoxication level at the time of the incident
  • Mandatory alcohol and drug assessment
  • Driver’s license reinstatement fee when you apply for a new license

Things change if there’s a minor under the age of 16 in the car with you at the time of the offense, or if you get into an accident, someone is injured or killed, or you damage other property. In cases like these, it doesn’t matter if it’s your first offense – you will pick up additional criminal charges or face additional criminal penalties.

Related: Will you go to jail for a second offense OWI in Wisconsin?

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About a First-Time DUI/OWI in Wisconsin?

If you’ve been accused of driving under the influence or operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, whether it’s your first offense or your fifth, we may be able to help you. There are defenses to OWI in Wisconsin. Call our office at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation. We can answer your questions, discuss possible outcomes and give you the case-specific legal advice you need right now.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T09:39:46-05:00February 17th, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Do I Need a Lawyer for a First-Time DUI/OWI?

Does an OWI Stay on Your Wisconsin Criminal Record Forever?

By Carlos Gamino

If the state of Wisconsin convicts you of operating while intoxicated, or OWI, will it stay on your criminal record forever? How will the record impact your future, and what happens if you get another OWI with one in your past? Here’s what you need to know.

How Long Does an OWI Stay on Your Record in Wisconsin?

An OWI stays on your record forever in the state of Wisconsin. It doesn’t “fall off” after a certain period of time has passed. In fact, any drunk driving offense you’ve picked up since 1989 builds up in your lifetime total, which can affect future sentencing.

Future Sentencing With an OWI in Your Past

A prior DUI can affect current or future OWI sentencing. The number of prior DUI offenses you have determines the penalty you’ll face. Check out the following table for more information.

ConvictionFine and Jail TimeDriving Consequences
First offense OWIFine: $150 to $300Revocation: 6 to 9 months
Causing injury while OWI with no prior OWI offense or chemical test refusalFine: $300 to $2,000 Jail time: 30 days to 1 yearRevocation: 1 to 2 years plus confinement length
Causing injury while OWIL with prior OWI offense or chemical test refusalFine: Up to $10,000
Jail time: Up to 6 years
Revocation: 1 to 2 years plus confinement length
Causing great bodily harm by OWIFine: Up to $25,000
Jail time: Up to 12.5 years
Revocation: 2 years plus confinement length
Homicide while OWI with no prior OWIFine: Up to $100,000
Jail time: Up to 25 years
Revocation: 5 years plus confinement length
Homicide while OWI with a prior OWI-related offenseFine: Up to $100,000
Jail time: Up to 40 years
Revocation: 5 years plus confinement length
Second offense OWI with no prior OWI within 10 years, and with no great bodily harm or homicide by intoxicated use during your lifeFine: $150 to $300Revocation: 6 to 9 months
Second offense OWI with prior OWI within 10 years, or an offense with great bodily harm or homicide by intoxicated use at any prior point during your lifeFine: $350 to $1,100 Jail time: 5 days to 6 monthsRevocation: 12 to 18 months plus confinement length
Third offense OWIFine: $600 to $1,200 Jail time: 45 days to 1 yearRevocation: 2 to 3 years plus confinement length
Fourth offense OWIFine: $600 to $10,000
Jail time: 60 days to 6 years
Revocation: 2 to 3 years plus confinement length
Fifth or sixth offense OWIFine: $600 to $25,000 Jail time: Up to 10 yearsRevocation: 2 to 3 years plus confinement length
Seventh, eighth or ninth offense OWIFine: Up to $25,000
Jail time: 3 to 12.5 years
Revocation: 2 to 3 years plus confinement length
Tenth offense OWIFine: Up to $50,000
Jail time: 4 to 15 years
Revocation: 2 to 3 years plus confinement length

What if You’re Accused of OWI?

If you’ve been arrested for operating while intoxicated, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to a caring, knowledgeable and experienced professional who can answer your questions and help you get the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T22:09:12-05:00January 3rd, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Does an OWI Stay on Your Wisconsin Criminal Record Forever?

Can You Get Out of an OWI in Wisconsin? 3 Ways to Get Your OWI Dismissed

By Carlos Gamino

If you’ve been arrested for operating while intoxicated, or OWI, you’ve probably wondered if there’s any way you can get out of it. In some cases, yes, it is possible to get an OWI dismissed. Here’s what you need to know.

Can You Get Out of an OWI in Wisconsin? 3 Ways to Get Your OWI Dismissed

First things first: There is no way to predict how a judge will rule. Any attorney who tells you he or she will “for sure” get your OWI dismissed isn’t being entirely honest with you. Sure, there are many circumstances in which it’s possible to have an OWI dismissed – but ultimately, it’s up to the legal system to make that decision, not your lawyer.

There are some ways that attorneys are able to get OWI cases dismissed in Wisconsin, however, including:

  • Challenging the results of a breath test
  • Proving that police stopped you illegally
  • Showing that the police did not have probable cause to administer a breath test

This isn’t a complete list. Your attorney will review your case and make a determination about the best possible defense based on your situation. However, here’s a closer look at the ways attorneys can sometimes get OWI cases dismissed.

Related: Will you go to jail for OWI, second offense in Wisconsin?

OWI Dismissal Situation #1: Challenging the Results of a Breath Test

Judges can dismiss an OWI case when an attorney can prove that the breath test was inaccurate. There’s a lot of science on why breath tests can come up wrong, whether they’re administered the wrong way, whether you are on a medication or have a medical condition that could affect the test results, or whether the device was improperly calibrated or inaccurate by nature.

OWI Dismissal Situation #2: Proving That Police Stopped You Illegally

The police must have a valid reason for stopping you while you’re driving. A law enforcement officer can stop you if you:

  • Violate a traffic law
  • Have an equipment violation (like a burned-out turn signal)
  • Are driving erratically

They can also stop you if your vehicle fits the description of a vehicle involved in a crime, or if you roll up to a traffic checkpoint.

If the police stop you illegally, your attorney may be able to get your case thrown out of court.

OWI Dismissal Situation #3: Showing That the Police Did Not Have Probable Cause to Administer a Breath Test

Police can’t just stop you for having a broken taillight or speeding and require you to take a breath test. Law enforcement officers must reasonably believe that you are intoxicated before requesting that you take a breath-alcohol test.

If the police stop you and you deny that you’ve been drinking, and you refuse to take a field sobriety test, the officer really doesn’t have anything to prove that you’re drunk (other than the way you were driving or the way you’re acting during your interaction. He or she might request that you take a breath test, and that may be completely valid – especially if the officer smells alcohol on your breath or watched you stumble out of a bar and into your car.

Pro tip: If you refuse to take a breath test, you do so at your own risk. You could lose your license for at least a year.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Get Out of an OWI in Wisconsin?

For most people, the best way to approach an OWI – and any other criminal case, for that matter – is to work with an experienced attorney. Attorneys are in and out of court every day, and they know what works according to the law (and what doesn’t).

If you’ve been arrested for OWI, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to a caring, knowledgeable and experienced professional who can point you in the right direction.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T09:55:47-05:00December 28th, 2020|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Can You Get Out of an OWI in Wisconsin? 3 Ways to Get Your OWI Dismissed

Getting an Occupational License After OWI in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know

By Carlos Gamino

The state of Wisconsin allows some people to get an occupational license after an OWI – but not everyone gets one. Here’s what you need to know.

What is an Occupational License in Wisconsin?

An occupational license is a restricted driver’s license that lets you drive to certain places at certain times when your driving privileges have been suspended or revoked. You can use an occupational license to drive to work, school, the doctor, the grocery store, church and other places that are necessary for you to go – but you have to ask the state for it.

Can You Get an Occupational License After an OWI in Wisconsin?

You may be able to get an occupational license after an OWI in Wisconsin. To do so, you have to file a petition with the Department of Motor Vehicles and pay a filing fee. You also have to submit proof that you have the appropriate type of insurance.

An occupational license is not guaranteed – the DMV can (and will) turn you down if you don’t meet the criteria or if your driving is a risk to others on Wisconsin roadways.

Related: What to know about OWI defenses

What is the Waiting Period for an Occupational License in Wisconsin?

Depending on the reason your driving privileges were suspended or revoked, you may have to wait before you can apply for an occupational license. For example, if you have a second or third (or subsequent) OWI, you have to wait at least 45 days after your conviction before you’re even eligible for an occupational license. You may have to wait longer; if the OWI involved bodily injury, great bodily harm or homicide, or if you refused a chemical test at the time of the offense, your waiting period will be different.

Do You Have to Be a Professional Driver to Get an Occupational License?

Despite the name, you do not have to be a professional driver to get an occupational license. You may be able to get this type of restricted license to go to any job, to take your kids to school (or to attend school yourself), to go to church or conduct “household business,” like going to the grocery store and paying bills.

How Much Can You Drive With an Occupational License?

You can drive up to 60 hours each week if you have an occupational license (but no more than 12 hours of driving time in one day). You’ll have to list where you’ll go – such as your work or school address – and provide times that you expect to be on the road when you fill out your application.

What if You’ve Been Arrested for OWI?

If you’ve been arrested for OWI in Wisconsin, it’s probably in your best interest to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. We may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to an experienced attorney.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T10:00:38-05:00December 7th, 2020|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Getting an Occupational License After OWI in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know