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