OWI is an acronym for “Operating While Intoxicated” and is the more general term used in Wisconsin, “drunk driving” offense. The terms OWI, DUI, DWI, BAC, and PAC are synonymous and also refer to motor vehicle activities under the influence of a “controlled substance” or “toxicant.”

The OWI law of Wisconsin doesn’t quite generalize all cases of drunk driving into one large set of penalties. Although you may first equate repetitive drunk driving offenses with additional or more serious punishments there are actually a wide range of situations that could cause more trouble to someone charged with OWI.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

In Wisconsin, the BAC limit at which no other proof is required to show that the driver has been intoxicated for an OWI conviction is 0.08%. That’s the height of the BAC “per se.” This is known in Wisconsin as a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration (PAC). When you receive an OWI, you are likely to receive a second citation for a PAC. You can still get a BAC OWI under.08 BAC if the prosecution can prove how badly you have performed sobriety tests in the field, such as standing on one leg or watching an item with your face.

There is also a “zero tolerance law for anyone under the age of 21 in Wisconsin. The BAC limit for a minor driver is 0.02 percent. Drinking and driving while you are underage, even if you feel sober, will get you an OWI.

OWI: Misdemeanor or Felony?

You may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony while facing a drunk driving charge in Wisconsin.
A first OWI offense is not classified to be a state misdemeanor. Alternatively, OWIs are considered civil offences for the first offense. Serious penalties and fines are still involved, but at first you are not charged with a misdemeanor.

Both a second OWI and the third OWI offense are marked as a misdemeanor. State authorities assume that motorists should be penalized more harshly in these repeated offenses of driving a vehicle while being intoxicated, and their acts comprise a misdemeanor The fourth OWI offense and all subsequent OWIs shall be deemed to be felonies and subject to more harsh penalties. On April 25, 2016, this distinction came into effect. Previously, only if a fourth OWI happened within five years of the driver’s third OWI was considered a felony. There is now no timeline in which a fourth OWI is not considered a felony.


While there is no replacement for a consultation on the specific details of your case with a professional attorney, it can be helpful to gain a better understanding of possible defense techniques if you have been charged with operating under the influence of an intoxicant in Wisconsin.

Implied consent in Wisconsin

The implied consent statute of Wisconsin requires OWI drivers to provide a sample of breath, blood, or urine. You face compulsory penalties if you decline and the State meets the burden of proof. Law enforcement is required to inform you of all the refusal penalties you face. Whether they fail or do so improperly, you may have defenses against the charge of rejection.

Miranda Rights

When adequate warnings have not been given at the appropriate times, incriminating statements may be removed.

There are several other methods to defend against the OWI charges. Defending OWI charge in Wisconsin can be a complex procedure that varies from case to case. To make sure you’re getting the best defense for your case, contact our expert defense attorney specializing in OWI defense.

CategoryLegal Advice
  1. February 20, 2020

    Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂

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