On behalf of Chris Van Wagner of Christopher T. Van Wagner S.C. Criminal Defense on Sunday, August 19, 2018.

Wisconsin lawmakers have passed a law that will result in the permanent revocation of a driver’s license after a fourth operating while intoxicated (OWI) offense. This is a significant change from previous law.

In the past, the Department of Transportation could revoke driving privileges for a period ranging from several months to several years. The previous law also allowed for an occupational license while driving privileges were revoked. An occupational license basically lets a person drive with certain limitations.

Not anymore. Without a strong defense against OWI charges, drivers can face a permanent revocation of driver’s privileges.

Wisconsin’s new OWI law: Details and penalties for a violation

The new law requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to permanently revoke an individual’s driver’s license in these two situations:

  • Fourth offense. The new law requires the DOT to revoke the operating privileges after four or more OWI offenses.
  • Two OWIs plus two “qualifying convictions.” The new law also requires the DOT to revoke driving privileges if a driver has two OWIs and two “qualifying convictions.” The law defines these convictions to include homicides that result from the use of a motor vehicle and certain felonies related to the use of a motor vehicle.

The law also removes the ability to apply for an occupational license. The driver must wait for ten years to apply for reinstatement of driving privileges. To receive approval, the applicant must be free of any motor vehicle related felony or misdemeanor convictions during the ten-year period and submit and comply with an assessment to examine for alcohol and controlled substance use. The law also requires development of a driver safety plan before reinstating driving privileges.

Drivers that violate this restriction and operate a vehicle while their privileges are revoked face serious penalties. A first violation can come with a fine of $2,500 and up to one-year imprisonment, a second violation can result in a $10,000 fine and one year of jail time.