The real cost of a Wisconsin OWI arrest

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2019 | Firm News

There is no mandatory jail sentence for first-time operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or OWI, charges in Wisconsin. That does not mean, however, that the consequences of a drunk driving arrest are not costly. There are several financial penalties associated with OWI convictions, which can add up quickly and affect people’s financial stability in the present, as well as in the future.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the fine for first-time OWI offenses in the state is between $150 and $300. Additionally, those convicted of this violation must pay a surcharge of $435. The fines people may be ordered to pay for an OWI guilty plea or conviction may increase for extenuating circumstances, including having a child under the age of 16-years-old in the vehicle at the time of the arrest.

In cases when people’s blood alcohol concentration level is 0.15 or higher, they may be required to participate in a sobriety program, and to cover the associated expenses. They may also be ordered to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, which typically have an installation and monthly monitoring fees.

Motorists convicted of or who plead guilty to OWI are also subject to a revocation of their driving privileges. The period of revocation may be between six and nine months. This may lead to expenses, for example, including the costs of alternative transportation during their period of revocation. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, to reinstate revoked driver’s licenses, motorists must pay a reinstatement fee. Further, those seeking reinstatement of revoked driving privileges must file proof of financial responsibility for three years following their reinstatement with the Division of Motor Vehicles.