By: Andrew Martinez
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Do I Really Need an Attorney for My OWI Charges?
An OWI conviction can result in fines, jail time, license suspension, and other life-altering consequences. While it may seem more convenient or less consequential to challenge an OWI accusation, the costs of an OWI conviction will last longer than your court ordered penalties suggest.
Fortunately, these consequences are preventable with the help of a skilled OWI defense attorney. While you are not required to hire a professional attorney, choosing to represent yourself or relying on a generic public defender could result in permanent scars on your criminal record.
Wisconsin OWI Penalties
Without the help of an experienced lawyer advocating for your rights, you may be subject to the following penalties if you receive an OWI conviction:
First time OWI offenses: $150 – $300 in fines, license suspension for 6 – 9 months
Second time OWI offenses: $300 – $1100 in fines, 5 days to 6 months in jail, license suspension for 12 – 18 months.
Third time OWI offenses: Up to $2000 in fines, up to 12 months in jail, license revocation
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could also be subject to an Aggravated OWI charge. Penalties for these charges are higher, and it is the responsibility of your legal counsel to help you get your charges reduced or dismissed.
The True Costs of an OWI Conviction
OWI convictions can be expensive, and court ordered fines are just the beginning. Luckily, these unforeseen consequences are avoidable if you have an experienced OWI defense attorney advocating on your behalf.
OWI convictions stay on your driving record permanently, which can have a significant negative impact on your insurance rate. Insurance companies calculate rates based on the risk factors of the driver. An OWI on your record is considered a high risk factor, so you may be subject to higher monthly fees. The variable timeframe of license suspensions can further inconvenience you by causing you to rely on others or public transit for transportation.
In addition, time spent traveling back and forth to court dates, jail time, and other legal obligations may also require you to take time off work, potentially impacting your financial status prior to a conviction.
Employment and housing opportunities may also be limited by an OWI conviction. Many employers conduct criminal background checks during the hiring process and include past convictions in their evaluation of your job candidacy. The housing application process works similarly, and you may find yourself without stable housing because of an OWI in your background. When constructing your OWI defense, your income and housing are always at stake.
You may be denied entry to other countries without proper permissions if you have an OWI conviction. Traveling to Canada after an OWI conviction requires either a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation documentation. TRPs apply to individuals crossing the border for a specific reason and short duration (immigration officers have discretion here), and leisure and other travel by way of Criminal Rehabilitation only applies to offenders who have completed their full sentencing at least 60 months beforehand.
Protect Your Future: Contact a Skilled OWI Defense Attorney
When your driving record, employment, housing, and freedoms are on the line, your best course of action is to consult an attorney with a demonstrated history of success defending OWI cases. Attorneys at Martinez & Ruby, LLP, are leaders in Wisconsin OWI defense. To schedule a free consultation, contact our team at (608) 975-3913 or contact us online.