Being charged with a crime is a serious matter that can come with long-lasting consequences for both an individual and his or her family, including jail time, hefty fines, job loss, and potentially immigration problems for non-citizens. Once a person is convicted, it is very difficult to undo the decision or remove it from his or her criminal record. If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), or another criminal offense, enlist the help of our experienced criminal defense lawyers. We understand the intricacies of the criminal justice system, the various ways to mount an aggressive defense, and the available alternatives to prosecution and conviction.DUI & OWI Laws
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one of the most commonly prosecuted crimes in states and jurisdictions across the country. Laws generally prohibit drivers from getting behind the wheel while impaired. Impairment is typically measured by a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading, often conducted by breathalyzer or other breath sample device. A BAC reading of .08 or more is considered proof that a driver is unlawfully intoxicated. Many states, including Illinois, refer to the crime as DUI, while others like Wisconsin call it OWI. Despite the different terms, the laws in many states are largely comparable.
In addition to jail time and fines, a DUI conviction can also cost you your driver's license. In Illinois, for example, a first-time DUI offense is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines, not to mention additional court costs. A first-time offender can also have his or her license suspended or even revoked. In Wisconsin, first-time offenders can face fines, and license suspension of 6 to 9 months.
A person who is arrested for DUI in Illinois after blowing .08 in a breath test or refusing to take the test will have his or her license summarily suspended, even if he or she is not ultimately found guilty. The length of the suspension depends on the specific circumstances and whether the driver has been previously charged with DUI. Meanwhile, a person who is convicted of DUI in Illinois will have his or her license revoked by the Secretary of State. In order to avoid revocation, a driver charged with DUI may seek "judicial supervision," an alternative to conviction in which the driver is required to pay fines, attend substance abuse classes and steer clear of unlawful behavior.
In Wisconsin, refusal to take a chemical sobriety test can lead to license suspension of 1, 2, or 3 years, depending on whether the driver is subject to first, second, or third-offense OWI charges. OWI convictions can lead to fines of up to $25,000 in cases involving multiple prior offenses, and in drunk driving incidents causing bodily injury. Additional penalties can include seizure of the driver’s vehicle, or installation of an ignition interlock device. It may be possible to have a Wisconsin OWI charge reduced down to a reckless driving or “wet reckless” charge instead of a drunk driving charge. A skilled attorney may be able to negotiate this kind of plea bargain on your behalf.
If you have been charged with a crime, including DUI or OWI, contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Nicolet Lawyers Immigration and Legal Services. Representing clients in a wide range of criminal matters, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and helping you get your life back on track. Please contact us online or call 773-562-6884 to schedule an appointment for a free consultation.