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Are all first time DUI offenses misdemeanors?


This Wisconsin drunk driving defense law blog has devoted many posts to the serious penalties and repercussions that drivers may face as they incur first time and subsequent drunk driving convictions. They may lose their licenses or they may face jail time and fines. However, within the state of Wisconsin, one type drunk driving charge -- first time OWI or DUI -- has remained a misdemeanor. In comparison, all other states have changed it to a felony charge.

First time drunk driving offenses are generally treated as civil traffic offenses and not criminal matters. However, the law has carved out an important exception to this otherwise unique rule. A driver arrested for a first time drunk driving charge can face more serious punishments if at the time he is arrested he has a child in the vehicle with him.

The penalties for a first time drunk driving conviction under the above-mentioned circumstances are the same as those that a person could face if convicted of a second DUI, OWI or other drunk driving offense. Though most first time offenses are treated as misdemeanors, readers should be aware that exceptions do exist. As the law is always changing to meet the needs of the public's welfare, those with questions about how to handle drunk driving defense matters may wish to consult with DUI defense legal professionals in their communities.

Wisconsin stands alone as the only state in which first time drunk driving charges are treated as misdemeanors. However, even this rule is not without exclusions and readers should be aware that a first time DUI or OWI conviction can form the basis of more serious penalties should the involved individual incur subsequent drunk driving-related charges. No drunk driving conviction is without consequences, and all individuals facing drunk driving legal battles can enlist the help of attorneys to help them prepare their defenses.

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