Ignition Interlock Device May Be Required for Wisconsin OWI Conviction

People convicted of driving drunk in Wisconsin, legally termed Operating While Intoxicated, or OWI, face certain penalties such as automatic driver's license suspension, fines and the possibility of jail time. In addition, some drivers may be required to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.

Wisconsin OWI Laws

In Wisconsin, a driver convicted of a first-time OWI with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater faces fines of $150-$300 and a six- to nine-month driver's license revocation. Drivers convicted of a second OWI within 10 years of the first could be sentenced to pay increased fines and spend five days to six months in jail.

If the driver's BAC was 0.15 or greater at the time of testing, even if it is the driver's first OWI offense, the driver must install an ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle for a minimum of one year. An ignition interlock device operates similar to a Breathalyzer, and the driver must blow into the device before the car will start. The driver must also blow into the device at random intervals while the car is running. If the device detects a certain level of alcohol, the car will not start. The individual driver bears the cost of installing and maintaining the ignition interlock device.

In addition to drivers convicted of OWI with a BAC of 0.15 or greater, drivers convicted of multiple OWI offense also must use ignition interlock devices. Further, drivers convicted of breath-test refusal in Wisconsin also may be ordered to use ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.

Ignition Interlock Rules

Along with requiring an ignition interlock device, a judge can revoke or restrict a driver's license privileges. When a driver convicted of OWI completes the license revocation period or receives a restricted driver's license, the time period for which the driver must use an ignition interlock device begins to run when driving privileges are restored.

A person ordered to use an ignition interlock device can be fined $150 to $600 and possibly jailed for up to six months for failing to install the device. Additionally, the period required to use the ignition interlock device will be extended by six months. The same penalties may apply for tampering with an ignition interlock device, removing it or finding some way to get around providing a breath sample.

Everyone accused of OWI is innocent until proven guilty and ought to defend their rights. A criminal defense attorney with experience in drunk driving cases will do all that is possible to try to avoid a conviction that could result in the inconvenience and expense of having to use an ignition interlock device.

The lawyers at Melowski & Associates, LLC., understand Wisconsin DUI law. To learn more or schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys, contact our Sheboygan office at 920-299-5074.