What Are the Penalties for a Repeat DUI Offense?

Wisconsin State Patrol recently responded to a multi-car crash on I-94, near Deerfield, Wisconsin, that killed four people. Authorities suspect driving under the influence to be the cause.

Authorities had responded to a 911 call about an erratic driver, but they were not able to pull the vehicle over in time. The vehicle began driving the wrong way on the interstate, striking two eastbound cars. The driver in one of the struck vehicles was killed, and the driver in the other vehicle was transported to a nearby hospital with life-threatening injuries. Three passengers were also killed. The driver in the wrong-way car, a 32-year-old Wisconsin man, also suffered serious injuries.

The wrong-way driver has two previous drunk driving convictions. Given that history, as well as the tragic outcome of this crash, it will be vitally important for the driver to consult with a DUI attorney.

In Wisconsin, the penalties for drunk driving vary based on the driver's criminal history. A first-time offense may not result in any jail time, especially when no injuries were involved. Where a drunk driver's actions resulted in serious injury or death, however, there is a very real possibility of a long prison sentence. Similarly, a fifth offense is automatically charged as a felony, where a conviction will result in at least six months in jail, if not a longer prison sentence. 

In this example, public opinion may convict the driver before the criminal justice system has gone to work, and prosecutors may be tempted to be overly aggressive. Yet every criminal defendant deserves to have a fair trial, where procedural due process is afforded to him or her, and where the prosecution is required to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced criminal defense firm, like ours, can work to ensure that a drunk driving defendant receives a fair trial.

Source: WKOW, "Man accused of causing fatal interstate crash repeat drunk driver," Nov. 4, 2016