Suppose your 14-year-old child attends a birthday party with a friend at the Milwaukee Art Museum or the Harley-Davidson Museum. You have had a few drinks and you get an unexpected call to pick up your child. On the way home, an officer stops you for suspected drunk driving. Your minor child is in the car. You are in serious trouble!
With no prior convictions and without a child in the car, you would have a civil offense of operating under the influence. It wouldn’t be a crime. However, with the change in the law in Wisconsin a few years ago, having a minor child in the car subjects you to up to 6 months in jail, a fine of $1,100 + costs, 18-month revocation of operating privileges, assessment, and compliance with a driver safety plan. If your alcohol concentration at the time of operation is 0.15 or higher you will be subject to an 18-month Ignition Interlock order.
If you have a prior conviction for operating under the influence, having a minor child in the car subjects you to up to 12 months in jail, a fine of $2,200 + costs, 36-month revocation of operating privileges, assessment and compliance with a driver safety plan, and 36-month Ignition Interlock order.
In the Wisconsin OWI statute, the minor must be under the age of 16 for the enhanced penalty structure.
It’s not just the incarceration that can be life-altering. The criminal conviction can jeopardize current and future employment. Even if you retain your employment the conviction can impair potential future promotions and can put you in an unfavorable light with customers. If you drive as part of your employment and your employer has fleet auto coverage, the employer may be unwilling to pay the increased premiums to insure you.
The conviction will increase the likelihood of future traffic stops because when officers check your license plate, they will note that the owner of the vehicle has been convicted of OWI. If you apply for another job, the conviction appears on a criminal background check. The conviction will appear on CCAP for 20 years. Having a conviction involving a child can damage your reputation as a parent.
If an officer stops you and suspects you are operating under the influence, be polite, and provide your license and insurance card. If the officer begins asking questions, ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says no, ask if you are under arrest. If the officer says no, say that you want to leave. If the officer doesn’t permit this, say that you won’t answer questions or perform field sobriety tests until you can talk to a lawyer. If the officer reads the Informing the Accused form, you are being asked if you will submit to a blood test or breath test. You should agree to this because if you don’t, the officer will obtain a warrant for a forcible blood draw.
Being accused of OWI with a minor passenger in the vehicle is a severe matter in Wisconsin. If you are convicted, you could spend a significant amount of time in jail, suffer a lengthy license revocation, be under an Ignition Interlock order, pay thousands in fines, be saddled with a criminal record, and suffer other consequences previously outlined.
That is why you should retain a Milwaukee OWI lawyer at the Law Office of Michael Hayes today. Our attorneys will protect your rights and mitigate the consequences. In some cases, a jury trial will be recommended. Contact our Milwaukee OWI lawyer for a free consultation.