Will I go to jail for a DUI/OWI/Drunk Driving?


I hear this question all the time. Unfortunately, like most questions people ask lawyers, the answer is, “It depends.” It depends on a great many variables. While you are waiting in police custody to be released to a responsible party or worse while you sit in jail waiting to appear in front of the intake court, you are probably not calmly and methodically working through the logic of the situation. The fact is, your mind is racing because ever since you saw the lights of the squad car in your review mirror you’ve asked yourself a great many questions you may not know the answer to. “Why was I pulled over?”  “Will I lose my job or my license?” and the subject of this post: “Am I going to jail?”

Regardless of whether this is a repeat offense, you may spend the night in jail, or at least 12 hours, if you have no one to pick you up. If you are accused of a repeat offense, you may be held for court if the court fast tracks these cases. Otherwise you will be given a date to return to the intake court and released. The intake court determines the conditions of your release which may include cash bail.

Let’s start with the guarantees. If you are ultimately acquitted by a judge or jury, if the case is dismissed because of successful motion practice or if your attorney is able to negotiate and amendment of the charge, you are definitely not going to jail. You will not be able to get any of these results without an attorney at your side.

In Wisconsin, a first offense is not criminal and you cannot be sentenced to serve time in jail on a first offense. If you fail to pay your fine, the court might issue a warrant for your arrest which could result in you serving an alternate jail sentence, so pay that fine on time.

If you are convicted of a repeat offense, Wisconsin law mandates a jail sentence some cases are classified as felonies (since January 1st 4th offenses and greater) and you may enjoy the hospitality of the Wisconsin Prison System.

Without question, regardless of the severity of the offense, an OWI conviction can be a life changing event. Even if you think you don’t have a chance, you should seek the advice of competent counsel. It is always wise to get as much information as possible before you make an important decision. Most lawyers who practice in this area will not charge you for a consultation and you are likely to get valuable insights.

Stay safe,

Eric

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