Wisconsin’s New OWI Law

2009 Wisconsin Act 100, relating to impaired driving, took effect July 1, 2010. Among several important changes, the law created new misdemeanor classifications, establishes probation eligibility for all criminal OWI offenders, permits all counties to adopt programs that offer reduced jail sentences on completion of treatment and supervision, expands orders and penalties regarding ignition interlock devices, and affects occupational license eligibility.…more info.

The Informing the Accused form is read by law enforcement officers to drivers who have been arrested for drunk driving before requesting a chemical test of breath, blood, or urine under the Implied Consent Law. It contains information about the driver’s duty to take whatever tests the police request and the law enforcement agency’s duty to then allow the driver additional tests.…more info.

Wisconsin OWI cases for Illinois drivers are more complicated in significant ways and must be handled differently than OWI cases for Wisconsin drivers. Because convicted Illinois drivers face more serious negative consequences, Wisconsin lawyers handling such cases must be familiar with the basics of the Illinois system...…more info.

Attorneys need to understand in what form and when a party aggrieved by an adverse municipal court judgment may appeal for circuit court review, because severe consequences can flow from decisions made and strategies used at the outset of a client’s municipal court case..…more info.

Under the current approach to dram shop liability, a substantial portion of the drinking driver crash-related costs fall upon innocent victims. Here’s how Wisconsin compares to other states, and what legislators can do to more fairly distribute these costs..…more info.

Social hosts face liability if they knowingly provide alcohol to underage guests who then injure third parties. The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently declined to extend liability to persons who, despite being aware of an underage drinking party on their property, did not actually provide the alcohol that led to a tragic car accident. The author explores the current state of social host liability for underage drinking in Wisconsin after the court’s Nichols decision...…more info.

Learn when you may face a fine, traffic school, higher insurance premiums, or even the suspension of your driver’s license.The consequences of not contesting a ticket, or fighting a ticket and being found guilty, can be serious. As you doubtless know, you can face a stiff fine, traffic school, significantly higher insurance premiums, and possibly even the suspension of your driver’s license.

  • Fine
    A routine ticket for speeding, failure to yield, or failure to stop at a stop sign will normally cost you between $75 and $400, depending on your state law and, sometimes, your driving record. Some states can base the fine, at least in part, on whether you have other recent violations. Otherwise, states normally have standard fines for particular violations based on the type of offense. In speeding cases, the fine can be based on how much you exceeded the posted speed limit.The fine is often written or printed on the ticket, but if it’s not, it’s easy to learn the amount by calling the district attorney.While paying up may be the easiest route for you to take, it can have lasting negative consequences to you since the violation will appear on your driving record, normally for about three years. Many states have a driving school where if you go to driver’s safety school, the ticket will lessen or go away. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is not one of these states.
  • Insurance Rates
    Depending on your state law and your insurance company’s policies, your auto insurance rates will normally not increase if you receive one ordinary moving violation over three to five years. Two or more moving violations — or a moving violation combined with an at-fault accident – – during the same time period might result in an increase in your insurance bill. Unfortunately, because insurance companies follow different rules when it comes to raising the rates of policyholders who pay fines or are found guilty of a traffic violation, it’s not always easy to know whether it makes sense to fight a ticket. Check with your insurance company. Sometimes that “More Inexpensive & Easy to Sign Up” policy does have its down sides.Before you can make an informed choice as to whether to pay, go to traffic school, or fight it out in court, it makes sense to find out whether having the ticket on your record will result in your insurance rates being upped. The most direct approach is to call your insurance company and ask. The problem with this approach is that it risks alerting your insurer that you have been ticketed (something you don’t want to do if you hope to successfully fight it or go to traffic school). One approach is to call your insurer anonymously and suggest you are considering switching insurance companies and want to gather information on a range of key issues, such as their criteria for good driver discounts and premium increases when covered drivers get ticketed.
    Another smarter move is to do it before you get a ticket when you have nothing better to do.
  • License Suspensions
    You won’t lose your license for one or usually even two tickets for a routine moving violation like speeding, running a stoplight, or stop sign, or many other garden-variety traffic scrapes. That
    is, unless you are under 18 years of age, where you could lose your driving privileges in some states.But if you have had at least three previous convictions for moving violations in the past three to five years, you could lose your license (parking violations don’t count). And if you are charged with drunk, reckless, or hit-and-run driving, and have several previous convictions for moving violations, you can be pretty sure your right to continue to hold your license is in jeopardy.In most states, license suspensions are handled on a point system. A license is at risk of being suspended if a driver gets three or more tickets in a short period. Check the exact rules with your state’s department of motor vehicles. Obviously, if you face losing your license, your incentive to fight a ticket goes way up no matter what your chances of winning.You are typically entitled to a hearing in front of a hearing officer before your license can be revoked. At that hearing it is often a good idea to explain why at least some of the violations were the result of mistakes by the ticketing officer, but for some good reason you didn’t fight the ticket. It also helps to explain the specific steps you’ve taken to drive more carefully and safely since the violations. Also, tell the hearing officers if it is essential that you commute to work or actually drive for your job, particularly if you will lose your job if you lose your license. Finally, if you drive 15,000 miles a year or more, you should mention this as well. Argue that since you drive more than average, your chances of getting tickets or having an accident are also above average.
  • Jail
    In every state, only those convicted of the more serious traffic violations — such as drunk or reckless driving — face the possibility of going to jail. In Wisconsin, unless there are additional aggravated facts involved, an OWI is a civil violation which does not call for a sentence involving jail. State laws do not allow a judge to impose a jail sentence for speeding or failure to stop at a signal. Even where laws do give judges the discretionary power to jail traffic offenders (such as a repeat offender), they very rarely choose to exercise it. Even though it is rare in Wisconsin, if the speeding is serious and often enough, it is a possibility

General Articles

Everything you need to know about bail: what it is, how it’s set, and how to pay it.A person’s first thought upon landing in jail is often how to get out — and fast. The usual way to do this is to “post bail”.
Bail is cash or a cash equivalent that an arrested person gives to a court to ensure that he or she will appear in court when ordered to do so. If the defendant doesn’t show up, the court may (without a lawyer to give the court an acceptable reason why the defendant has not shown up to court….”My car is broke” might work once, but not twice) keep the bail money and issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest.

Judges are responsible for setting bail. Because many people want to get out of jail immediately (instead of waiting up to 72 hours to see a judge), most jails have standard bail schedules that specify bail amounts for common crimes. A defendant looking for a signature bond (a bond in which all a defendant needs to do is sign vouching for his or her appearance and willing to have a judgment of XXX dollars placed against him or her if they don’t show up) needs to be put in place by a judge. This is done at a “Bond Hearing”. Sometimes the judge still insists on a cash bond if the crime is serious enough or there is a significant chance that the defendant will leave jail and not come back.

The Eighth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution requires that bail not be excessive. This means that bail should not be used to raise money for the government or to punish a person for being suspected of committing a crime. Remember: The purpose of bail is to allow the arrested person to remain free until convicted of a crime, and the amount of bail must be no more than is reasonably necessary to keep the suspect from fleeing before a case is over. However sometimes bail amounts, as mentioned before, can reflect the severity of a crime.

So much for theory. In fact, many judges set an impossibly high bail in particular types of cases (such as those involving drug sales, rape or homicide) to keep a suspect in jail until the trial is over. Although bail set for this purpose — called preventative detention — is thought by many to violate the Constitution, courts have uniformly rejected this argument (the issue has never been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, the ultimate arbiter of what is and is not constitutional).

If a defendant can’t afford the amount of bail on the bail schedule, he or she can ask a judge to lower it. Depending on the state, this request must be made either in a special bail setting hearing, called a “Bail Hearing” or when the defendant appears in court for the first time (usually called the initial appearance).

Bail can take any of the following forms:

• Cash or check for the full amount of the bail
• Property worth the full amount of the bail, or
• A waiver of payment on the condition that the defendant appears in court at the required time (commonly called “release on one’s own recognizance”).

A bail bond is like a check held in reserve: It represents the arrested person’s promise that he or she will appear in court when required. The bail bond is purchased by payment of a nonrefundable premium (usually about 10% of the face amount of the bond). This is the “Bail Bondsmen” system. Wisconsin does not have “Bail Bondsmen” system, though the legislature has entertained the idea recently…

A bail bond may sound like a good deal, but buying a bond may cost more in the long run. If the full amount of the bail is paid, it will be refunded (less a small administrative fee) when the case is over and all required appearances have been made. On the other hand, the 10% premium is nonrefundable. In addition, the bond seller may require “collateral”. This means that the person who pays for the bail bond must also give the bond seller a financial interest in some of the person’s valuable property. The bond seller can cash in on this interest if the suspect fails to appear in court.

Sometimes people are released “on their own recognizance,” or “O.R.” A defendant released O.R. must simply sign a promise to show up in court and is not required to post bail. These are not that common due to Wisconsin’s well used Signature Bond system.

In Wisconsin, the vast majority of defendants are released on “Signature Bonds”. As mentioned before a signature bond requires the defendant to sign a piece of paper, called the signature bond” in which they are vouching for the fact that they are going to come back to court. If not the court will enter a money judgment equaling most, if not all, the amount of the bond against the defendant.

In general, defendants who are released on signature bonds have strong ties to a community, making them unlikely to flee. Factors that may convince a judge to grant a signature bond include the following:

• The defendant has family members (most likely parents, a spouse, or children) living in the community.
• The defendant has resided in the community for many years.
• The defendant has a job.
• The defendant has little or no past criminal record, or any previous criminal problems were minor and occurred many years earlier.
• The defendant has been charged with previous crimes and has always appeared as required.

In this website there is section called, The Process. This is a rough timeline of the actual criminal procedure court process from start to finish. However this timeline doesn’t explain the vocabulary and in-depth background in to what is really going on. Hopefully this article can help with some further questions.
In this Article:
+ What’s the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
+ What is the “presumption of innocence”?
+ How can I tell from reading a criminal statute whether I’m guilty of the crime it defines?
+ What standard is used in criminal trials to prove a defendant is guilty?
+ If I’m accused of a crime, am I guaranteed a trial by a jury?
+ Why would an innocent defendant choose not to testify?
+ What happens if a defendant is judged “incompetent to stand trial”?

Wisconsin divides their crimes into two major groups: felonies and misdemeanors. Whether a crime falls into one category or the other depends on the potential punishment. If a law provides for imprisonment for longer than a year, it is usually considered a felony. If the potential punishment is for a year or less, then the crime is considered a misdemeanor.

Behaviors punishable only by fine are usually not considered crimes at all, but civil violations – for example, traffic tickets. Sometimes a civil violation, such as disorderly conduct, can be charged out as a misdemeanor; it depends upon the severity of the offense.