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With the holiday season quickly approaching, it's no surprise we're starting to see more ads about the dangers of drinking and driving. And since Wisconsin is nationally known for the quality and amount of breweries in the state, we want to make sure the differences between an OWI and DUI are thoroughly explained.

Defining OWI

OWI stands for "Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated." This charge applies to any motorized vehicle operation while under the influence of alcohol or prescription/illegal drugs, including boats, cars, and snowmobiles. To be charged with this crime, an officer would need to prove that you are under the influence, commonly through the use of a breathalyzer exam to confirm your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). In Wisconsin, the Prohibited Alcohol Concentration an officer would need to confirm OWI is a minimum of .08%.

The criminal penalties for OWI can depend on whether this is the first offense of its nature. For the first offense, you will receive a fine between $150 and $300. No jail time is required, but your license will be revoked for six to nine months. Additionally, an Ignition Interlock Device or IID may be installed if your BAC was .15% or over at the time of arrest.

Defining DUI

DUI stands for "Driving Under the Influence" and applies when the driver was impaired by alcohol or drug usage. A breathalyzer test may also be administered in this instance to prove the BAC of the driver. This charge may be designated as "aggravated" if an accident took place or you were driving unsafely at the time or your license had been revoked before your arrest.

The criminal penalties associated with a DUI are greater than OWI. For first-time offenders, a fine of $766.50 and $1,050.50 may be considered sufficient, along with the revocation of your driver's license for six to nine months. Similar to OWI, an IID may be required if you had a BAC greater than .14%.

Arrested for OWI or DUI? Hire The Law Offices of Jason D. Baltz

OWI and DUI are not criminal offenses, but it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney after you have been arrested on one of these charges. Call us at to discuss your case today.