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Hayes & Rothstein

OWI with a Minor Passenger Is a Serious Offense

Defending those charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated

Wisconsin recently adopted a very strict law criminalizing every OWI if there is a minor passenger under the age of 16. At Hayes & Rothstein, we appreciate the importance of family to the people of Milwaukee and work tenaciously to protect your family against undue hardship.

Who is considered a minor passenger?

The definition of a "minor" pertaining to OWIs is different from the usual definition. In Wisconsin, a minor passenger is a person under the age of 16. This is often a problem for a parent driving home from a family gathering. If the parent is caught drunk driving while transporting any child under the age of 16, the penalty structure upon conviction for OWI becomes significantly more punitive. It is important to discuss this kind of case with an experienced Milwaukee attorney who will look out for the current and future interests of you and your family.

OWI with a minor passenger is now a criminal offense

For offenses occurring prior to July 1, 2010, the law provided that the penalties doubled if there was a passenger under age 16. For offenses occurring thereafter, in addition to the penalties doubling, a first offense operating under the influence with a passenger under age 16 is now a criminal misdemeanor, with the range of penalties the same as for operating under the influence second offense. Upon conviction for operating under the influence first offense with a passenger under age 16, the court must impose a jail sentence of five days to 6 months, a 12- to 18-month driver license revocation, one-year to 18-month ignition interlock ievice period, and a forfeiture of $350-$1,100 plus costs. Occupational license eligibility is immediate following conviction.

OWI third offense with minor passenger is a felony. Sec. 346.65(2)(f)2 of the Wisconsin statutes provides that the fines and imprisonment for OWI second and subsequent offenses will double if at the time of the violation there was a minor passenger under 16 years of age in the vehicle. The maximum of one year in jail for operating under the influence third offense therefore becomes two years of incarceration. If the judge at sentencing orders more than one year of incarceration, the sentence must be served in the Wisconsin state prison system. If the court orders one year of incarceration, the judge must specify whether the sentence is to the Wisconsin state prison system or to the county jail. A sentence of under one year must be served in the county jail under Sec. 973.02 of the Wisconsin statutes.

Contact us for a free consultation in Milwaukee about your OWI with a minor passenger

Your case and your family are important to the attorneys at Hayes & Rothstein,. If you were arrested for an OWI with a minor passenger, contact us online or call us at 414.291.9911 to set up an appointment for your free initial consultation.

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