I know someone who is charged with a 5th OWI but the first 2 convictions are from 1989 and 1991. The fourth OWI charge is from another state that dropped the ball on finishing an OWI conviction back from 2005. It appears district attorney is making this a 5th OWI to convict as a felony.
Criminal Defense Attorney
The ten year look back only applies to second offense OWI offenses.
For example, if a person had been convicted of an OWI 1st in 2001, then a second OWI charge in 2012 would have to be charged as a first offense as well. However, a third offense occurring in 2013 would be properly charged as a third offense under Wisconsin law despite there being no prior conviction for a second offense. Similarly, a 1st in 2001, a 2nd in 2002 would still leave a 2013 charged OWI as a third offense, despite the ten year gap between the second and third offenses.
The prosecutor MAY be able to properly charge a fifth offense based upon an out of state OWI charge that did not result in a conviction for an OWI under certain circumstances if the defendant had been subjected to a license revocation or suspension.