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Do I need a lawyer for a 1st offense OWI while under 21?

Milwaukee, WI |

I was driving a friend home in his car because he was not able to drive (he had been drinking). His speedometer did not work and I was unaware of how fast I was going however I knew I was not going too fast. I was pulled over going 46 in a 30. The passeneger caused a ruckus and next thing you know I was asked to do a field sobriety test, breathalized and arrested. nothing happend to the passenger.

It is my first offense and I do not want it on my record, what can I do. How can I find it?
I am currently unemployed how would i go about getting a lawyer.

thanks -- I will send more info if needed.

** typo ** It is my first offense and I don't want it on my record, I am 20 (turning 21 in 2013) and this will affect me for the rest of my life. I just want to speak with someone to explain and see what kind of outcomes can come out if they know the whole story. What kind of defenses can I use, Do I need a lawyer, what kind of lawyer are there any lawyers for low income (student, not much money -- unemployed at the moment). Thanks

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Attorney answers 4


Yes, you should definitely speak to a local criminal defense attorney in your area who handles cases involving OWI. Most attorneys offer free initial consultations but shop around to be sure.

The consequences are pretty serious for drinking and driving, even if it is a first offense and nobody was injured. If money is an issue then you should try to find a way and get the money together to hire a lawyer. Otherwise, see if you can qualify for a public defender or some sort of program that offers legal services for free or at a steep discount.

Lawyers will know the state statutes, court rules and how to get the necessary information from your particular situation and apply the law to negotiate a favorable outcome or possibly try the case before a judge. So it is in your interest to get one if you can. There is too much at stake for you to handle this alone.

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A simple first offense OWI is not a crime in WI, so unless someone was injured, or you had a minor passenger in the vehicle at the time, or fail to pay the resulting fine, no jail should result. However, that also means that you are not entitled to an attorney at public expense.

Sentencing guidelines for the First Judicial District (Milwaukee) are based upon alcohol concentration, and are as follows:

Citations issued after July 1, 2009
Below .150 $150-$175
6 months Revocation
6-7 months Revocation
7-8 months Revocation
.150 to .199 $175-$225
6-7 months Revocation
7-8 months Revocation
8-9 months Revocation
.20 and above, or if defendant refuses to give
a sample
7-8 months Revocation
8-9 months Revocation
9 months Revocation
$150-$300 Forfeiture
Costs total $502.50 (Driver Improvement Surcharge, Court Costs, Jail Surcharge, Justice Information
Surcharge, Court Support Surcharge, Crime Lab/Drug Surcharge) plus a penalty surcharge equal to
26% of the fine
6-9 Months
No waiting period for Occupational License (343.30)
Double minimum and maximum fine (346.65(2)(f))
If first refusal, 1 year revocation and 30-day waiting period for Occupational License (343.305(10(b)2)
If no refusal hearing is requested, revocation period begins 30 days after the date of the refusal. If a
hearing is requested, revocation period begins 30 days after the date of refusal or immediately upon a
final determination that the refusal was improper, whichever is later. (343.305(10)(a))
If a minor passenger, length of revocation doubles (343.305(10)(b)4m)
Court Shall Order:
• Community service for defendant unable to pay the fine (346.65(2g)(ag))
Court May Order:
• Safety plan to include effect on victim or victim’s family
• Community service work that demonstrates adverse effects of substance abuse or OWI to
reduce the amount of forfeiture or fine (346.65(2g) (a))
• Site visit that demonstrates the effects of substance abuse (346.65(2i))
• Reduction of the forfeiture/fine and payment of the difference toward the cost of the alcohol
assessment and driver safety plan (346.65(2e))
• Restitution (346.65(2r) (a))
Interlock restriction does not apply to first offense until July, 2010, and then only if the PAC ≥ .15

If your test result was .08 or higher, you are also facing administrative suspension of your license, potentially before you ever get to court. Upon conviction, you will be ordered to have an AODA assessment, and follow through with any recommended education or treatment.

You should at least consult counsel about your situation, sooner rather than later.

This answer is provided for general information only. No legal advice can be given without a consult as to the specifics of the case.

Joseph A Lo Piccolo

Joseph A Lo Piccolo


Great Answer!!!!!!!


Yes. YES. Y.E.S.!
Absolutely--you risk a criminal record, fines, license suspension, community service, jail etc.....

I am a criminal defense attorney practicing in Nassau, Suffolk and New York City. The above information is not a substitution for a meeting whereas all potential legal issues can be discussed.

Charles K. Kenyon Jr.

Charles K. Kenyon Jr.


No risk of a criminal record for a first in Wisconsin. Rest is correct.


First, do not listen to the out of state attorneys claiming this is a criminal offense. In WI, a first offense is civil, not criminal. This means you are not facing any jail time. You are facing a 6-9 month driver license revocation; a fine; 6 points; an alcohol and other drug assessment, and any follow up treatment; and if you had a .15 or more (or if you refused the requested test) a 1-year IID requirement on any vehicles in your name.

Whether you want an attorney depends on a cost-benefit analysis. What are the potential benefits v. the cost to you? Because this is a civil offense, you do not have a right to an attorney. So, you cannot get a public defender or court-appointed attorney. Your only options are to hire your own attorney or represent yourself. At the very least, consider purchasing a few hours of an attorney's time to review your case, show you how to handle it, etc

If you deal with the prosecutor on your own, do not discuss the facts of the case with him or her. Anything you say to the prosecutor may be used against you in court.

The typical defenses and specific defenses in your case are too numerous and complex for a forum like Avvo. For more specific advice, consult with local, experienced DUI attorneys. Most initial consultations are free. So, you have nothing to lose at first.

Good luck!