If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving in Wisconsin, it is essential to contact an experienced Wisconsin drunk driving defense attorney as soon as possible to secure the best chances of fighting your case. This is even truer now that the Wisconsin legislature is considering new, stronger penalties for drunk driving.
Previously, a first-time offense for drunk-driving in Wisconsin could be charged as a civil violation in line with Wisconsin traffic laws. This is one of the most lenient drunk-driving laws for first offenders among the states. However, in an effort to combat drunk-driving incidents, accidents, and deaths as a result of drunk-driving, Wisconsin is moving to pass stronger penalties that would affect not only the severity of a drunk-driving charge for first and subsequent offenses, but the amount of jail time and fines that a defendant could face. An expert drunk-driving defense attorney will look at the circumstances of your case, and craft the best possible defense specifically for you.
Although the new drunk-driving laws are still under review and have yet to be passed, Wisconsin lawmakers are committed to reducing the instances of drunk-driving incidences and enhance penalties. This means that these laws may very well be in effect by the end of the year. Here’s what you should know about the new laws that are under consideration
Senate Bill 345: This bill would grant an extension of time to prosecutors when bringing criminal charges against drunk drivers in Wisconsin. Under the current law, prosecution of misdemeanor drunk driving must occur within three years of the incident, unless a legal exception applies. Senate Bill 345 would extend this time limit to six years, meaning that a person could potentially be charged for a drunk-driving incident up to six years after the occurrence. Additionally, Senate Bill 345 extends the time limit for commencement of prosecution of traffic ordinance violations from two years to three years.
Senate Bill 8/Assembly Bill 17: Senate Bill 8 and Assembly Bill 17 seek to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for drunk-driving incidents that result in a homicide. A judge who wished to impose a lesser sentence would be required to put his or her reasoning into writing on the record.
Senate Bill 7/Assembly Bill 15: Under current Wisconsin law, first-time drunk-driving offenders may be charged with a civil violation under traffic laws. This is exceptionally lenient compared to other state’s penalties. Senate Bill 7 and Assembly Bill 15, if passed, would require first-time drunk-driving offenders to face criminal charges and appear before a criminal court, rather than be charged with a civil violation. This could result in jail time, probation, and/or hefty fines.
Senate Bill 6: Senate Bill 6 would increase the mandatory minimum sentence for fifth- or sixth-time drunk-driving offenders. Currently, Wisconsin law sets the mandatory minimum for these offenses at sixth months in jail with a fine of at least $600. Senate Bill 6 would increase this mandatory minimum to 18 months of imprisonment, marking a large increase in potential jail time.
With the future of drunk-driving criminal penalties unknown, it is especially important to contact a Wisconsin Drunk-Driving Attorney if you have been arrested for or face charges of drunk-driving. An experienced attorney will use their knowledge of the law to navigate your current circumstances or any changes that may arise. A defense attorney will represent you at all court proceedings and present the strongest arguments and mitigating circumstances on your behalf. Hiring an attorney is key to getting your charges dismissed, reduced to a lesser crime, or facing less harsh penalties.
Contact a Wisconsin Drunk-Driving Attorney today to find out more information about how to proceed with your criminal matter and to start working on a specialized defense for your case.