Wisconsin is still the only state in the entire nation where a first DUI amounts to nothing more than an expensive traffic ticket. Repeat offenders don’t fare as well when it comes to penalties, but a Wisconsin OWI can still mean a lighter sentence than if you’d received a DUI or OWI in another state.
But Wisconsin judges don’t always go along with standard sentencing recommendations for a Wisconsin OWI, and one case in Pierce County shows how a judge can take matters into his own hands.
The offender in this case was a repeat offender on his ninth conviction. He was stopped with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.267 after he almost crashed into a deputy’s vehicle.
Although there was some discussion between two lawyers who created a plea agreement, the judge didn’t believe three years in prison and three years on probation was enough. Because it was his ninth conviction and he pleaded guilty expecting he’d receive the minimum sentence available, the judge didn’t feel as though he understood just how serious his crime was.
Stating that he couldn’t go along with the recommendation from the lawyers, he handed down his own sentence. The judge decided that it would be much more appropriate if he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, five of which he absolutely has to spend behind bars.
While in jail he’ll be able to participate in a substance-abuse program, and when he’s out of jail he’ll lose his driver’s license for three years and be required to drive with an ignition interlock for two years.
This offender actually got off easily. A seventh or eighth Wisconsin OWI calls for a maximum prison sentence of 12 years and fines up to $25,000. The judge could have handed down that sentence, but maybe he’s hoping that this Wisconsin offender will stop drinking and driving without spending over a decade in prison.