How Long Will an OWI in Wisconsin Stay on My Record?

In most states, if you drive while intoxicated, you will receive a DWI or a DUI. Wisconsin statutes refer to this behavior as operating while intoxicated (OWI). Though the name is different, the consequences of an OWI are roughly identical to those of a DUI or DWI.

If you have been convicted of an OWI, it can have lifelong consequences. Potential employers and landlords can see your conviction records when you apply for a job or an apartment. Is there a way to change that? Will the conviction ever leave your record? Unfortunately, that record of your conviction is permanent.

Removal Is Technically Possible

The only way that OWIs have ever been expunged in Wisconsin is by Supreme Court pardons. And the only examples in the history of Wisconsin were for decorated combat veterans. Since this is rare, even for people who fit into that category, you should not expect to have an OWI expunged.

Alternative to Removal

Seeing as removal isn’t a reasonable option, your best way to “remove” an OWI from your record is to avoid being convicted after your arrest.

This means you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you are arrested for an OWI in Wisconsin. Attorneys who have substantial experience in criminal defense are more likely to be able to negotiate for other charges that won’t result in you getting an OWI on your record.

Even if your case does go to trial, a good attorney makes it more likely that you will be found not guilty. And if you are found guilty, that doesn’t have to be the end of the fight. Your attorney may have grounds for appeal, which can prevent the conviction from ever being placed on your record.

However, this only works if you have never been previously convicted of an OWI. Once you have been found guilty even once, that conviction becomes a permanent part of your record.

Consequences of an OWI Conviction

The best defense lawyers’ fees are worth it in the long run. If you are found guilty of an OWI in Wisconsin, the minimum penalty is a fine of at least $150 and revocation of your license for at least six months. You will also be forced to pay a $435 surcharge.

That may not seem so bad, but it only represents the penalty the state applies to you. Your insurance premium will also increase massively, often by thousands of dollars over a few years.

The worst penalty, though, is that the OWI becomes part of your public record, and financial institutes and employers will judge you for it. That can cost tens of thousands across a lifetime.

Don’t Ruin Your Life by Getting an OWI

The best way to avoid getting an OWI is to avoid drinking and driving. But if you are arrested for an OWI in Wisconsin, seek legal help from an experienced attorney immediately to protect your future.