Each state has its own unique rules regarding safe driving on the road. Although federal law mandates that each state have an impaired driving statute, the states have the authority to use their own rules regarding this relatively common criminal offense.

In Wisconsin, people who get behind the wheel after drinking too much could face charges of operating while intoxicated (OWI). OWI charges often stem from police enforcement efforts. Whether due to random traffic stops or a roadblock checkpoint where every driver is subject to police scrutiny, many arrests related to impairments stem from law enforcement looking for impaired drivers.

Other times, people under the influence could cause a crash with another vehicle or property damage because of their impairment. In those situations, the driver will likely face charges as well. Many people assume that those accused of an OWI don’t have much legal recourse. However, it is entirely possible to defend yourself against a pending OWI charge. In fact, there are three compelling reasons you would want to.

An OWI could send you to jail

If you plead guilty to an OWI or wind up convicted, you could find yourself facing time in jail. Although first-time offenders typically do not need to serve a jail sentence, many individuals with the previous OWI on record will face anywhere from five days to 25 years in prison depending on the situation. Aggravating factors, including causing bodily injury or the death of another person while driving under the influence, could increase the jail time for the charges you face.

OWI convictions usually carry fines as well

Getting accused of an OWI can prove to be an expensive ordeal. You will have to pay costs associated with your jail time, as well as administrative and court fees. Then, there are the actual fines associated with your sentence.

First-time offenders could have a fine of as little as $150. However, the potential fines go up to as much as $100,000 in the event of a fatal crash involving alcohol. Repeat offenders could expect to pay several thousand dollars in fines, with the amount increasing depending on how many previous offenses they have.

OWI convictions also cost people their licenses

One of the most frustrating consequences of an OWI conviction is the suspension of the person’s driver’s license. Mandatory suspensions exist to help deter people from getting behind the wheel after drinking and also to prevent people from repeating the same mistake after their conviction. Depending on the number of OWI convictions you have had, the suspension of your license could last anywhere from six months 2.5 years in some cases.

Any one of these consequences would be life-altering on its own. However, you could face a combination of jail time, license suspension and fines. Especially when you consider how each subsequent conviction can result in more severe consequences, defending yourself against even a first OWI charge is often a wise move.