Law enforcement agencies throughout Wisconsin will be very aggressive when patrolling for drunk drivers during the holiday season. Many motorists may think that they are under the state's 0.08 percent legal limit after having a few drinks when in fact their blood-alcohol content (BAC) may be much higher than what is considered safe to drive.

If these motorists are arrested for OWI/DUI, they could be facing some rather serious consequences. The charges and penalties that will be handed down if convicted will depend upon the driver's BAC, as well as any other drunk-driving convictions that may have occurred within a certain time period.

For a first-time offender, a conviction of OWI/DUI will result in a license suspension that could run anywhere from six to nine months. Provisional driving privileges may be available in certain circumstances, but these motorists will have to comply with several requirements in order to keep driving. Drivers licensed in Illinois who are arrested for DUI in Wisconsin could face an even longer license suspension, and comply with other requirements before being able to drive again.

If the offender's BAC was 0.15 percent or higher, the motorist will be required to install an ignition interlock device on all of the vehicles that the motorist drives, unless the individual petition's the court for an exception. Additional DUI offenses increase the period of license suspension, and it is possible that some motorists will receive jail time.

The courts will look at the driver's record, and see how many DUI/OWI offenses the motorist has had within the last ten years. If a person receives a fourth DUI conviction, and has had at least one within the past five years, he or she may be charged with a felony, under the current laws.

The legislature is considering a new proposal that would remove this five-year restriction and instead allow felony charges for any fourth offense, no matter how old the previous convictions. The bill has passed the Assembly, and is awaiting review by the Senate. The new bill also changes some of the penalties that would be handed down for two-time DUI offenders, and increases the likelihood that these individuals would receive jail time.

Every DUI/OWI arrest will involve different facts, and it is important to review these situations carefully to determine the defenses that may be available. If you have been charged with drinking and driving, you should discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area as soon as possible.

An attorney will be able to help you understand the charges that have been filed, and also the penalties that may result if you are convicted. You and your attorney will be able to work together to design an approach to that allows you to protect the things that are most important to you. If you plead guilty without contesting these allegations, you will be facing much more serious consequences if you are convicted of other drunk-driving related offenses.