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Project Drive Sober: Costs of a first-offense OWI

Posted: 4:44 PM, Apr 30, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-01 03:49:28Z
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. — A first-offense OWI is not a crime in Wisconsin, but the violation will likely cost a driver thousands of dollars.

"OWI first is financially very taxing," defense attorney Steven Johnson said. "It's a minimum $150 to $300 fine, plus court costs, plus a $435 surcharge, plus AODA assessment is about $250."

Johnson said that the entire process can cost a person thousands of dollars. He does advise hiring a lawyer, but that comes with an additional cost. Each OWI could bring other fines and penalties as well.

"Ignition interlock has a cost, occupational license has a cost, reinstating your license after mandatory revocation, suspension has a cost, everything has a cost," Johnson said.

Those costs could all vary based on factors like blood alcohol level, if children were in the car, or if there is an accident involved.

"If there's an accident involved, now are you at fault," Justin Lardinois at Pagel Associates Insurance Agency said. "Was it just property damage or was there bodily injury?"

Lardinois says an insurance company will look at those factors, and many companies will cancel or not renew a police after an OWI.

"You're likely going to be with a company that's considered non-standard or high risk, so the cost of insurance in general is probably going to double or triple from what you would expect with a preferred or standard company," Lardinois said.

A driver will also likely lose any safe-driving discounts.

"It adds up very quickly," Lardinois said.