WISCONSIN COURT OF APPEALS HOLDS THAT OWI 1st CONVICTION MORE THAN 10 YEARS FROM FIRST ACTUAL OWI MEANS COURT MUST ORDER IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICE.
For first-offense OWI convictions, where the BAC is .15 or greater, the court must order that an interlock ignition device ("IID") be installed in any vehicle driven, owned or registered to the defendant. Wis. Stat. § 343.301. An IID must be ordered for all criminal second or greater OWI's . However, what about when a person is charged with OWI 1st because the first OWI was more than 10 years ago? That guy doesn't get the IID if the BAC was less than .15, right? The Court of Appeals answered that question just this Wednesday, January 29th, in Village of Grafton v. Eric L. Seatz, 2013AP1414. I am guessing Eric L. Seatz doesn't like the answer.
According to the Court of Appeals, when it comes to the IID, a first-offense OWI isn't a first offense if it isn't a real first offense. The court wrote:
"The ten-year look-back provision in Wis. Stat. § 346.65(2)(am)2. for purposes of determining whether to charge or penalize a repeat OWI offender civilly or criminally is independent of whether a person has one or more prior OWI
convictions under Wis. Stat.§ 343.307(1) and has no effect on orders for ignition interlock devices under Wis. Stat. § 343.301. The different language of §§ 346.65(2)(am)2. and 343.301(1g)(b)2. indicates that the legislature had
different intentions for how each statute treats prior OWI convictions." Seatz, 2013AP1414, par. 7.
Many in Wisconsin have decried the civil nature of the first-offense OWI, arguing that it's too easy on the offender and diminishes the seriousness of the offense. The Court of Appeals has made it a tougher on the second "first-offense" driver. Having an IID order means paying around $1,000 in equipment rental fees for each vehicle subject to the order--not to mention all the stigma involved in having one of the things in your car. More than ever, there is reason to fight your "OWI 1st 2nd."