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& Drunk Driving Defense

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"Sydne was very informative and made me feel at ease from the moment we first met. I would definitely recommend her to anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation as I." Former OWI client

"Sydne was always available to answer every question I had throughout the entire process, but most importantly she worked not just for me, but with me. I feel like this was the difference between just being a client, and being her client. " R.E.

Attorney Sydne FrenchI try to take a personal interest in every person who calls me for help. I do my best to make sure they do not feel like they are just a case number or just another "defendant." I make the time to really listen to their side of things, their perspectives, and their concerns. I do my best to stay in touch, and I welcome my clients to do the same. They know they can call me 24/7 and that I am there for them 100%.

"Sydne's commitment to her clients,
to the ideal of justice, and to the goal
of zealous representation is unparalleled.
" Keith Findley, President, International Innocence Network; Co-Director, Wisconsin Innocence Project


Winner of the Baldwin Award for Excellence in Criminal Law
Frequently Asked Questions



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Superior Results

Solid Success Rate
Hundreds of Cases Won

We are passionate about what we do and it shows.  We have earned  a solid reputation for negotiating significantly reduced charges, penalties, and dismissals while aggressively defending our clients against the power and resources of the State.

Visit our News Room and take a look at some of the results we have achieved for our clients.  You'll see why we are one of the most well respected criminal and drunk driving defense firms in Wisconsin.


The Law Offices of
Sydne French

200 South Executive Drive
Suite 101
Brookfield, Wisconsin 53005

  250 East Wisconsin Avenue
18th Floor
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
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OWI DUI DWI Drunk Driving

The Law Offices of Sydne French

Aggressive Defense Against the Power & Resources of the State


  • Overview
  • DOT Administrative Suspensions
  • Occupational Licenses
  • OWI Sentencing Guidelines
  • Illinois Drivers
  • Blood Alcohol Charts
  • FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

Milwaukee Waukesha OWI DUI DWI
Drunk Drivinng Defense Attorneys Lawyers

Arrested for Drunk Driving? Facing OWI DUI DWI Charges?

Don't let a drunk driving charge ruin your life. Get the aggressive, experienced defense you deserve!

Defending preople facing drunk driving charges is a highly technical and specialized area of practice. It requires thorough knowledge of the relevant legal standards, the trial and pre-trial procedures governing the admission of evidence, and a thorough understanding of the rates of alcohol absorption, distribution, elimination, and alcohol's effects on the human body. It also requires a working knowledge of the various devices used by police to test and measure the level of alcohol in the body, and how to discredit and expose field sobriety tests for what they really are — nonscientific, highly subjective and unreliable tests designed for failure. To fight your case head on, you need a lawyer well versed in these areas, and one who knows how to win these types of cases.

Achieving Superior Results

We are passionate about what we do and it shows. Attorney Sydne French has fought and won hundreds of drunk driving cases for Wisconsin and Illinois drivers (facing Wisconsin OWI charges) in courts across the eastern border of the State of Wisconsin. She is known for negotiating significantly reduced charges, penalties, and dismissals. Check out our Winning Cases News Room and see some of the extraordinary results we have achieved for our clients.

Our firm specializes in defending Wisconsin health care professionals against drunk driving charges, the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing (DLR), and the relevant professional boards to help our clients keep their licenses, or to obtain their licenses if they are still in training.  For more information on how our firm can defend you against OWI charges and the loss of your professional license, click here to visit our Defending Health Care Professionals page.


Contact us today to schedule a free no-hassle consultation with Sydne in our Waukesha office or Milwaukee office.  We can also schedule a consultation by phone if you like.  Whatever is most convenient for you!



DOT Administrative Suspensions

Actions Required of Officer Upon Arrest

If results from a chemical test (blood or breath) indicate an alcohol concentration over the legal limit, the arresting officer must do each of the following (assuming the Implied Consent Law requirements were followed): (1) report the results to the DOT (2) take the arrestee’s license and forward it to the DOT. The Wisconsin operating privilege is then administratively suspended for 6 months.  The arrestee is provided with a pink form, called the Notice of Intent to Suspend Operating Privilege.  This form serves as a temporary license and is valid for 30 days.

Requesting the Administrative Review

Along with the pink Notice of Intent to Suspend, the officer must provide the arrestee with a yellow Administrative Review Request form.  This form must be filled out and mailed to the DOT within 10 days after the date on the notice, or within 13 days if the notice is mailed (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays).  Failure to mail the form within 10 days effectively waives your right to a review.  Instructions on how to request an administrative review are printed on the form.

The Administrative Hearing

The DOT must hold the administrative suspension review hearing within 30 days after the date of notification.  The arrestee may present evidence and may be presented by an attorney.  There is no statutory or constitutional right to counsel however. The arresting officer does not need to appear at the hearing unless he or she is subpoenaed; however, the officer is required to submit to the hearing examiner, a copy of his or her report and the results of the chemical test.

The hearing is limited to the following issues:

  1. the correct identity of the person;
  2. whether the person was informed of the options regarding tests;
  3. whether the person had a prohibited alcohol concentration at the time the offense allegedly occurred;
  4. whether one or more tests were administered in accordance with the Implied Consent Law;
  5. if one or more tests were administered, whether each of the test results for those tests indicates the person had a prohibited alcohol concentration; and
  6. whether probable cause existed for the arrest.
The administrative suspension review hearing is an informal hearing.  The hearing examiner is a DOT employee. There is no court or judge.  The hearing may be held by: (1) phone, (2) written arguments, or by (3) appearance in-person.

Decision of Hearing Examiner

Notice of the hearing examiner's decision is mailed to the arrestee, usually within one or two days of the hearing. If the hearing examiner finds that the criteria for administrative suspension have not been satisfied, or that the arrestee did not have a prohibited alcohol concentration at the time of the incident, the examiner must issue an order and notice to the arrestee that the DOT will not administratively suspend the arrestee’s driving privilege.  If the examiner finds otherwise, the administrative suspension will continue.

Notice of Decision, Judicial Review, and Stay of DOT Decision

Along with the notice of the hearing decision, the hearing examiner must notify the arrestee in writing of the right to judicial review.  The notice should also inform the arrestee of the court’s authority to issue a stay of the suspension.  If the hearing examiner fails to mail the  notice within 30 days after the date of the notification, the administrative suspension is vacated and the operating privilege is automatically reinstated.



Occupational Licenses

An occupational license is a restricted driver's license. The Department of Transportation (DOT) limts your driving in terms of times of day and places to which you may drive.  You may only drive to and from work, church, or other places (e.g., medical or treatment/counseling) indicated on the license.  You may not use an occupational license for recreational purposes or to operate a commercial motor vehicle.  Your total drive time is limited to 12 hours per day and no more than 60 hours per week. If you operate outside the specific hours listed on your occupational license or for a purpose other than those permitted on the license, you could be arrested for operating after suspension or revocation.

How to Apply

To apply for an occupational driver’s license, your regular license must first be revoked or suspended.  The DOT has made available supplemental information on regarding the occupation license process, “Occupational License Information,” and a sample DOT occupational license application. The information will provide you with the steps you need to take to get your occupational license.

There are many other requirements you must satisfy before becoming eligible for an occupational license.  Contact our office today to learn more about the application process.



OWI DUI DWI Sentencing Guidelines

Sentencing is a complex process that no individual or attorney should take lightly. Every attempt should be made to minimize the negative points in your case, and identify / emphasize the positives. You should consult with an attorney before making any decisions about your case and never rely solely on information found on the Internet.

You need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the sentencing guidelines in PDF format.  If you do not have Acrobat Reader, you can download it for free at the Adobe web site.  [DOWNLOAD A FREE ACROBAT READER NOW]

Guidelines By District

Statewide OAR/OWS Guidelines

First Judicial District Sentencing Guidelines
Milwaukee County

Second Judicial District Sentencing Guidelines
Kenosha, Racine, Walworth counties
Third Judicial District Sentencing Guidelines
Jefferson, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha counties
Fourth Judicial District Sentencing Guidelines
Calumet, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Winnebago counties
Fifth Judicial District Sentencing Guidelines
Dane, Green, Lafayette, Rock counties

Sixth Judicial District Sentencing Guidelines
Adams, Clark, Columbia, Dodge, Green Lake, Juneau, Marquette, Portage, Sauk, Waushara, Wood counties

Seventh Judicial District Sentencing Guidelines
Buffalo, Crawford, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Richland, Trempealeau, Vernon counties
Eighth Judicial District Sentencing Guidelines
Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, Waupaca counties
Ninth Judicial District Sentencing Guidelines
Florence, Forest, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Menominee, Oneida, Price, Shawano, Taylor, Vilas counties
Tenth Judicial District Sentencing Guidelines
Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Chippewa, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Polk, Rusk, St. Croix, Sawyer, Washburn counties




Illinois DUI Drivers

Special Considerations

If you are an Illinois resident with an Illinois driver's license, you need aggressive representation more so than a Wisconsin driver does. There is a huge difference in the way Illinois treats an OWI / DUI first conviction in Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, the minimum penalties for a first drunk driving offense (called OWI in Wisconsin) are a 6-month revocation of your driving privileges, and a fine of roughly $800.   Here's the problem: a Wisconsin drunk driving "conviction," even if it is a first offense, is treated by Illinois the same as if it were your second or third drunk driving arrest.

Why?  How does this happen?  Drivers arrested and charged with drunk driving in Illinois (called "DUI") for the first time routinely receive a resolution that involves the driver participating in something called, "court supervision."  Court supervision usually involves the driver's license being suspended for a few months, and the driver is ordered to attend classes.  Upon successful completion of these things, the DUI case is then dismissed.  The end result = no DUI conviction.  This alternative resolution is offered to the Illinois driver several times before the DUI arrest eventually results in a DUI conviction.  Therefore, by the time an Illinois driver gets her first official DUI "conviction," she will have had at least one or two (or more) prior DUI arrests. She could lose her license indefinitely. This is why the impact of a Wisconsin OWI "conviction" on the Illinois driver’s license, even for a first offense, can be devastating.

This is a highly specialized area of OWI/DUI law. You need aggressive representation the moment you get arrested. We have successfully resolved hundreds of OWI cases across Wisconsin. Many of our clients have been Illinois drivers just like you who would have otherwise been blind-sided by the justice system.

Contact us as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.  For your convenience, we have made day and evening appointments available, as well as weekend appointments.




WI Blood Alcohol Charts

How many drinks does it take?

The blood alcohol charts below are made available by the DOT. However, if you know there is a chance you might have a drink or two when you go out, the safest thing to do is to find a ride home before you head out. Don't mess around with charts trying to determine how many drinks you can safely consume before you head home. That said, the following charts are provided solely for those who are merely curious.

Determining how many drinks equals 0.08 blood alcohol level begins with defining what “a drink” means.   According to the Bureau of Transportation Safety, Wisconsin
Department of Transportation:

0.54 oz of alcohol is found in:

  • 1 ounce liquor (100 proof)
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 4-5 ounces wine

The Bureau of Transportation Safety, Wisconsin Department of Transportation has produced the following blood/breath alcohol content (BAC) charts. The way to read them is as follows: Start by finding the number on the chart that reflects a person’s weight and the number of drinks consumed.  Take this number from the chart and subtract from it the amount of alcohol eliminated since the time of the first drink, using the average rate of .015 per hour.


Alcohol Chart (men)


120 lbs.







130 lbs.







140 lbs.







150 lbs.







160 lbs.







170 lbs.







180 lbs.







190 lbs.







200 lbs.







210 lbs.







220 lbs.







EXAMPLE:  If a 180 lb. male had five drinks in two hours, his BAC might be around 0.74.
 .104 (from the chart) – (.015/hr x 2 hrs) = 0.074



Alcohol Chart (women)








































































EXAMPLE:  If a 120 lb. female has two drinks within an hour, her BAC might be around 0.061
 0.076 (from the chart) – (.015/hr x 1 hr) = .061



OWI DUI DWI Drunk Driving FAQ

Q: What is the difference between OWI, DUI, DWI charges?


These are merely the various acronyms or shorthand different states use when referring to drunk driving charges. For example, Wisconsin calls their drunk driving offense Operating While Intoxicated or Impaired (OWI). California calls it Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Each statute may differ slightly in the actual language and elements required to prove a drunk driving charge, but they are otherwise essentially the same.

Q: What will I get for a third drunk driving conviction?


There is no short answer for this question.  Sentencing of OWI cases depends upon many factors.  Judges refer to Wisconsin OWI sentencing guidelines when sentencing individuals for drunk driving.  The guidelines are different for each county in Wisconsin.  The guidelines for any given county are based on a chart divided into two columns (mitigated or aggravated) and several rows (level of blood or breath alcohol content).  Generally speaking, the higher the alcohol content, the more severe the penalties.  Each case is different and there are other factors that guide a judge at sentencing.  Sentencing is a complex process that no individual or attorney should take lightly.  Every attempt should be made to mitigate or downplay the negative facts of your case, and identify and emphasize the positives.  You should consult with an attorney before making any decisions about your case and never rely solely on information found on the Internet.


Q: Will I be penalized twice if I get an OWI and a PAC conviction?


No. Wisconsin law does not permit this. Operating while Intoxicated or Impaired (OWI) and Prohibited Alcohol Content (PAC) carry the same penalties, but only one will apply if you get convicted of both.

Q: Are all drunk driving charges criminal offenses in Wisconsin?


No. First offense OWIs in Wisconsin are a non-criminal offense, called forfeitures. They result in the issuance of a citation and fine, but no jail time. Only the second and subsequent drunk driving charges are criminal misdemeanors or felonies.

Q: Is there any way to stop the DOT from suspending my license before my case is over?


Possibly. If you have filed the Department of Transportation (DOT) form requesting an administrative suspension review hearing before the 10 day deadline, you or your lawyer will have a chance to cross examine the officer who arrested you at an informal hearing held at the DOT. If, after the hearing, the DOT decides to suspend your license, your lawyer may be able to get a court order preventing that suspension. About a week or so after the hearing, you should receive a notice from the DOT with their decision and a form to request a judicial review of their decision. Some judges believe that the statute governing this procedure prevents them from reviewing the DOT decision before the day of the trial. This is a common misinterpretation, by lawyers and judges alike. The confusion lies in a subtle distinction in the wording of the statute. Wisconsin Statutes § 343.305(8)(c) does indeed provide that the review shall be heard at the time of the trial. The “review” described in subsection (8)(c), however, pertains to a judicial hearing held for the purposes of determining whether to rescind or sustain the administrative suspension. A on the other hand, is a separate determination, made available to the court by subsection (8)(c)2, pending or in advance of the court's decision to rescind or sustain the administrative suspension. Subsection (8)(c)2 provides, in relevant part:

The department shall vacate the administrative suspension under sub. (7) unless, within 60 days of the date of the request for judicial review of the administrative hearing decision, the department has been notified of the result of the judicial review or of an order of the court entering a stay of the hearing examiner’s order continuing the suspension.

In other words, section 343.305(8)(c)2 acknowledges two separate mechanisms by which the court may change the status of the administrative suspension: a judicial review hearing, or a discretionary stay of the suspension.

Because the legal issues yet to be adjudicated in the underlying OWI (operating while intoxicated) charge may determine whether the suspension will be enforceable in the first place, your lawyer may be able to persuade a judge to sign a legal motion and order “staying” or temporarily preventing the DOT from administratively suspending your license until such time as a final determination may be made by the court at a judicial review hearing.

This information is not meant to serve as legal advice. You should consult with a qualified attorney before making any decisions about your case and never rely solely on information found on the Internet.


Q: Is it true that a refusal ticket counts as an OWI?


Yes. A refusal ticket, which will show up on your driving record as an "IC" or implied consent violation, is counted as an OWI. That is why it is so very important to request a refusal hearing within the 10 days deadline set by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT).

Q: When do I have to pay the fine for an OWI?  What happens if I can't pay it?


You have 60 days from the date of conviction to either 1) pay the fine to the Clerk of Court or 2) apply for a payment plan. Failure to do either before the 60 day deadline will result in a 2 year suspension of your Wisconsin driving privileges.














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