Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Wisconsin
is a criminal offense. People who decide to drive while high or drunk not only
put themselves and the public at risk. They also put themselves in jeopardy of
being arrested and incurring a myriad of penalties.
Motorists in Wisconsin who want to avoid being charged with
DUI in Wisconsin are advised to learn what the legal blood alcohol content
limits are. They also need to learn what kinds of legal consequences can follow
after being convicted of this serious crime.
DUI in Wisconsin
Unlike many other states, Wisconsin does not use the acronym
DUI to define driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Instead, it uses
the acronym OWI, which stands for Operating a vehicle While Intoxicated.
The legal definition of a standard OWI violation applies to drivers
who are 21 years of age and older. It involves driving with a blood or alcohol
content level of 0.08 percent or higher. It also pertains to driving a motor
vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicant, driving with a detectable
amount of a controlled substance in one’s blood or driving while under the
influence of other drugs like prescription medications.
Also unlike other states, Wisconsin does not permit underage
drivers, that is drivers under the age of 21, to have any detectable amount of
alcohol or drugs in their system. While other states allow underage drivers to
have a BAC of under 0.02 percent, which allows some minors to partake of
alcohol for religious purposes or use of medications for illnesses like the
flu, Wisconsin has an absolute zero tolerance for drivers under 21. They can be
arrested and charged with an OWI if they have any detectable BAC.
OWI Penalties in Wisconsin
The penalties for OWI in Wisconsin increase with the number
of OWIs that an offender has on his or her driving and criminal records. The
punishments start out with a fine of $150 to $300 for a first-time OWI. The
penalties include six to nine months’ license revocation and use of an IID if
the person’s BAC is over 0.15 percent.
A second OWI conviction within 10 years leads to:
to $1000 in fines
days to six months in jail
- 12 to
18 months license revocation
- 12 to 18
months’ use of an IID
A third OWI conviction within 10 years in Wisconsin results
of $600 to $2000
days to one year in jail
- Two to
three years in jail
- One to
three years’ use of an IID
The state allows for up to 10 OWI convictions within a
10-year time frame. The 10th OWI conviction in Wisconsin results in:
up to $25,000
to 12.5 years in prison
- Two to
three years’ license revocation
- Use of
an IID for one to three years
Fifth and subsequent OWIs are charged as felonies while
first through fourth OWIs are charged as misdemeanors.
Wisconsin allows for OWIs to be charged and punished as
enhanced offenses if they meet certain criteria. Among them, having children in
the car at the time of the offense can result in harsher penalties.
A first-time offender who has children in the vehicle while
under the influence faces fines of $350 to $1000, five to six days in jail, and
a maximum of 18 months for a license revocation and use of an IID.
A second offense for having children in the car during an
OWI results in fines of $700 to $2200 and a jail term of 10 days to two years.
The person’s license can be revoked for up to three years, and the person will
have to use an IID for the same three-year period.
A third offense for this same charge results in fines of
$1200 to $4000 and jail for up to 90 days. The offender’s license can be
revoked for up to six years with the person having to use an IID for the same
period of time.
Wisconsin does not permit drivers of any age to operate a
motor vehicle after using drugs or alcohol. People who engage in this crime can
face harsh penalties ranging from months or years in jail to paying steep
fines. They also can have their licenses revoked and could be compelled to use
an IID on their vehicles.