DUI/OWI Laws in Wisconsin

The definition of “driving under the influence” and penalties for an OWI/DUI conviction in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin prohibits a motorist from driving or operating a vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater
  • while under the influence of any intoxicant or controlled substance, or
  • with a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance.

A driver is considered “under the influence” of a substance if it “renders him or her incapable of safely driving.”

Wisconsin OWI Penalties

For an OWI conviction, the judge will decide the jail time, license revocation period, and fines but must stay within statutory limits. These limits depend mainly on the number of prior OWI offenses the driver has within the past ten years (all lifetime offenses are considered for third or subsequent offenses).

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

None

5 days to 6 months

45 days to 1 year

Fines

$150 to $300

$350 to $1,100

$600 to $2,000

Treatment. Every OWI conviction requires a drug and alcohol assessment. Using the results, a driver safety plan is created that will indicate the treatment, DUI education, and sobriety testing requirements for the offender.

Passengers under 16 years of age. Any person who commits an OWI while transporting a passenger under 16 years of age will face double the normal fine, jail sentence, and license revocation period.

Excessive BAC. A driver with a BAC of .17 to .199% will face doubled fines. The fine is tripled for a driver with a BAC of .20% to .249% and quadrupled for a driver with a BAC of .25% or greater.

Driver’s License Sanctions

For a DUI conviction, the court will order the driver’s license be revoked for the following periods:

  • First offense. Six to nine-month revocation.
  • Second offense. 12 to 18-month
  • Third offense. Two to three-year revocation.

Hardship license. Any driver whose license is revoked for an OWI conviction can apply for a hardship license. A hardship license may be used only for travel related to work, school, or treatment purposes.

Ignition interlock. An ignition interlock device (IID) will be required for at least one year after the driver obtains either a hardship license or a reinstated driver’s license.

Implied Consent and Refusing a Chemical or Breath Test in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s “implied consent” laws require all drivers lawfully arrested for operating while intoxicated to submit to a breath test. If the driver is found to have refused a lawfully-requested test, the court will revoke the driver’s license for one to three years. The driver may be eligible for a hardship license but must similarly install an IID.

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