Wisconsin OWI Laws: FAQ

What is the legal drinking limit for drivers in Wisconsin?

The blood alcohol limit in Wisconsin is a 0.08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC,) unless you are under the age of 21. If you are under the age of 21 and you have any measurable amount of alcohol in your system then you are legally intoxicated. Finally, the legal limit for commercial drivers is a BAC of 0.04 or above.

What are the penalties for OWI in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin OWI Penalties:

1st Offense:

  • Fine: $150-$300,
  • Surcharge: $365,
  • Mandatory Alcohol Assessment,
  • Jail Time: None, unless passenger under 16 is in the car: Jail 5 days-6 months,
  • Drivers License Suspension/Revocation: 6-9 months (can immediately apply for occupational license), and
  • Possible Ignition Interlock Device.

2nd Offense:

  • Fine: $350-$1,100,
  • Surcharge: $365,
  • Mandatory Alcohol Assessment,
  • Jail Time: 5 days-6 months,
  • Drivers License Suspension/Revocation: 12-18months (can immediately apply for occupational license after 45 days, 12 months if 2nd OWI within 5 years), and
  • Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device.

3rd Offense:

  • Fine: $600-$2,000,
  • Surcharge: $365,
  • Mandatory Alcohol Assessment,
  • Jail Time: 45 days-1 year,
  • Drivers License Suspension/Revocation: 2-3 years (can apply for occupational license after 45 days, 12 months if 2nd OWI within 5 years), and
  • Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device.

4th Offense (none within the last 5 years):

  • Fine: $600-$2,000,
  • Surcharge: $365,
  • Mandatory Alcohol Assessment,
  • Jail Time: 60 days-1 year,
  • Drivers License Suspension/Revocation: 2-3 years (can apply for occupational license after 45 days, 12 months if 2nd OWI within 5 years), and
  • Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device.

4th Offense (1 or more previous within the past 5 years):

  • Fine: $600-$10,000,
  • Surcharge: $365,
  • Mandatory Alcohol Assessment,
  • Jail Time: 6 months- 6  years,
  • Drivers License Suspension/Revocation: 2-3 years (can apply for occupational license after 45 days, 12 months if 2nd OWI within 5 years), and
  • Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device.

Additionally, the harshness of the penalties imposed in Wisconsin will increase with each subsequent OWI.

Must I consent to a Chemical Sobriety Test when stopped for OWI in Wisconsin?

Under current law, any person who drives or operates a motor vehicle upon the public highways 
of this state is deemed to have given consent to one or more tests of his or her breath, blood, or urine, for the purpose of determining the presence or quantity in his or her blood or breath of alcohol, controlled substances, controlled substance analogs or other  drugs or any combination of alcohol,  controlled substances,  controlled substance analogs, and other drugs,  when requested  to do so by a  law enforcement  officer or when required to do so.  

The law specifies that:   

(1) any such tests must be administered upon the request of a law enforcement officer; and

(2) the law enforcement agency  by which the officer is employed must be prepared to administer, either at its agency or any other agency or facility, two of  the three tests (breath, blood,  or urine) and he or she may designate which of  the tests shall  be administered first.

If you decide to refuse one of these tests your driver’s license will be suspended.

What are the OWI penalties for drivers under 21 in Wisconsin?

If you are under the age of 21 and are found with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system you will face a $200 fine, a minimum 3 month license suspension, and 4 demerit points on your driving record.

How long will I lose my license for refusing to take a Chemical Test under Wisconsin Drunk Driving Law?

  • 1st Offense: 1 Year (can apply for an occupational license after 30 days)
  • 2nd Offense: 2 Years (Can apply after 90 days or after 12 months if 2 or more offenses within  5 year period)
  • 3rd or Subsequent Offense: 3 Years (Can apply after 120 days or after 12 months if 2 or more offenses within  5 year period)

Speak to an Experienced Drunk Driving Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified drunk driving lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local drunk driving attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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