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Understanding DUI laws in Wisconsin: What you need to know

DUI and Traffic expertise

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Wisconsin, as it is in most states across the United States. DUI laws are in place to ensure the safety of all road users by discouraging intoxicated individuals from getting behind the wheel. If you or someone you know is in Wisconsin, it’s crucial to understand the state’s DUI laws to stay informed and avoid potential legal consequences. In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of Wisconsin’s DUI laws and what you need to know to stay on the right side of the law.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits

Wisconsin, like most states, has established specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits to determine if a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence. In Wisconsin, the legal BAC limits are as follows:

  • For drivers aged 21 and older: BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered illegal.
  • For commercial drivers: BAC of 0.04% or higher is prohibited.
  • For drivers under 21 years old: Wisconsin has a “Zero Tolerance” policy, which means any detectable BAC above 0.00% is illegal.

It’s essential to note that even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still be charged with DUI if your driving is impaired due to alcohol or drugs. The focus is on impaired driving, not just exceeding the BAC limit.

Penalties for DUI in Wisconsin

If you are arrested and convicted of DUI in Wisconsin, you can face various penalties, depending on factors like your BAC level, prior DUI convictions, and the circumstances of the offense. Here’s an overview of potential penalties:

1. First Offense:

  • Fine of up to $300
  • Driver’s license suspension for 6 to 9 months
  • Possible ignition interlock device (IID) installation

2. Second Offense (within 10 years of the first):

  • Fine of up to $1,100
  • Driver’s license suspension for 12 to 18 months
  • Mandatory IID installation

3. Third Offense (within 10 years of the first):

  • Fine of up to $2,000
  • Driver’s license revocation for 2 to 3 years
  • Mandatory IID installation
  • Possibility of felony charges

4. Fourth Offense (within a lifetime):

  • Felony charges with substantial fines and potential prison time

Wisconsin also has an implied consent law, which means that by operating a motor vehicle in the state, you automatically consent to chemical testing if law enforcement suspects you of driving under the influence. Refusing to take a chemical test can result in an automatic driver’s license suspension.

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

For repeat DUI offenders or those with a high BAC, Wisconsin mandates the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs). These devices require the driver to pass a breathalyzer test before the vehicle will start. IIDs are a deterrent and a safety measure aimed at reducing the likelihood of repeat offenses.


Understanding DUI laws in Wisconsin is crucial to avoid the severe consequences that can result from a DUI conviction. Remember that driving under the influence not only endangers your life but also the lives of others on the road. If you’ve been drinking, it’s always best to designate a sober driver, use public transportation, or arrange for a rideshare service.

If you do find yourself facing DUI charges, it’s essential to consult with an experienced attorney who can provide guidance and represent your interests. The legal consequences of a DUI conviction can have a significant and long-lasting impact on your life, so it’s vital to take these laws seriously and make responsible choices when it comes to alcohol consumption and driving. Your safety and the safety of others on the road should always be the top priority.


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