Is it Illegal to Fly a Plane Drunk or Under the Influence in Wisconsin?

Posted by Attorney Stangl on June 6, 2019


No one expects a pilot to be mixing Old Fashioneds in the air, but it is important to be aware of Wisconsin's law surrounding the operation of an aircraft, including the legal limit in such situations and possible penalties.

This article will explain the criminal offense of intoxicated flying and offer tips on what to do if you or a loved one finds themselves facing this charge in Wisconsin.

Read Also: Boating Under the Influence in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know

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Intoxicated Flying in Wisconsin

Flying a plane or other aircraft is a crime in Wisconsin if your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit.

This criminal offense is clearly defined under Wisconsin State Statute 114.09(1):

1. No person may operate an aircraft in the air or on the ground or water while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or controlled substances or controlled substance analogs under ch. 961 or a combination thereof, under the influence of any other drug to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely operating an aircraft, or under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and any other drug to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely operating an aircraft.

It might surprise you to learn the operation of the aircraft is not limited to the air. "Flying" includes operation of the plane on land and water as well.

What is the Legal Limit When Flying a Plane in Wisconsin?

The legal limit in Wisconsin when flying a plane, helicopter, or other aircraft is much stricter than the legal limit for operating a vehicle and even stricter if you have a passenger or passengers.
Wisconsin State Statute 114.09(1) goes on to clearly state:
1m. No person may operate an aircraft in the air or on the ground if the person has a prohibited alcohol concentration.
While your blood alcohol content must be below .08 percent to legally drive in Wisconsin, to fly a plane or aircraft, you must not exceed a blood alcohol concentration of .04 percent. 
If you are carrying one or more passengers, your legal limit drops to .00 percent BAC.
It is also illegal to fly a plane or aircraft under the influence of drugs or other intoxicants in Wisconsin.

Penalties for Flying Under the Influence in Wisconsin

If you are found guilty of intoxicated flying due to alcohol consumption or drug use, you face a range of consequences, depending on the details of your case.

To begin with, you would be charged a fine to correlate with the severity of the offense. Generally, minimum and maximum fines range from $150 to $2,000 depending on the circumstances and increase depending on your blood alcohol concentration:

  • 0.17 to 0.199 fines are doubled
  • 0.20 to 0.249 fines are tripled
  • 0.25 or above fines are quadrupled

Penalties can also include jail time ranging from 5 days to a year, and even prison time, depending on the circumstances of your case.

It's important to be aware that penalties, including fines and imprisonment, double if you are found guilty of intoxicated flying with a minor passenger under the age of 16 in Wisconsin. Should you end up facing repeat charges, be cautioned as you may wind up facing a felony charge of intoxicated flying in Wisconsin.

To learn more about what specific penalties you risk facing in your case, contact a skilled Wisconsin criminal defense attorney right away.

Proven Wisconsin OWI Defense Since 1991

Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney Pat Stangl has been aggressively defending clients across the state of Wisconsin for over 25 years. Working from his office in Madison, as well as Hayward, Attorney Stangl has the knowledge and skill you need if you've been charged with intoxicated flying, boating under the influence, OWI, or other offense.
Attorney Stangl is pleased to provide a FREE 15-minute consultation to discuss your case and explore options for your defense. Simply click the link below to request your free consultation today.
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Topics: Drunk Driving Charges (OWI)



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