Not sure about the Wisconsin alcohol laws regarding the legal drinking age in Wisconsin?
Maybe you're a student from out of state. Maybe you're from a family that didn't drink alcohol. Maybe you're considering Wisconsin's alcohol laws for the first time.
The legal drinking age in Wisconsin is 21 years old, but there are some additional requirements and limits you should be aware of.
This article takes a closer look at these additional laws relating to the legal drinking age in Wisconsin, as well as other age-specific alcohol stipulations. This information is presented for your own protection, as well as for the protection of your family and loved ones.
If you are planning a party where alcohol will be served, read the Stangl Law article, "Is it Legal to Host Underage Drinking Parties in Wisconsin?"
Wisconsin Alcohol Laws: The Legal Drinking Age in Wisconsin is 21
Wisconsin recognizes 21 years as the legal drinking age. If you are age 21 in Wisconsin, it is legal for you to purchase and drink beer, wine and other alcohol.
Age 21 is also the milestone at which you can legally be on the premises of a bar or other drinking establishment in Wisconsin independently.
Is it Legal for Minors to Go to Bars in Wisconsin?
In many instances, it is against the law in Wisconsin for a minor to try to enter an establishment licensed to serve alcohol. If you are caught trying to do so, you risk facing penalties under Wisconsin law.
There are exceptions to this rule, which allow minors (those under age 21) to be on a premises which is serving alcohol. Some such exceptions include:
- Minors are allowed on a licensed premises during "Teen Nights" or other events during which no alcohol is served.
- Minors 14 and older may work where alcohol is served, but are not legally allowed to sell, dispense, serve or give away alcohol (unless they are 18 or older, with some stipulations).
- If you are accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse of legal drinking age, you may enter a licenses premises, as long as it is fine with the policy of the license holder.
Can Minors Drink with Parents in Wisconsin?
While it is not widely known or promoted in Wisconsin, it remains legal for a minor who is accompanied by a consenting parent, guardian or spouse of legal drinking age to consume alcohol at a licensed premises, as long as the license holder does not object.
Can a server under 18 take a drink order in Wisconsin?
No. Minors under 18 are not allowed to sell, dispense, serve, or give away alcohol.
If You're 21 You Can Buy Alcohol, But Only for Adults
Once you are of legal drinking age, you can legally purchase alcohol in Wisconsin.
However, this does not mean you are allowed to purchase alcohol for minors or other individuals under 21 years of age. Doing so could result in serious penalties under Wisconsin law, such as fines and even imprisonment.
A Note of Caution if You Try to Use a Fake ID in Wisconsin
If you are not at least 21 years old, you are not legally allowed to drink alcohol in the state of Wisconsin, or most other states in America.
Sometimes underage students or other minors might be tempted to use a fake ID or other false identification misrepresenting their age to try to buy alcohol or gain entrance to a bar or other drinking venue or establishment. This is ill-advised.
Presenting any false or misleading identification as proof of age is illegal in Wisconsin.
Different Laws for Drinking and Driving if You are a Minor in Wisconsin
If you are not yet age 21 and are stopped for drunk driving or operating under the influence of an intoxicant in Wisconsin (OWI), understand you will be held to a stricter standard than other drivers.
The point at which a minor is considered to be operating while intoxicated begins with a prohibited alcohol concentration or PAC of only 0.02% BAC or blood alcohol level. For drivers aged 21 and up, the BAC level, which serves as a starting point for a PAC charge, is 0.08% in Wisconsin.
Being charged with OWI and underage drinking is a serious combination and one you want to try to avoid.
If you're the parent of an underage child facing drunk driving charges, read the article, "What To Do if Your Teen is Arrested for OWI in Wisconsin" by Stangl Law.
What Happens if You Get Caught Drinking and Driving Under 21 in Wisconsin?
It depends on your situation. If you were caught drunk driving for the first time, you may be looking at a fine of several hundred dollars and 6-9 months of license suspension, or more severe penalties if this is not your first OWI.
For example, potential penalties and consequences of a second OWI committed by a minor include fines of $300-$1,000 and a year or more of license revocation, as well as higher insurance rates.
What To Do If You're Underage and Facing Criminal Charges Related to Alcohol in Wisconsin
If you have been arrested for any alcohol-related criminal offense in Wisconsin and you are a minor, it is very important not to wait before contacting an experienced attorney.
When choosing a lawyer, select someone familiar with the law in the state in which you were arrested. For example, if you were arrested for underage OWI in Madison, you contact a skilled Wisconsin criminal defense attorney.
You will also want to be sure to choose an attorney who specializes in the area of law under which you have been charged. For instance, if you are facing OWI charges in Wisconsin, you would want to contact a proven Wisconsin OWI attorney.
If you are underage and facing drunk driving charges in Madison or elsewhere in Wisconsin, contact an experienced OWI attorney right away.
FREE 10-Minute Consultation
Madison OWI Attorney Pat Stangl is offering a FREE 10-minute consultation—at no obligation—to discuss your individual case and explore your options for defense. Click the link below to request your complimentary consultation. You'll feel better once you've had the opportunity to discuss your situation and take the first step to move forward.