Wisconsin OWI/DUI Laws in 2023: A Complete Guide

Updated by Stangl Law on April 7, 2023

Person driving with one hand with drink in the cupholder

Wisconsin's driving under the influence laws (DUI) (or OWI for "operating while intoxicated" as it's more commonly referred to in Wisconsin) can be complicated and confusing, especially under the stress of a recent charge.

To make these laws simple and straightforward, we've broken down the DUI laws in Wisconsin in plain language below, along with the potential penalties associated with common offenses.

If you or a loved one has been charged a DUI/OWI-related charge in Wisconsin, it's critical to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to explain the specific circumstances of your situation and get expert help.

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Wisconsin's DUI Laws

Under Wisconsin law, you may be considered to be operating while under the influence of an intoxicant if you are operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more or are impaired as a result of ingesting controlled substances.

However, even if your BAC is under 0.08 percent, you may still be considered to be under the influence if police observe your driving and judge it to be affected by drugs or alcohol.

Receiving a DUI charge can be an intimidating, stressful experience with serious consequences. Both first-time offenders and repeat offenders face mandatory fines and penalties if convicted and put their employment prospects, housing, and personal credit in jeopardy.

Additionally, there are a host of related offenses that may also be implicated if you are charged with an OWI in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin DUI Penalties

See below for a simple list of Wisconsin DUI laws. Note: a number of factors, such as the presence of a minor under 16 in the car, can affect the severity of penalties. View the DMV's complete chart for more information. Potential penalties include but are not limited to:

  • First Offense DUI in Wisconsin: Monetary fines or forfeiture ranging from $150–$300, surcharges, and driver's license revocation for up to 9 months. Read more.

  • Second Offense DUI in Wisconsin: Possible jail time (up to 6 months), significant monetary fines of $150–$1,100, surcharges, and driver’s license revocation for at least 12 months. Read more.

  • Third Offense DUI in Wisconsin: Fine or forfeiture ranging from $600–$2,000 and 45-day minimum confinement. Read more.

  • Fourth Offense DUI in Wisconsin: Class H felony. Minimum $600 and 60-day jail sentence. Maximum penalties are consistent with a Class H felony (fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to six years in prison). Updated Dec. 1, 2018

  • Fifth & Sixth Offense DUI in Wisconsin: Class G felony. Minimum, mandatory fine: Not be less than $600 and as much as $25,000. Maximum of 10 years in prison, surcharges, 2–3 years driver’s license revocation.

Next Steps if You've Been Charged with DUI or Operating While Intoxicated in Wisconsin

If you are facing OWI, DWI, DUI, BAC, or PAC charges in Wisconsin, you should contact a skilled criminal defense attorney to assist in your defense as soon as possible.

Attorney Patrick Stangl explains why you should always seek qualified, experienced legal help when faced with DUI/OWI charges in Wisconsin:



Attorney Pat Stangl's Approach to DUI/OWI Defense

Attorney Stangl’s philosophy regarding OWI defense is that unless the State offers a plea agreement significantly better than the risk of losing in a trial, there is no reason to plead guilty. Because Attorney Stangl believes that—unlike many other charges in State Court—victims of drunk driving [OWI, DUI, DWI, BAC, PAC] charges have little incentive to plead guilty, he prepares all drunk driving cases for trial.

This approach differs greatly from the vast majority of criminal defense attorneys who assume they cannot win your case and plead guilty. If you’re facing criminal or traffic charges in Wisconsin, schedule a free consultation with us from the Contact Us page right away.

Receiving an OWI, DUI, DWI, PAC, BAC DWI/DUI charge is a serious matter. Attorney Stangl uses a wide range of strategies to defend your OWI case, including: review the case for defects, moving for the suppression of evidence, compelling discovery of such things as calibration and maintenance records for the breath machine, having blood samples independently analyzed, negotiating for a lesser charge or reduced sentence, obtaining expert witnesses for trial, contesting the administrative license suspension, winning trials and refusal hearings, and much more.

FREE 10-Minute Consultation

If you need help to fight drunk driving charges in Madison or elsewhere in the state, Attorney Pat Stangl is happy to offer you a FREE 10-minute consultation to discuss your case and explore options for your defense against OWI, DUI, DWI, PAC, BAC or other criminal charges. Click the link below to get started.

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Topics: Drunk Driving Charges (OWI)



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